Social media marketing...what you really should be measuring


Welcome back to the jaw-dropping discussion on what really matters in your social media strategy.  Harkening back to Katie Paine’s amazing presentation at the recent SAS Government Executive summit, there are six steps to measuring what really matters in a social media campaign:

  1. Define the expected goals.  If you were climbing Mt. Everest, would you just grab a pack, some oxygen tanks, and sprint to the top? For your sake, I hope not.  Taking time to plan and outline strategic goals is an extremely important step in defining a social media (and climbing expedition) strategy.  Goals drive metrics and metrics drive results. So, before you launch into any social media effort, take time to determine what kind of return you expect to receive or what kind of difference you want the campaign to make.
  2. Understand your audiences and what motivates them.  Cookie Monster is not going to come to your party if there are no cookies.  Understanding the dynamics of your audience and what they are hungry for is critical if you are going to have any impact. Not all audiences are the same…they play in different spaces, speak different languages, and are looking for different things from you.  Getting out and mixing with your intended audience will allow you to ascertain what they pay attention to and how they use individual channels.  With this information you can then streamline and cater a social media content strategy directly for your intended audience.
  3. Establish Benchmarks. How do you know if you are being successful or failing miserably?  By establishing and measuring against benchmarks, organizations can accurately compare results of similar contexts over time and then tweak their efforts accordingly. Wondering what to measure against?  Pick whatever entity is keeping your bosses up at night.
  4. Define metrics (and what you want to become).  Paine describes this as defining what “kicking butt” means to you. KPI has vast importance and ultimately gets you where you want to go.  The perfect KPI achieves your corporation’s goals, is actionable, and continuously improves your process.
  5. Pick a tool and do some research.  Since I’m a tool junky, this is my favorite.  I agree with Paine as she outlines that there are only really three types of tools in social media measurement:
    • Content Analysis – measures messaging, positioning, themes, and sentiment.
    • Survey Research – measures awareness, perception, and preference.
    • Web Analytics – measures engagement, action, and purchase.

    This step emphasizes why having measurable goals is so important…you are going to need the right tool to determine if you are actually reaching that goal.

  6. Analyze results, discover insights, take action and measure…AGAIN. This is where you really tie all of your measurement efforts together. At this point, you need to identify your right-brained, numerically-talented computer geek in your organization and put him/her to work. With computer geek in hand, you should sit down and marinate in the data you’ve collected and ask one very important question…SO WHAT? Paine recommends asking this ever important question at least three times to truly determine real answers. You’re also going to want to figure out what isn’t working, what failed, and what your competition is doing. Only after all of this digging can you really start to define successes. Compare your last month, last quarter, last year and once you can define what is working, move your resources there.

I think it’s important for social media marketing practitioners to remember that all of this isn’t going to happen overnight and that not all organizations can reach the social media mecca status of someone like, Dell.  That being said, Paine summarized this process beautifully, with a quote borrowed from Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl,
but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

All in all, measuring social media isn’t about justifying its use. Rather, it’s about continuously improving your strategy and implementation.


About Author

Meg Crawford

Meg Crawford is the Social Media Marketing and Digital Strategist at SAS, where she works on integrating social media/digital components into marketing campaigns. Meg contributes to the Customer Analytics blog covering all things social and tech related...including SEO, content creation, and network marketing. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Technology and Communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Connect with Meg on Twitter at: @Postgrad


  1. Meg, Thanks for putting together this post. It is a great post about social media marketing, but the steps you outline are valid for any online content. We use a similar guiding process to help improve our customer support web site as well.

    Great reminders. Thanks again.

    • Thanks Renee! Katie Paine's presentation was really very informative and insightful with key tips on instiuting a competitive social media strategy. I would love to hear more about what direction the customer support website is heading.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top