The Million Dollar Question

Social Media Week

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During Social Media: An Information Treasure Trove, our moderator, Amy Guth of the Chicago Tribune, kicked off the session with a fully loaded question: Why do we measure, what do we measure and how do we measure?  With only an hour and a half, my first thought was how are we ever going to get to the second question?  This is the million dollar question for any marketer exploring the social space.  As Justyn Howard, CEO of Sprout Social, pointed out, we would be surprised how many businesses don’t even have a benchmark to measure against and it’s probably because they don’t know where to start.

So, where do you start?  Patrick Rooney, EVP of Zócalo Group, says the first step is listening.  You need to get to know the landscape of your industry by understanding your audience, what they are talking about and where they are talking about it.  Knowing your market will be indicative of your success.

Then you need to determine what you are going to measure.  Just measuring everything is not the solution.  Chuck Hemann, VP of Digital Analytics at Edelman, shared that even at the enterprise level you can’t measure everything.  Your goal is going to be at least one of three things: make money, save money or make consumers happy.  What you track needs to help you prove one of these.  Understanding the objective of your program will help with this.

Among all of the metrics you can measure, the panel agreed there are some that are undervalued.  Content is one, Patrick suggests.  Listen to what your audience wants to hear about and take a closer look at your content mix.  Mandy Zaransky, Manager of Strategic Insights for the Chicago Tribune, says sentiment is undervalued.  Although most tools used to measure sentiment are not totally accurate, if done right, sentiment is a great indicator of how people feel about your brand or product over a period of time.

However, the most powerful statement made was from Chuck: primary research is not dead.  You should be surveying your fans and followers, as well as holding offline focus groups to learn from your consumers.  When someone tweets “I love your new line of gym shoes!” instead of just saying thank you, ask them why they like them?  What’s their favorite part?  Would they recommend them to a friend?  Use these engaged followers to gain some insight. When you couple primary research with social listening, Mandy says, you will get the best results.

Are there any social media metrics that you feel are undervalued?

Kerry Sugrue

Social Media Specialist,


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