Think “Over Time,” Not “Point In Time”

ROI-graphA hypothetical scenario for you: your communications director comes to you and tells you that thanks to their department’s activities, there were 200 mentions of your brand online, of which three quarters were positive in tone.

Is that good news? Is it bad?

My answer: I have no idea.

Why? Because there’s no context.

Context, please

As social media begins to mature as a communications opportunity, the pressure to demonstrate measurable results will only increase. However, that measurement needs to have context.

Having three quarters of conversations about you be positve may actually be a bad thing if 80 or 85 per cent are usually positive. Two hundred conversations may actually be a drop in volume compared to the norm. Without context, you have no way of knowing.

Telling me that our online outreach increased the proportion of positive conversations by 15 per cent to 75 per cent means a lot more than just the number alone.

What’s your baseline?

People often talk about social media being a long-term proposition. We need to think about measuring social media in the same terms. That means setting baselines – investing a small amount of effort to draw a line in the sand, from which you can measure your results. Sometimes the baseline may be zero, but in most situations that won’t be the case.

How do you draw that line? Here are a few options:

  • Do a conversation audit – use free or professional listening tools to look at online metrics over a period of time
  • Conduct some market research – commission a few questions in an omnibus poll to measure how things stand
  • Analyze your website statistics – traffic volume, sources, conversions, etc

The way you measure your baseline is up to you. The most important thing is that you do it.

For communicators to justify their budgets, they need to show the delta – i.e. the difference between before and after. Without “the before,” you have nothing.

Make sense?

(Image: Shutterstock)

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.