There is no debating that one of the biggest (if not the biggest) dilemmas in social media marketing is the fact that we still can’t measure social media ROI with a satisfying degree of certainty and with general consensus (much less an industry-wide standard).
When it comes to social media analyitics (including mining the data accumulated from social networks, developing software and tools that can inexpensively and accurately collect the data and understanding what this new and exotic information means to a brand), we are simply, for the time being, grasping at straws — a very ineloquent and frustrating scenario for the leading business minds of the world who are just as stumped by social media ROI as a toddler (practically).
Where there exists tremendous challenges, there exists those who will grab the bull be horns and wrestle it to the ground. Web analytics has its wranglers in the form of two leading web analytics firms (Web Analytics Demystified and Altimeter Group) who have partnered to create the most comprehensive report to date on the biggest problems facing web analytics and, by extension, social media.
In this groundbreaking report (embedded at end of post), we are told right away why this issue of being stumped over measuring social media ROI should matter to everyone in business, from all corners of the world, who is using or plans to use social media as a marketing tool:
“Marketers around the globe are ranging from toe dipping to jumping all the way into the social marketing spaceyet most lack a measurement yardstick. While experiments can fly under the radar for a short term, without having a measurement strategy, you run the risk of not improving what you’re doing, justifying investments, and the appearance of being aloof to upper management. To be successful, all programs (even new media) must have a measurement strategy, and we’ve done just that.”
Several superstars of web analytics researched and analyzed the problem for this report and then consulted with some of the industry’s brightest in order to “wrestle the bull to the ground”. A few of the heavy-hitting analysts include ex-Forrester analyst John Lovett, (ex-Jupiter analyst) Eric Peterson (both from Web Analytics Demystified).Â Charlene Li’s (ex-Forrester Analyst) (@charleneli) and Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) joined the team from Altimeter.
They describe their herculean task in no uncertain terms:
“We co-developed this framework, and put our collective minds to work on measuring the rapidly changing social media marketing space. This self-funded research effort resulted in a thorough methodology as we interviewed over 40 ecosystem influencers.”
The thesis they put forth in this report is a social media measurement framework based on business objectives including fostering dialogue, advocacy, support and innovation with target customers. They also delve into the deep waters of analytics tools (applications) used, and needed, to measure brand impact and user engagement in social media (see chart below as an example).
It may seem like a lot to digest (and something for someone else to worry about) but when you have to justify to both your staff and your client whether or not the time, effort and money you invested in a social media campaign is paying off and, if so, what it means for the future of the brand, this report and some of the questions presented in it will come to mind — and it should.
This is the biggest mystery in social media marketing today. Someone will solve the puzzle – for sure. We may not know who that will be (or when) but maybe this is one small piece of the puzzle.
The report is below (along with the ability to download, share and embed it).
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