I’ve been “doing” social media for large companies for around seven years now. Five years ago, I wrote this post: “Is ROI an evil MBA term? More on the ROI of blogging“. Man I had some good ideas on how to measure the ROI of blogging in that post! A key theme I talked about (that I believe is still very valid) was if our organizational resources are more and more human (vs machines, objects, etc.), we have to re-examine the metrics we gather and measure to prove return on investment. I said this:
This is where we as performance and learning specialists can come to the aid of our MBA friends. Proving that your human assets, the information workers that hold the means of production inside their heads, are being utilized the best way possible is very different than proving your datacenter or factory equipment is optimally configured.
I’m a fan of measuring activities, and only investing in the ones that provide value. But here we are five years down the road, and we still are measuring machines, not people, when it comes to the value social media activities provide. Most common measurement I see is clicks – do I have enough clicks. With the rise of content marketing, now people are measuring clicks as they relate to every section of a sales funnel.
If you only measure clicks as they relate to a sales funnel, as gathered by a program that looks for relationships between keywords, you are doing social media wrong. Even worse – if you are only putting content up to push those clicks up…you probably don’t even get the real concept of content marketing.
Those things are important to measure, but even more important is connecting and communicating and collaborating with your audience – and I see my audience as our customers, potential customers, as well as our partners, press and analysts, and internal folks. Good content can spur great conversations….and that’s what you should be looking for. Not just clicks in your funnel.
Hell, bad content can spur even greater conversations….just look at what happened when Bill Cosby’s team social media tried to get twitter to generate content for them. It was a pretty epic fail – still wondering if that campaign was outsourced to an agency. We have to own our content, we have to be in our communities with all of our audiences consuming what they share, offering ours. Interacting with each other to make the content relevant. Then you can measure clicks, because there is a context for each piece of content, every bump in interest.
You can measure clicks, or you can figure out how to measure ROI. But ROI when humans are involved is sticky and messy and won’t be collected by a script. You have to be a member of the community to understand the context, and you have to do the hard work of cultivating trust, and then painting the picture for your stakeholders.
I love my audience – they keep me on my toes. I’m going to be more present