Social Media Analytics — The Next DEWmocracy?

by Barb Cote on May 19, 2010

Barb Cote

Web Analytics Demystified and Altimeter Group have recently released a white paper that explores social media measurement and what metrics to consider when participating in social media. This is an intelligent “stab” at trying to identify the most important information worth measuring and some sensible yet perhaps subjective metrics.

Web Analytics Demystified provides objective strategic web analytics advice to companies striving to realize the full potential of their investment in web analytics, while Altimeter Group is a research and advisory firm that provides companies with a pragmatic approach to disruptive technologies.

The introduction to the paper outlines the problem nicely.  “Social media measurement means so many different things to different people that a series of definitions are necessary. Unlike traditional marketing programs like advertising, direct mail or other one-direction mediums, social marketing is complicated as messages spread from individual to individual in a non-linear fashion… Merely collecting digital data without cause is a recipe for disaster. Organizations that develop social media measurement strategies, which align key success metrics with business objectives, will evolve more quickly. This requires a pragmatic strategy and a measurement plan.”

The researchers came up with their own definition of social marketing analytics: “the discipline that helps companies measure, assess and explain the performance of social media initiatives in the context of specific business objectives.”

The report identifies 4 primary business objectives and 3 key performance indicators (KPIs) within each objective. These four objectives serve as a foundation for effectively measuring social marketing.

Objective 1- Foster Dialog: Dialog involves starting a conversation and offering your audience something to talk about while allowing that conversation to take on a life of its own. The KPIs include share of voice, audience engagement and conversation reach. This is often demonstrated in the IT space when a new program is released and software developers quickly create their own forums to share what they are doing to modify the code for their own purposes, asking each other questions and showing off their creativity.

Objective 2 – Promote Advocacy: The business objective of consumer advocacy enlists the support and dedication of individuals that are ambassadors. The KPIs involve creating advocates, measuring their influence and their impact.  We are seeing a rise in this area as brands look to their brand advocates to create unsponsored advertising content and act as credible spokespersons.

Objective 3 – Facilitate Support: This is an easy-to-understand objective when you picture the area of customer support channels and how social media has extended the ability to foster ongoing dialog. This is the area that we have seen so many examples of what happens when customers are unhappy — they create videos and post to YouTube. Suddenly when your customers Google “customer service” they see the infamous video of the serviceman asleep on the customer’s couch, rather than getting a link to your customer support site.

Resolving service issues through social media channels via direct company response and crowdsourcing, comprise the “Issue Resolution Rate.”

Objective 4 – Spur Innovation: Gathering customer insights, processing ideas and community feedback and delivering new products and services to the market with credit and acknowledgement to customers form the 3 key performance indicators for spurring innovation. I saw a Mountain Dew TV ad,, that introduced 3 new flavors which they invited consumers to sample and vote on. The interesting difference for this brand expansion was that their own customers had created the new flavors — not the R&D group.

These four objectives seem like a simple approach, but the daunting challenge of measuring and assessing subjective data, like positive vs. negative vs. neutral attributions, will require continued revision. Whenever we take vast amounts of free-form information and try to harness it with straight forward metrics, there’s a danger of interpreting to support our own biases.

It is interesting to observe the continued rush to accurately measure and analyze social media, as these applications quickly adapt and evolve to meet consumer  and business appetites.


Web Analytics Demystified

About the Author:

Barb Coté is the Creative Director at SIGMA Marketing Group.  Follow Barb on  or connect with her on .

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