Article: Social Media, From the Drawing Board to the Board Room

Website Magazine asked me to contribute an article on Social Media Measurement for this Fall’s issue, if you’re a web strategist at a corporate and need to justify your social media program these practical steps will help you get started.

Yes, it’s ironic that there’s a print magazine about the web, but you can read much of it online anyways.

The need to measure is especially important during these early years of social media adoption at corporations, why? The need to justify something new and different will determine resources and budgets. When social media normalizes, we’ll have less need to prove ROI, and more focus on making this an efficient way to reach customers.

You can access the article on their website or read below.


Below: Article for Website Magazine

Social Media: From the Drawing Board to the Board Room
By Jeremiah Owyang

As the Web continues to evolve, so must corporate marketing and communications channels. Social media has become yet another way to take advantage of the Internet. But, blindly navigating the social landscape can be time consuming and costly — you need to measure your efforts. To get an idea of everything involved, let’s look at the case of one individual, Betty, who put forth a bold plan to harness the power of social media.

As the community evangelist at a major technology company in Silicon Valley, Betty had quietly implemented public blogs, podcasts and user forums within a sub-marketing department. While the traditional communication teams churned out their press releases, brochures and other broadcast communications, she was connecting with customers in a two-way fashion.

With the hiring of the new CMO, a department-wide audit process of all marketing programs was underway. While the success was clear in her mind, Betty now had to prove to the new boss that social media was important to the corporate direction.

With the hiring of the new CMO, a department-wide audit process of all marketing programs was underway. While the success was clear in her mind, Betty now had to prove to the new boss that social media was important to the corporate direction.

While some of the measurement concepts remain the same as traditional Web analytics, there are some new ideas to embrace. Unlike the traditional website where users browse and harvest information, the tools of social media are unique by allowing people to connect with one another. Also, Web marketing has expanded beyond just the traditional organizational website and search results pages — it has spread to everywhere people are talking about your industry or market.

Here’s how Betty and other social media program managers get started measuring a new type of media:

Define goals
Betty knew her support and product teams would save time if they had tools that let information flow. She had her goals in mind before deploying her program — for without a specific purpose, there’s simply nothing to measure against. For some, there could be several goals; to reach customers, drive awareness, listen to the community, respond quickly during a crisis or just connect product teams to customers to build better products.

Measurement from the start

Measurement should be baked into your program before you launch. It’s not an afterthought but a part of the process. Betty deployed free analytics tools, monitored comments on the blogs and was able to use feed subscription analytics, like those offered by Feedburner. Plenty of data was already present, even if she didn’t know exactly how it was going to be used.

Free analytics tools — use them!
There is an arsenal of free tools to initially get into the process of measuring. Web analytics (Google Analytics), RSS analytics (Feedburner), link trackers (Technorati) and keyword instances (Google Alerts) are some. The sophisticated measurement process is a method of gathering intelligence — analyzing incoming links and discovering who is talking about your company, products and key employees.

For best results, don’t over analyze

For the sake of efficiency, measuring trends is more effective than tiny movements. Once you define the goals of the program, paring down to the most important attributes will make the job easier. No one wants to be inflicted with “analysis paralysis.” While Betty was taking in loads of data from a variety of tools, she knew there were a few key metrics that would be her benchmark over time.

Staying alert in real time
Social media sites are breeding grounds for memes — series’ of ideas that spread throughout a society and often mutate and take on a life of their own. Effective memes are a crux of viral marketing, but negative memes could shatter your brand. In Betty’s case, staying alert saved her company from an embarrassing situation. While she was able to keep track of activity within the forums, customers were starting to report problems of a recently launched product. She wisely passed this information to product and support teams and a patch was quickly released before the issue grew out of hand — all in near real-time.

Measurement processes will always differ, depending on goals

Betty developed several different social media strategies that required differing measurement processes. For example, her product-focused corporate blogs served a different purpose than her audio white paper podcast program, so she learned that measurement depended on the goals. You may never measure the same way, the goals of each program will change the method in which you measure. The attributes will stay the same, but you’ll just use them in different ways to create a new report.

