Social Media Metrics for DummiesLeslie Poston, author of Social Media Metrics for Dummies, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions the vCDO had about measuring social media effectiveness.

vCDO: With the flood of data available, how do you figure out which ones to focus on to measure success?

LESLIE POSTON: With an almost infinite number of data streams, the key to success is to avoid applying a formulaic approach to the data coming in. Focusing on the right data requires a clear knowledge of your target customer and your existing customer, and a firm grasp of your goals as a brand. What works for Hewlett Packard in terms of data consumption, analysis and use is not going to work for a mom and pop store with a local focus. Pick between five and ten metrics that are relevant to you business and tie to your sales. These might include location metrics, mobile app metrics, web site sales funnel metrics, sharing metrics or incoming search metrics, for example.  If you can budget for a tool like Optimizely or similar, great! If not, plan to use Google Analytics and a less expensive tool such as Woopra and to get familiar with spreadsheets and manual study of data. 

vCDO: How do you help executives to focus on things beyond Followers and Likes?

LP: Tie marketing and sales together. Use your content metrics to show what content and social media is driving your conversions. What type of marketing assists sales the most? Use your metrics to laser focus on the marketing that is delivering the most ROI. You should also use them to test new marketing and social media campaigns so you can adjust them on the fly.

vCDO: Do you need to spend a lot of money to analyze your social media performance?

LP: No – you can use free and low cost tools like Google Analytics and your favorite spreadsheet program to analyze your data with great results.

vCDO: You are a fan of Google Analytics. Which numbers should a C-level executive focus on in these reports?

LP: It depends on the type of business they are in and what their goals are. For example, a retail business wants to know how far people get in the progress down the funnel from content to purchase. In this case, paying attention to where people drop out of your website marketing funnel can help you refine your site pages and your site content to be “stickier” and keep people in the funnel longer. You can also analyze your business value and make sure you are delivering the type of experience and quality that leads to retaining the customers you have. Retention metrics are too often overlooked.

vCDO: How can an organization gauge its overall social media performance when many individuals may be using their own accounts?

LP: When an organization has people using personal accounts as well as corporate accounts, it’s important to use a variety of methods to track this. Having a great listening system in place will help immensely. In addition to gathering data to listen to what your employees say about the company you can also use conventions such as hashtags and campaign specific site links to track how each employee is impacting the business, or implement a system like Addvocate, Influitive or Branderati if you have the budget.