Measuring Social Media Success? Fail.

Christina Warren over at Mashable posted an interesting piece citing a recent survey that appeared on eMarketer.

The good news: 86% of companies surveyed are employing social media in their marketing practices.

The bad news: Of these companies, 84% are not measuring the success (or failure) of their efforts.

When I read this, I almost fell off my chair.


Image courtesy of Andy Ramdin via Filckr

I would assume that there would be a higher level of scrutiny on marketing dollars that are spent in the social spaces -  that the C-Suite would demand some level of accountability for these budgets being allocated to a new (and in many cases,unproven) channel.

Add to that - digital marketing, by the nature of its being, is measurable, and there are lots of great ways to easily gauge the impact of your social media marketing campaigns, depending on the goal of initiative. Here are a few:

Brand Buzz / Voice of Customer:

Some social media campaigns aim to generate discussion about your brand and increase your "share of voice".  This word of mouth exposure is often referred to as earned media, and can be more valuable than bought media, as it is perceived as more credible. There are a wide array of social media monitoring tools available to measure brand mentions in the social space and determine whether the buzz is positive or negative.  If your social media campaign's goal is improve your brand profile, you'll want to check out Radian6, Sysomos,Trackur and SM2 (just to name a few).

Social Opt-Ins (Fans, Followers and Friends)  

Tracking the number of social opt-ins can be a great way to measure community-building initiatives. Remember that the key to measuring the real value of these is to focus on the quality of your community members, versus the quantity.  Are your Fans relevant to your brand and vice-versa?  Are they active participants in the online community, posting content and recommending your products to their networks? How large is their social graph, and how influential are they within it?

Link Building

If the goal of your campaign is to generate links to your website, this can easily be measured with Google Webmaster Tools using the "Links to your site" table.  These links are dated based on when they were crawled, so this can give you a good idea of how they correlate with a social media campaign.

Traffic Generation

When the goal of social media marketing is clickthroughs to your website, measure ROI with data from your web analytics software, such as Google Analytics.  Where is your traffic coming from and how does it behave on your site? Is there an incremental difference in the value of traffic from Facebook or a particular blog, conmpared to traffic from bought media?  Does earned traffic spend more time on your site or view more pages than bought traffic?

Sales / Conversions

If you are using goal tracking within your web analytics program, you can easily measure goals, or conversions,  according to traffic source. Another way to do this is to use unique promotional codes and landing pages to identify sales resulting from social media marketing campaigns.

Customer Service / Support Costs

Is your Facebook Page a place where you provide customer support, or better yet, where your customers support each other? Do you operate a community or forum containing product information and technical FAQ's (as in the case of Hewlett Packard's Community Wiki) ?  If so, then there is likely a way to correlate community activity with a decrease in call center volume, support tickets and/or product returns.

As is the case in any marketing initiative, the key to success is to establish clear and measurable objectives prior to developing the strategy or campaign execution.  In doing so, you'll be able to easily implement the tools needed to measure your success with at least some certainty.

Have any examples of how you have measured your social media campaigns?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments...