Katie Paine’s 6-Step System for Perfect Measurement

Step 1: Define the goal (i.e. what business problem are you solving?)

Sit down with your boss, your boss’ boss, your board, or whoever holds the budgetary sword of Damocles over your head and get agreement on why you are even contemplating the campaign, initiative, or program that you are starting.  What’s the desired outcome? If you can’t answer that, go back to your boss or whoever came up with the bright idea of doing it,  and make sure you can all agree on a set of goals, objectives, and desired outcomes.

Step 2: Prioritize your goals and target audiences

Chances are, your desired outcome or goal falls into one of three basic categories:

  • Sell more
  • Improve/repair relationships/reputation
  • Get the word out about a new product, initiative, event, campaign, or senior leadership’s theme of the month

Your rationale for the campaign/program/initiative may incorporate all three, but for the purposes of designing your measurement program, pick one and only one.

  • Sell more –
    • This might be translated as “increase market share,” “sell this widget,” or “increase donations or memberships.” If you are using social media to essentially push a product or a service, then you are in the “social media as sales tool category.” Those who desire this outcome will only be satisfied if you can show an improvement to sales/revenue/donations.  That means you’ll need to have access to data from your CRM system (such as Salesforce)  or conversion data from Google Analytics (or whatever web analytics tool you’re using).
  • Improve/repair relationships/reputation –
    • Social media is often used to change your image in the marketplace or your community, re-position your brand, or appear “hip” to a younger generation. If your primary reason for taking the social media plunge is to change perceptions about your brand or your organization, improve your reputation for customer service, or other awareness or preference goals, you’ll need to be thinking about a survey or a content analysis of your social media.
  • Communicate specific information in an educational way or for emergency response –
    • This category is primarily for organizations like the government or the American Red Cross that use social media to warn or educate people. Typical outcomes for this use of social media would be to broadcast warnings in the event of a storm or get the word out about shelters.

Once you’ve prioritized your goals, you need to identify the specific target audiences you are trying to reach. Whoever they are, it will not be “anyone with a pulse.”  Get a demographic, psychographic profile and/or a defined list of personas who are interested in what you’re pitching. That will define the media outlets or platforms that you need to measure.

Step 3: Define the benchmarks

Before you can begin any measurement program you need to know what you will be comparing yourself to. Ideally, you’ll compare yourself to the competition, but in a pinch, it can be yourself over time. Regardless, it isn’t measurement if you don’t have a benchmark.

Step 4: Define your Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the specific metrics that will define your success. They typically start with a percentage, as in:

  • Percentage of discussion in which your organization was favorably positioned on a specific issue
  • Percentage increase in website visits lasting two or more minutes
  • Percentage increase in goal conversions
  • Percentage increase in trust
  • Percentage increase in preference and/or consideration
  • Percentage increase in registrations
  • Percentage share of favorable positioning in the marketplace
  • Percentage share of desirable discussion
  • Percentage share of quotes
  • Percentage increase in awareness
  • Percentage increase in willingness to consider or prefer

Whatever metrics you agree on, be careful and choose wisely; you become what you measure. In other words, you should measure whatever you need to do more of.

Step 5: Select measurement tools

You have three basic tools to choose from:

  • Content analysis –
    • If your goal is getting the word out, you’ll need to analyze the conversation about your brand, product, or issue to see if the messages are actually being discussed. Content analysis involves the collection, reading, and coding of the various items of discussion that mention your brand. You can track them yourself for free via Hootsuite. Or hire a firm like CyberAlertTalkwalker, or Prime Research to do it for you.
  • Survey research –
    • If your goal is to increase awareness, understanding of your positioning, preference, or otherwise change your positioning in the marketplace, then you will need to ask your audience what they think. Use Survata or Survey Monkey to do pre/post testing to find out if you’ve moved the needle.
  • Web analytics –
    • If your goal is to drive traffic to a website, increase engagement in the brand, or educate your publics, then you will need to use a tool like Google Analytics or Omniture to do the counting for you. You will to make sure that your data set is robust, consistent, and continuous in order to track activity over time.

Step 6: Analyze the results, draw conclusions, glean insight, and present your report

Data is mere trivia unless you analyze it for meaning. So what if your competition is killing you on YouTube? How does that affect what you recommend: Increase the budget? Shift monies away from advertising? Invest in Google AdWords? This is where you use your best judgment, examine your results, and prepare a report.

In any results presentation you are essentially telling a story. There is a background to the story – the methodology and what is being measured. Then you build interest in the story by pointing out the most interesting, surprising results (note: bad results are even more interesting than good.) Finally you wrap up the story with a conclusion and recommendations on how it will be better next time.

No matter what the story, follow these guidelines:

  • Keep the methodology brief, and add detail when they ask questions because by that time you’ve grabbed their attention
  • Be clear about your goals
  • Explain any anomalies and surprises
  • Be sure to add a “conclusionary” headline to each chart to inform and enlighten your audience on just what the data in the chart means
  • Make sure you put everything in the context of the organization’s mission
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