This post is dedicated to Huw Sayer, Gary Dickenson & Sally Ormond, following an involved Twitter discussion between us, over my recent post ROI in Social Media: Taking the Numbers Out of the Equation. And a subject Gary had covered in a post some 2 years previously: Why you can’t base twitter success and expertise on stats.
We were all in agreement. It’s the engagement that counts, “ROR – return on relationships”, as Sally suggested. That still left us with a dilema: Business needs to measure things. You can’t just say to the boss, have faith I am doing the right thing, it will all come good in the end.
Or can you?
We can’t predict earthquakes or their strength, yet we know they will occur. So we build properties in fault zones in a way that compensates. We prepare for the inevitable. Practise evacuation procedures. And know to stand under door frames or get out into the open. Can the same be true for Social Media? We know business thrives on relationships and engagement, which are built from conversations. We can’t predict the effectiveness of the conversations but we can do all we can to to maximise that, taking every opportunity to have a conversation. We can improve our customer serivce, make our company more open, garner customer opinion.
How do we do this?
What is being said about your brand or the hot topics in your industry that you can improve upon or add an opinion to? What’s positive and what’s neagtive? If you started to correct those issues and respond publicly what’s the likely response? If you started to answer questions with quality answers how do you think you will be perceived? See this is not difficult, it’s not a science. Of course, you need the tools to enable ease of communication and engagement. It could be Twitter, Facebook or even as Caterpillar found it may be more suitable to use old fashioned forums. Connect these into your CRM systems, monitor conversations and the results with applications like Raven Tools, cultivate the discussion, adapting where necessary.
Taking it to the HIPPO
The Highest Paid Person’s Opinion will count, he is going to want some numbers. But you are not going to talk about followers and fans, you are going to talk about engagement and discussions. About saved sales, highlighted weakenesses that have been corrected, positive customer feedback. Rate sentiment, have it as a key metric. Maybe 5 positives this week, 10 next. One metric I found useful was links to our content. Great content is engaging, one of the relationship builders. People link to engaging content, share it, spread it around and if you are publishing regularly as part of your social strategy you will see backlinks to your site or blog grow. As these grow so will natural search referrals, the two go hand in hand. Average time on site increases. Bounce rates decrease. Before you know it you are back to using standard site metrics to highlight the performance of your social activity.
Can you really do without the numbers? Well maybe at first, you need just a little faith.