The Triple A’s of Social Media Measurement

Posted: March 20, 2013 in Module 9

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Author, Olivier Blanchard, in his book “Social Media ROI” writes:

“It is easy to get sidetracked by typical social media metrics that don’t have much of a bearing on business objectives. Focus on establishing a social media program measurement practice that caters to an organization, not a celebrity. Popularity and popularity metrics are not necessarily what you want to spend alot of time and energy on.” (at p. 195 )

As Blanchard points out, in all areas of  business, including public relations, it’s not about about the level of celebrity (fans and likes or the amount of retweets) unless that celebrity can be converted into a measurable outcome that furthers an organization’s goals.

So, how do we measure the ROI of social media?

The first response to that is that we’re still learning.  The area of social media metrics continues to evolve.  Thanks to sites like “Social Media Monitoring Wiki” or “Social Media Monitoring Review” the latest tools are continually laid at the pr professionals doorstep.  But how do you choose?  Even if money is no object (lucky you) – you still need a way to determine what’s best for your organization.

How do we stay focused?

Again, referring back to Blanchard’s quote above – social media measurement needs to have a bearing on business goals and objectives.  A useful way to keep the pr practitioner “[focused] on establishing a social media program measurement practice that caters to an organization” is to apply the triple A’s: Action, Attitude and Attention.

Action includes: clicks, retweets, shares, wallposts, comments, @replies, webcast attendees, downloads, and RSS feed subscriptions (or whatever replaces it).

Attitude (or influence) includes:  sentiment, share of voice, volume of interest and influencer mentions/reports.

Attention (or exposure) includes: visits, views, followers, fans, subscribers and brand mentions.

(for a slightly different take see: “The Evolution of Social Media MeasurementMarch 21, 2012)

The Triple A’s and conversion

All or some of the metrics listed under the triple A’s may be valuable and should be considered as potentially part of your p.r. social media measurement strategy. But for most organizations they are the means and not the end.  The intangibles that make up actions, attitudes and attentions need to be converted into tangible objectives (such as sales) that in turn allow an organization to achieve their goals –  whether those goals are financial or say, getting re-elected.

By monitoring and tracking actions, attitudes and attentions correlations can be drawn between them and tangible objectives such as frequency (buy rate), reach (number of new customers) and yield (average dollar value of a transaction) (Blanchard at Chapter 16). Decisions can then be made based on patterns that emerge.

Oreo as an example

However, we need to be cautious around the conclusions we draw. Correlations there may be.  Cause and effect – not so clear. Say for example, after Oreo’s brilliant Superbowl tweet that Oreo sales went up.  Based on this, it would be tempting to conclude that your ROI can be directly equated with the number of Twitter followers you have.  But what if it wasn’t the number of followers, but the number of retweets, or what if it was because of the influencers who mentioned the ad.  Or was it a combination? And, were the sales the result of new Oreo cookie buyers or were they loyal buyers who bought more?  We need to drill down like all good researchers do, asking questions, testing hypotheses and measuring over time to truly understand what is having an impact and why, so that we know what’s been successful – and what’s worth further investing in.

It all fits together like a jig-saw puzzle – necessary to expand and grow

As Maggie Fox (Social Media Today) penned, “Every part of the social media measurement evolution journey has brought value to evaluating the impact of Social on Leads and Sales.  Moreover, every measurement remains important but should not be represented on its own; they all fit together like a jig-saw puzzle and provide input necessary to expand and grow engagement and lead generation opportunities.”

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Comments
  1. MeagRuston says:

    You make some very good points: how to measure social media success is a process of continuous learning. We must look at all the factors, reposts, retweets, influences, # of fans, etc. and test hypotheses and so on. It’s a large puzzle, and organizations have to take note of these trends in order to gauge success.

    great post!

    • janettegw says:

      Thanks Meag! Yep, it’s a puzzle! But I know you’d agree – not only will it benefit us to solve it, …it’s pretty cool too! powerful AND cool!

  2. Great post! I hadn’t seen the Oreo’s tweet. That’s an excellent way to capitalize on a current event in a way that stays true to the brand’s ethos. And, as you say, only by drilling down into the data of exactly what made that tweet such a success can Oreo, or other brands under the Nabisco or Mondelēz International organizational umbrella hope to repeat it.

