Last month WebNewser reported on a study that showed the vast majority of organizations (84%) don’t even try to measure the return on investment of their social media efforts. Because, you know, social media is just a fad and all, like the Internet, television and saying “fo shizzle.” (Well, the first two.)
Today over at Mashable, Christina Warren has a helpful “how to” column all about measuring social media ROI.
You should check out her post, but basically the drill is that you first must define clear goals, then find and learn how to use/understand various metrics tools (Google Analytics, Omniture, HootSuite, etc.).
But as Warren explains, dry numbers can’t tell the whole story. So she recommends “sentiment analysis,” which enables you to look beyond mere mentions to gauge whether they were positive, negative, neutral, informational, etc. In other words, in social media all publicity isn’t necessarily good publicity.
Most critical of all is making the data usable and useful. Warren advises:
After you have defined your baseline, you need to take the metrics from your monitoring tools and see how they correlate to higher sales, better customer retention, or whatever your primary markers for output are.
As Warren notes, “This is the hard part.” What’s harder, though, is trying to craft/justify/implement a social media strategy with no useful way to measure its effectiveness. The business school term for that approach is “wishful thinking.” In today’s ultra-challenging economy, you’ll need much more than that. Fo shizzle.