In the first half of the 2000’s I spent six years in the market research industry executing web surveys, online focus groups, website usability studies, and (blech!) telephone polls. Being in the market research industry at the turn of the millennium was an interesting time since the web was changing a lot of things, fast.
All of sudden you could get instant results of your survey while it was still in the field and watch focus groups unfold while sitting in your office a thousand miles away. Real time reporting became the soup du jour. We could measure almost anything instantly even if it didn’t need measuring. And therein lies my beef with analytics – Not everything is worth measuring, especially when it comes to social media.
In fact, I believe very little is worth measuring. It’s not because I believe analytics don’t have value. Quite the contrary. It’s because most people don’t utilize them or only use them because they need justification to serve a purpose. Let’s face it, unless your a statistician or analyst, going through analytics is about as fun as waiting in a long line outside in the winter. To be clear, I think it’s important to measure some things and the web affords that capability better than any other. But, I think most small and medium sized business marketers should save themselves the trouble of getting stressed out about it.
There’s a lot of talk about measuring the ROI of social media and tracking the effectiveness of your social media efforts. Yes, it’s good to have goals surrounding your social media efforts if at least to keep you on task. But, let me ask you this: Do you have current metrics for how many conversations you have with clients? How about grading the quality of your relationships? Do you provide bonuses to sales people for how positive their attitude is? The answer is probably no, because these things are fairly intangible. You can’t teach attitude and it’s difficult to measure other than saying it’s “good” or “bad”. Yet, these intangibles can make a significant difference to the success of your company.
Aside from having a a handful of metrics for monitoring certain aspects of engagement, I think the main focus of measuring social media should be on how much value you’re providing. Are you answering questions? providing information that is worthy of sharing? participating in conversations? or trying to help somebody solve a problem? In a nutshell, how well are you forming or strengthening relationships. People do business with people they know, like and trust. There aren’t really metrics to measure that other than the formation of a relationship. Break free of trying to prove social media ROI with analytics and just do the right thing. It will pay off and that’s a STAT ;-)
Do you have a different perspective? Are there analytics that you have found useful? I welcome other’s opinions. Please comment below.