  3. janettegw says:

    I meant to say, “I wonder if they’re as good at metrics as they are at ads?” My sugar may be low… going to go grab an oreo 🙂

  4. reneelm says:

    Thanks for the great post! There are certainly a number of free monitoring tools out there, as well as affordable ones, but as you mentioned it is important to take the time to determine what will best evaluate the impact of your actions, attitudes, and attentions in your PR program. Even after this is established, will they work well to present a comprehensive “jigsaw” puzzle that shows how everything contributes to your business objectives?

    Blanchard discusses in his book that everytime you receive funding for your social media programs, funding is taken away from some other program or department. Money is always an issue (just a bigger issue for some than others) and as practitioners you need to ensure that the ROI trail can be followed back to you and your team.

    • janettegw says:

      Thanks Renee! You’re right about funding. But for some of us its currently even a little tougher than that. In the government agency I work in, there is no allotted funding – so there’s nothing to “take away”. I’m hoping that will change – and I believe it will. There are signs that many of the C-suiters are on board with investigating the possibilities of social media. Boyd also gives those of us in the public sector additional hope by pointing to people like Meghan Warby who is, from all accounts, breaking ground for us across the public sector. Seems like there’s opportunities for us too – private or public sector – to be ground breakers. And, with insights like yours… seems you just might be one of them!

  5. Hi Janette,
    I really like the look of your blog and all the visuals! Great job! I also appreciate the links you’ve included to the Social Media Monitoring Wiki and Review. These are great resources. Yes, the wonderful world of social media, while simple, as one of the authors we’ve read stated, is not easy. I think one of the most challenging aspects is the whole area of measurement and ROI. While there are a plethora of tools available, it really comes down to human beings looking at the data and trying to make some sense of it, and figuring out the impact of the efforts against objectives. I wonder how many organizations are doing this really well as this also requires a significant investment.
    Thanks for your insights!
    Jeannine

  6. janettegw says:

    Hi Jeannine! Thanks for your compliments, very kind of you to say. As for investments – I’m hoping that this week’s assignment that has us review free tools along with paid versions gives us some options no matter where we work, or what our goals are. Thanks again, J.

  7. jlomom2boyz says:

    I love the Oreo moment during the Superbowl. It’s true the strength of an argument proving that one tweet caused an increase in sales would be questionable. But I’ll bet te next time you went to the grocery store you thought twice about those Oreos and maybe even put a bag in your cart lol!

    • janettegw says:

      Hi J! Right you are! Oreos can “count ” me… and my daughter. We both now have Oreos in our cupboard, and more than one variety! We’d be in the measurement category of – were loyal, haven’t bought them for years, now have returned… And in returning, we are trying different varieties (increased buying) – and then there are the different demographics – her age group – and mine. I wonder how we compare? And, you? (smile)

  8. Lively discussion . . .wow! Remember not to get to caught up with the dollar element of ROI. I have asked the question on other sites: Does your organization as HR to put a dollar value on recruiting or an attractive work space which COULD improve productivity? There are lots of example in companies in which an investment is made without an ROI (gain-cost/cost in dollars).

    • janettegw says:

      Yes, I know! Fantastic discussion! How great is that!

      I really appreciate your comments about ROI not always being about the dollar amount. Given what I do for a living, I’ve really been struggling with the perspectives that say Blanchard and alot of other social media commentators are writing from.

      Then again, I haven’t been able to find alot on non-financial ROI. And, I have tried – since non-financial ROI would I think more directly apply to my professional reality.

      Having read your comment, I just did a search that combined these words: “ROI is not just about dollars”. The best I’ve so far come up with is this – ROI for Meetings: It’s Not Just Dollars & Cents by Harvey Chipkin posted April 14, 2011
      (found at http://www.travelmarketreport.com/content/publiccontent.aspx?PageID=1367&articleid=5552&LP=1 )

      In it he discusses “intangible ROIs”. I’ll keep looking, including searching for what you’ve posted on other sites. Would really love to hear more from you on this.

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