Only you can determine what it will take to prove your efforts are a success. So what will it take? Measuring engagement is tricky. For example, BusinessWeek has a tool they call the  “Reader Engagement Index.” They calculate the ratio of comments to posts on blogs. Which measures engagement on the blogs, but if a reader also forwards the link to a friend, quotes it in their blog or encourages a connection to comment, then the numbers are skewed.

Forrester Research defines the engagement between individuals and brands in terms of the four I’s: Involvement, Interaction, Intimacy, Influence

Can you measure that? Maybe you can.

For small business owners, ROI on any investment is crucially important, and it can make jumping into social media pretty scary because of the lack of hard numbers.

At a social media presentation, someone always wants metrics to gauge the success of the campaign. The question about metrics is, what data would be valuable to you and how do we measure it accurately? Of course you can measure the increase in traffic, the number of comments and links to your blog, the number of users and posts in a forum, how many views of a podcast. but how does that translate to sales? Do those metrics tell you the value of your campaign?

Many social media experts have either created or located systems for gathering metrics on social media ROI. Usually they are a combination of tools, depending on the client, their tracking priorities, and which platforms they’re implementing. Getting that balance right is getting easier every day. We’ve come a long way from reading raw server log files and field interviews to learn about whether it’s working or not.

Before you start any marketing campaign–including a social media campaign–you need to set your goals and how you will measure your success. Then, and only then do you decide how you’ll get there and what tools are best suited to serve.  Take the time to set yourself up to succeeed by doing some homework. Segment the market to find the niche to pursue and then use your listening tools to find where that niche is already engaging.

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