There is an entire industry of consultants that didn’t exist three years ago, telling people how to collect thousands of followers on Twitter; how to gain friends and fans on Facebook; and how to leverage large networks on LinkedIn. These consultants are writing books, conducting web-seminars and selling services.
The thing that gets too little attention is what all this is worth? Sure, you can grab a small nation’s worth of Twitter followers, but will it make you any money if they aren’t paying attention to your Tweets?
It would be nice if there were a few key metrics and some nice neat formulas you could follow, but social media is evolving too quickly and the measurements aren’t that simple.
In the end, if you want to know whether your time with social media is well spent, you need to do the following:
Set a meaningful goal. Is the purpose of your social media outreach simply to gain followers? Then you’ll have an easy time measuring, and a hard time proving that the effort was worthwhile. Instead, set a more specific goal, like this: To generate sales of $XXX (or X number of sales transactions) from members of our social media network.
That way, you’ll not only have a pass/fail measurement, you’ll learn something important along the way: i.e., how many new connections it takes to achieve a sale.
Assign specific tasks. If more than one person is going to be involved in the social media effort, make sure that each person knows his or her specific role. For instance, one person might conduct the outbound communications while another works to convert inbound communications into leads, and still another works to close sales.
This way, the entire job will get done — not just the fun part of blogging and tweeting. Further, when things don’t go perfectly (they won’t), you’ll have a team of experts who can figure out what adjustments to make.
Track everything. Time is money. So while social media programs are astonishingly inexpensive in terms of hard cost, you’ll want to know how much of each day your team members are spending on social media vs. their other responsibilities.
If you do these three things, then measuring gets easy. If you have goals, an organized work effort and good data, determining whether your resources are well-spent will be easy. Just like the example of Reality Digital, also from Computerworld.