KPI or ROI in social media measurement…you be the judge!

This week I have spent a bunch of time reading news and blogs relating to last week’s Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.  One blog of particular interest to me highlighted a speech given by Margaret Francis, VP of Product at Lithium entitled  “Measuring the Future: New Metrics for New Media”.  Here’s the gist of it: in her presentation, Ms. Francis talked about the need to focus on KPI (or Key Performance Indicators) rather than just on the ROI of your social media efforts.   This idea of KPI over ROI really resonated with me. 

Now, you must be wondering if I am out of my mind.  How could I possibly forgo ROI for KPI?  Well, it’s simple, the results of social media efforts generally have a long tail, meaning it can take a long time to reap the rewards of your efforts.  So what is a poor marketer to do when the boss wants ROI metrics and all you can tell them is “we will have to wait and see, be patient?”

So what KPIs would I use when it comes to social media?  Interestingly, they are in some ways very similar to the KPIs I use for my traditional  marketing campaigns.  They are:

  • Improving Brand Equity and Preference—is my brand presence increasing among my “community”?  Are my social media efforts generating better brand recognition?  Are my social media efforts moving my brand up on the Top-of-Mind Meter?  Are my social media efforts driving affinity for my brand?  Are my efforts helping me charge a premium for my brand? These are the types of things I would be measuring here.
  • Increasing the Quality of My Lead Generation—did my efforts on social media help me obtain not just leads, but quality leads?  At the end of the day, I would much rather have 10 highly qualified leads than 1,000 unqualified leads (meaning that they aren’t able to buy my product any time soon). 
  • Making My Customers More “Sticky”—are my social media efforts assisting in my customer retention efforts.  If I am focused on Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), I want my customer relationship social media efforts helping me keep customers longer so that they can bring more value to my organization.  Oh, and I want to make sure my efforts are providing value to them as well…don’t misunderstand me here.
  • Moving the Revenue Needle—is topline growth being impacted by my social media efforts?   This is a no brainer, but it needed to be said.  This can be one of those long-tail things that I worry about….just it is easy to measure.

And, now for the big question in all this…how am I going to measure my social media success?  Well research of course!  I bet you knew that I would say that!  And guess what?  I can do a lot of my research digitally.  To the Cloud!    

What KPIs do you use to measure the success of your social media spend?

Happy marketing!

2 responses to this post.

  1. Well done Sharon. This is an important topic. My experience is that the tail can be slow and subtle to start…but oh does it pack a punch when it comes around!


    • Posted by sharonmarkovsky on April 8, 2011 at 6:32 am

      Thanks Mike!

      I believe that there are a lot of people out there that think… “oh this social media thing…I will just jump in and large bags full of money will come my way”. We both know that doesn’t happen (very often). I like including KPIs in the mix because they are very important to ROI in the long run and they are something you can measure today. And, as a marketer, I live and die by both KPI and ROI.

      Thanks again for your insight!


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