Why You Need To Measure The Value of Social Media
There is debate on whether businesses can measure the value of social media. On one side are those who argue that social media is an intangible and while it brings benefits to business, there is just no way to measure them.
I sit firmly on the opposite side of that debate – having worked in online marketing, SEO and all things digital for most of the last 15 years, measuring the results of activity is expected and an inherent part of all marketing activities online. For me, it is natural to look for a way to measure the effectiveness of any activity and to be skeptical about anything that isn’t measured.
It is in this vein that I’ve spoken about the need to measure the value and effectiveness of social media and looked for methods to inform any social media strategies or plans.
A recent presentation at Social Media Women in Sydney outlines these views on Measuring the Value of Social Media in further detail.
As with any online marketing activity, the business objectives should drive the activity and define the goals and measures of effectiveness. Define what success looks like and measure whether social media is contributing to achieving it.
In summary, the key reasons that you have to be able to measure the value of social media are:
It costs time and money – businesses are spending budget on tools that support social media activity or the time spent by business owners or staff in creating content, managing queries – these costs are real and businesses should expect that there is a return for this investment
Business & strategic decisions are being made – all businesses need to make informed decisions, trying to operate in the absence of real information is just plain guesswork.
While in the early days of social media, the accepted norm seemed to be that it was all too hard to measure, this view is changing. From the business community we speak to, we’re now seeing much tighter controls around the results and expectations from social media, and rigour around measurement. Businesses measure value in various ways – ranging from basics such as traffic volume from social media sources, through to more sophisticated measures of lifetime customer value of social media acquired customers.
As budgets get increasingly tighter, the pressure to only spend money and time on activity that works, and delivers measurable business objectives, will increase. Future demands on marketing staff, consultancies, agencies and business to show the value that social media delivers is to be expected. If you can’t measure the value of social media, you should urgently work out why, what’s stopping you and put in place plans to measure results. Map measurements back to business objectives and determine what is working for you and what’s not.