Courtesy of Stuffosaurus

You’ve met these folks. The ones with 2 million followers, 1.2 million people who like them on Facebook. And those with a Klout score 5 times higher than you. Cue the musical medley. Do you hear it? It’s the sound of Kristen Chenowith … ah yes, that’s “Popular.” But really, what does it all mean? Should we measure our worth by the number we wear?

Last month, I attended a KC/IABC program on ROI. In this discussion, one of the presenters exclaimed, “Measurement is easy! Social media measurement is easy!” The room fell silent, as we all said to ourselves, “Well, if it was easy, 60 other people in this room wouldn’t be here.”

Measurement is not easy, and social media measurement is especially in question. There is no consistent model and no one is right, meaning no one is completely wrong. So, what do you do if you’re implementing or thinking about implementing social?

For me, social media should be measured by engagements and the impact they have on conversations and traffic, not the pure volume of friends you bought or happen to accumulate over time. As we sit down and talk to clients about ROI or ROE, we have to look at two distinct things – our outputs (activities) that lead to our outcomes (metrics). The importance of viewing your social media participation through these lens is to get a tangible grasp of what we can measure, which we hope will answer the question of “Why are we doing this?” Popularity goes beyond simply being the loudest person in the room. And to be honest, we should go beyond trying to be popular, and try to find purpose in being a credible, valuable resource.

A ROE/ROI example can be found below, showing the output versus outcome discussion, shared above.

Output Outcome Results
Tweets you send Increased number of followers Increased word-of-mouth exposure
RTs you share 1:1 engagement Increased word-of-mouth exposure
Responses and conversations via social 1:1 or 1:few engagement Increased word-of-mouth exposure
Blog posts you publish Shared content, content liked by others, comments Sentiment; Blog traffic; monthly unique visits, page views
Facebook posts you share Shared content, content linked by others, comments Sentiment; increased traffic to Facebook; increased traffic to other sites

How are you looking at measurement and engagement? Do you use a similar model or a different model?