Reporting best practices? Tell a story!

For Betty, her new CMO knew about blogs and forums but did not know how they impacted their organization. An avalanche of facts and figures is not effective in showing trends. Betty learned to tell the story by using timelines; where she was and where she was headed. She also learned to insert a few key quips and anecdotes of successes and, of course, a few lessons learned.

Qualitative is often more important than the numbers

The opinions, voices, and experiences that people are sharing are what really matters to prospects and customers. The written anecdote that turns prospects to customers may be more important than a lengthy clip report. Betty started her reports with unbiased opinions of a customer convincing a prospect. There’s nothing more powerful than a customer evangelist. For Betty and many other program managers, new media requires a new strategy and new measurements. In addition, many of these ideas may be deemed non-traditional or unrealistic to corporate decision makers. Therefore, a strong case backed by the proper analytics data must be presented to move forward in the social networking sphere. In the end, Betty was able to demonstrate actionable success, impress her superiors and, over time, she grew her program and ascended into management.

About the Author:
As the Director of Corporate Media Strategy at PodTech.net, Jeremiah Owyang (web-strategist.com/blog) is a social media consultant to Fortune 1000 corporations. Jeremiah is a blogger, videoblogger, speaker, and former Online Community Manager at Hitachi (HDS).

Thank you to the ever smiling Tina Magnergård Bjers who helped to edit this piece here at PodTech.

  • http://blog.awakenedvoice.com Rob Safuto

    Nice work Jeremiah.

    One of the missing links here is tracking of media files. Google Analytics doesn’t track audio or video files. FeedBurner does to an extent, but only if the video is linked as an enclosure in the RSS feed.

    I’ve helped our team at RawVoice to create a media statistics redirect program that can provide meaningful data on streaming and downloadable media, regardless of web host, publishing system or RSS feed.

    We’re also trying to teach podcasters that their reach is a quotient of media stats, website visitors, RSS subscribers and off-site (like YouTube, Blip.tv) media views.

    Its not easy but having a plan definitely helps.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Thanks Rob, you are right, tracking media is difficult, esp when it can be ripped and put on YouTube.

  • http://www.herbsawyer.com Herb Sawyer

    Working and deploying social media strategies I’ve noticed one section that would love to get your thoughts on – not doing a social media plan in a vacuum. I’ve noticed that the best social media plans, and the ones I’ve gotten clients to at least consider, where always a part of the larger strategic equation.

    I know social media will work stand alone, but the fact that social media is about conversation, sharing information, it seems to work better if its a part of larger idea to share content or tactics with.

    Herb

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Herb

    That’s right. I’ve observed some of the best social media strategies are coupled with programs we’re already familiar with.

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  • http://www.dpkpr.com Dan Keeney, APR

    In the PR realm, we focus on three basic categories of objectives, each of which we seek to measure in different ways. These include:
    1) Awareness/education – Your target learns about what you are communicating or advocating.
    2) Attitudes/opinions – Your target feels positive/negative about what you are communicating/advocating/fighting.
    3) Behaviors – Your target takes a desired action.

    I was involved in the tobacco wars back in the 90s and they serve as a good example. We needed to make people aware of the fact that tobacco was targeting children, we needed to communicate in such a way that adults were outraged about it and finally we needed to turn those opinions into behaviors — go to the polls and pass tobacco taxes.

    Each of these builds on the other. You need to build awareness before encouraging opinions and finally enticing the desired behavior. I don’t see the measurement challenges for SM being significantly different. Surveys can create a baseline and track changes in awareness and opinions, and behaviors can be tracked by creating special phone numbers or Web sites that only are promoted through SM initiatives.

  • Adattchooth

    Nothing seems to be easier than seeing someone whom you can help but not helping.
    I suggest we start giving it a try. Give love to the ones that need it.
    God will appreciate it.

  • Taitrathjix

    Hey, I’m online! ). And see you again.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Herb

    That's right. I've observed some of the best social media strategies are coupled with programs we're already familiar with.