Posted September 19, 2011 10:41 am by with 3 comments

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It looks like the C-suite of marketers is getting the message that just because it sounds nice to tie certain business results to social media it doesn’t mean it’s easy. C-level marketers often tell their minions to do something that they themselves have no real idea how to do. It’s when reality hits that opinions and measurements change.

Look at this chart from the latest CMO Survey conducted in August by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

It appears as if attributing actual sales results to social media is becoming less popular amongst the C-suite set. It certainly doesn’t mean that it is less desirable and that there shouldn’t be continued efforts to do this kind of tracking. It does show, however, just how difficult it is to attribute any one definitive cause of a sale to social media efforts.

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It’s easy to demand something from an arm’s distance because it sounds right. Many high level marketers like to pass down edicts to their staffs as to just what should be measured and why. It’s that pesky reality bit that tends to make smart CMO’s step back and realize that while it may sound good to tie sales and revenue back to social media the actual act of doing so is never easy. In fact, in some cases it can be next to impossible.

As marketers it’s important to understand what can or cannot be done at this very moment in time. To demand something that is, in essence, more fantasy than reality creates undo pressure to deliver the “right” number and can lead to people doing what they can do to make the numbers look the way they should to preserve their jobs. At this point marketing measurement becomes like any other statistical effort where numbers bend to the whims and the needs of those demanding them. Sure it’s nice to show someone what they want to see but if it’s not real then everyone loses.

What is your take on just how much credit you can give confidently give to social media efforts with regard to sales? What are some techniques that you use to show the connection between social media efforts and bottom line results? Are we chasing a holy grail that may never be as clearly defined as we may like?

  • Jeff Katz

    Since when are hits/PV/visits, Repeat Visits and other well-established web measurement metrics considered social media metrics?

    • @Jeff – Good question. Why do you think those miss the mark?

  • This is what I’ve been saying all along. Never got a good answer. So I stopped asking.