Daily Archives: April 20, 2013

Social Media ROI: Picking a Starting Point

ROI quoteI would be lying if I said the chapters of Social Media ROI we read for #CMGRclass this week didn’t completely stress me out. The graphs, equations, measurement criteria… there is so much to be done when it comes to figuring out your return on investment with social media.

I work with a team of two people- myself and one other- who focus on social media for our office. Unfortunately, we just do not have the resources or support to do everything that Oliver Blanchard suggests.

After my minor social media panic attack, I came to terms that it is okay to start small. Even by picking just a few of his suggestions to focus on, that will help my team reach our goals. And hopefully, someday we will have the resources and support to do what Blanchard proposes in Social Media ROI. If we start tracking even just a few things now, we will be ahead of the game when the times comes.

Oliver Blanchard Social Media ROI

Example from Social Media ROI

Currently, it is hard for my team to track ROI since we do not really have access to the company’s financial transactions. However, I can focus on the nonfinancial impact that social media has on the company’s ROI, so that’s where I will begin.

Examples of nonfinancial outcomes to monitor:

  • Comments (positive and negative)
  • Mentions (positive and negative)
  • Retweets (positive and negative)
  • Increase/decrease in visitors to your website
  • Increase/decrease in followers and/or likes
  • Number of times something was shared
  • Other metrics that cannot be measured in dollars

Watch this video from Oliver Blanchard– he happily and simply describes what is ROI.

The next steps for measuring are what Blanchard calls the cornerstones of your measurement practice: monitoring, measurement, analysis, and reporting.

1. Monitoring: listening to your community. What are they talking about? What do you they have to say about your organization, your service or your product?

  • Tools for monitoring include: Google Alerts, tracking hashtags, looking at @ mentions, reading comments.

2. Measurement: quantifying what you monitored, measuring and tracking the data that you’ve collected. What links got the most clicks? What posts received the most shares? A tip from Blanchard: “Be precise and measure what matters. Start with your objectives and work your way back into metrics that support these objectives.”

  • Tools for measuring include: Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Facebook Insights

3. Analysis: taking your measurements and making sense out of them, what insights does your data provide to your company or organization. Does your community love posts about sports? Do they react well to contests? Do they only share posts that are images? See what your community is responding to and then act upon it. Analyze your measurements so you know where your organization needs to focus their social media efforts.

4. Reporting: informing coworkers of your findings and progress to show that you are reaching your goals. Blanchard stresses that “how data and analysis are reported, by whom, and under what circumstances is critical to the success of your social media program.” You need to be able to show the right people your social media insights and  prove how they are affecting the company in a positive way.

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Picking a starting point of looking at nonfinancial outcomes will help me focus instead of getting overwhelmed by the bigger picture. That is just one piece of the social media ROI puzzle. Hopefully in the future, with more resources, I will be able to place the nonfinancial impact into this equation with ease:

investment –> action –> reaction –> non financial impact –> financial impact

The Importance of Social Media Metrics

Business Metrics

Image courtesy of jscreationzs FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, Bill Gates discussed the importance of setting clear goals and selecting measurements that will drive progress towards those goals as a way to create a virtuous feedback loop and solve the world’s health, education, and agricultural problems. If the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is tackling the world’s biggest problems with this simple insight, perhaps it could help solve social media ills as well. Maybe by measuring the right things and tracking our progress (or lack thereof) organizations could improve the effectiveness of our social media investment. In Social Media ROI, Olivier Blanchard postulates the need for a similar feedback loop to improve companies’ return on their social media program.


The first step is to establish “listening outposts”. Determine what channels are important to monitor. Where are your current and future customers hanging out? Establish a presence there and begin to listen. Begin to sort and organize the data into categories that will help you drill down to more finite measurements.


In this step you will need to define the metrics that will be tracked. The best way to begin is to do as Steven Covey says, “begin with the end in mind”. Make sure to “measure what matters”, by starting with your organization’s objectives and working backward to develop metrics which support these objectives. Also, seek to understand the amount of influence each measurement has on the behaviors you are seeking to modify. Establish baselines for your measurements so that you have a beginning point for future measurements to be compared against. Remember that once measurements are established, they are not static. They need to continue to evolve as new tools or better algorithms are developed that yield more precise or better measurements.


