In my experience, the discussions around “social media metrics” are an opportunity for people who don’t want to try social media to provide a seemingly legitimate reason to avoid wading into social media waters. They can play this card because, frankly, there aren’t a lot of solid metrics for social media right now. It’s the perfect way to act like you’re interested but provide a defensible excuse to abstain.
I believe in social media marketing.
I believe it works very well when used correctly.
I believe it’s been worth trying without solid metrics, but it’s also time to start pushing harder for metrics as well.
I believe social media metrics are necessary and important for some businesses to really begin taking it seriously, and for those already using it to validate why they jumped in.
I hope to begin unraveling the notion that social media is without metrics beginning now.
The LACE Method for Social Media Metrics
I recently launched the LACE method you see below with a client and I’m beginning to implement it with other clients as well. I’m already finding it to be helpful in setting expectations and goals from the outset of a social media initiative. Here are the four parts of the LACE method for measuring social media:
L – Leads: One of my clients has an active sales staff that is now beginning to use Twitter and Facebook. Their own internal lead tracking software is going to reveal over the next several months which leads came through social media. If you don’t have leads tracking software yourself, your blog or website analytics will provide a lot of the data you’re looking for. For instance, did other blogs, Twitter, accounts, websites, etc. refer people to you? If so, that’s in your web analytics. Those were leads for you. Whether or not you did anything with them is up to the quality of your website or blog. You can also ask customers how they heard about you and even provide surveys after a purchase or initial contact. All of this provides lead data that can be traced back to social media.
A – Awareness: Awareness is simple in theory. It’s all about the right people knowing you exist. You can measure how many people know you exist by the number of mentions about your company, products, and leaders with various social media monitoring tools like Twitter Search or Technorati for blog monitoring. You might even want to check discussion boards at BoardReader.com. There are other social media monitoring tools available [Shameless plug: my company does this too] but the idea when you start is to determine a baseline of mentions over the last 30 days to 12 months and then build from there. After doing a social media strategy for six months (maybe less) you will be able to quantify whether more people know you exist than when you started.
C – Customer Service: One of the most overlooked opportunities with social media is the chance to meet very real customer service needs. I first started thinking about this last summer and since then we’ve seen companies like Comcast and Southwest Airlines actively monitor and engage customers in social media by meeting their customer service needs. When you engage a current or potential customer through social media, you’re saying a lot about your brand, products, services, and company. This is an easy way to win big with the people who are most likely to talk about you anyway. It’s also important to remember that if you don’t do customer service well, people will use social media to fire back at you. Just ask United Airlines. They broke a guy’s guitar and he took to YouTube, and then it just grew from there. Now there’s a catchy little tune called “United Breaks Guitars.” Seriously, it’s catchy. Kind of like a jingle…but in reverse.
E – Engagement: Engagement is all about conversation. In the same way you can measure awareness, conversation can be measured. Engagement is the active side of the monitoring work. Whereas awareness doesn’t require you to actually talk to anyone, engagement only works when you do. One of the two currencies of social media is conversation, so don’t take this lightly. In the same way that you can begin with an awareness baseline when you get started in social media, you can determine your engagement baseline. If in six months of starting your social media work you’re not having more conversations with people, you’re not doing something right.
Undoubtedly there will be more on this as I continue to refine the LACE method of measurement. If you decide to try it out, please let me know in the comments, via Twitter, or by email. I’d love any feedback that will help move this entire discussion forward.