Posted March 5, 2009 7:53 pm by with 9 comments

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geometry_2At Econsultancy today, Editor-in-chief Chris Lake is putting social media measurement into perspective:

The key with social media measurement, I think, is to stand back and take a widescreen approach to measurement.

Rather than focusing on the smaller, campaign-specific metrics, such as traffic from Twitter or the number of fans on Facebook, wouldn’t it be better to look at how it helps to shift the most important business KPIs, such as sales, profits, as well as customer retention and satisfaction rates?

Wait, what? Instead of looking at the easily measurable metrics, actually measure our success by how well our social media stats fit into our overall online strategy? . . . Nah, that’ll never work.

Okay, it shouldn’t be any secret that I totally agree with Chris here, since I’ve been talking about this since my very first post on Marketing Pilgrim. Sometimes, guys, we do get a little too fixated on the trees.

Three or four years ago, that meant obsessively following your ranking stats for each keyword, rather than looking at how well that traffic did once they actually got to our sites. These days, it’s more at exactly what Chris mentions above. Frankly, ten thousand followers on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean a whole lot if it’s not actually helping your business.

(Granted, you would have to be doing it wrong if social media’s not helping your business, but if you’re not even looking at that side of the equation, it’s going to be pretty hard to do it right, yes?)

But the benefits of social media aren’t all directly measurable, as Chris also accurately points out. Your 10,000 Facebook fans might not be making you much money because they never seem to click through your page to your site, but your little badge is (buried deep) on each of those fans’ profiles. Can we say brand lift?

And as if that weren’t enough good advice, Chris goes on to outline ten steps to accurately measuring your social media campaigns’ impact. But first (well, zeroth, I guess) he reminds us to set our benchmarks. We have to take stock of where we are to know where we can go, and to see if we’re making any progress in getting there, right?

Chris’s ten steps start with the most obvious: traffic. Okay, yes, traffic can be a big benefit from social media campaigns. But sometimes we tend to stop there. Twitter increases site traffic 20% and we’re satisfied.

But for real social media success, we can’t stop there. We have to continue on to measure other potential benefits of social media to make sure that we’re really running an effective social campaign. Chris includes (positive) interactions, customer engagement, leads, branding benefits, search, PR, and, of course, sales, customer retention and profits.

Now, if you had to choose between measuring how many people MySpace is driving to your site or examining the overall business benefits of social media, the choice should be easy. What do you like to measure? What kind of success have you found this way?