All the data in the world is worthless if you can not distill it into insightful information which you can use to spur new actions or change existing ones in order to increase the probability of meeting or exceeding your objectives. Create a narrative tracking specific financial investments in your social media program (e.g. $25,000 spent for new facebook company page) into non-financial outcomes (e.g. new facebook followers, more click-throughs to website on-line store) and back into financial results (e.g. increased first quarter sales generated by new facebook customers). Documenting the return on investment for each social media investment, will make it easier to know where to make future investments in order to maximize your investment returns.


Reporting needs to be “efficient, timely, clear, and to the point”. Start immediately with the basics and use a continuous improvement process to expand your reporting as needs dictate. Remember that a “picture is worth a thousands words”. Using the right graphics and charts can convey your data much more effectively than a mass dump of indecipherable data. Keep your reporting structure simple and intuitive so that important trends stand out and are quickly grasped by all.

Test, Measure, Learn, Adapt, Repeat

Finally, remember that improving your social media program is continuous learning effort. Continue experimenting and incorporating your learnings into your next iterative cycle. Always continue to test, measure, learn, adapt, and repeat! You may not solve world hunger, but you will improve the return on investment for your social media program.

How do you tie your social media program measurements into your corporate objectives? What have you learned through this process?

How To Prove Your Worth As A Community Manager

ROI, those three dreaded letters, are always on the minds of your benefactors as a community manager. Social media is still a pretty new ballgame, so many employers are still wondering if their community investments are going to pay off. The ace up your sleeve as a community manager is simple: metrics. By measuring data that is relevant to your organization’s needs, you can effectively monitor, correct, and prove the success of your management efforts, especially those that pertain to returns.

Before you can even start collecting data to observe, you need to outline the business goals behind your social media presence. In Social Media ROI, Olivier Blanchard urges specificity in goals, stating that a measurable target like “we need to sell 245 more red bicycles” is more helpful and desirable than a simple goal of “increase sales.” If you can attribute those bike sales to your community campaigns, you’ll have a measurable goal with an endpoint to determine success. But not all business goals are profit-driven.


Working for the IT services here on campus, none of the metrics I measure regard sales, simply because we don’t sell anything. We have some paid services, but if anything, our goal is to educate our customers so they never have to bring their personal devices in for repair. On Twitter, we are trying to improve our customer support services, as well as make our presence more known on campus. So, the business goals I’m considering when looking at data include offering more efficient issue handling, improving our online reputation, establishing ourselves as a trusted brand on campus, and broadening our overall support coverage.

So what metrics tie into those goals? For issue handling efficiency, I look at a lot of different criteria. The first is the length of time it takes one of our support staff to respond to the user about their problem. During working hours, we’re fast, with an average response time of under 20 minutes. That’s impressive considering how we function internally, but it could be improved. On nights and weekends, however, we average something like 12 hours. If you send us a complaint at 6 PM on a Monday, we may not get to it until 9 AM Tuesday. We could definitely improve upon that, which is why we’re training our night staff on Twitter usage. Another metric I look at is “tweets to resolution” – how many back and forth tweets does it take us to solve a problem? Now, not every IT issue can be described and fixed via Twitter, so we have a strict 3-4 tweet rule; if you can’t fix it within 3-4 sent tweets, you escalate to a different contact medium. Still, with that in mind, we do pretty well, as most issues are simple and can be handled in 2-3 tweets.

Blog13_DemoOther metrics I measure include brand and product sentiment, inbound issues (95% of our issues are from outreach, responding to a tweet not directed at us), issue tracking/conversion (how often we escalate or defer to a different medium), as well as the usual numbers like followers and retweets. Every single metric has a distinct purpose, and most are tied directly to business goals. Your metrics as a community manager may very well be different from mine, but they should at least have “business relevance” in common. When planning out your metrics, it will be helpful to work with your superiors to develop hard goals for your social media work. That way, you’ll all know what the expected outcomes are, and you will be able to deliver evidence of your successes and difficulties in a way that is easily digested.

What are some of your key metrics, and what business goals do they stem from?