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.
Other 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?