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Jim Sterne: Social Media KPIs Depend on the Individual Organization and Goals

A while ago I talked with Jim Sterne about his latest book Social Media Metrics, a must for everyone that wants to have a measured and valuable social media marketing approach. Read Jim’s thoughts on social media KPIs and metrics.

In a short interview I asked Jim what metrics and KPIs marketers should take into account regarding social media marketing. But I also wanted to know what he thought about all these new metrics and KPIs we are introducing all the time when it comes down to social media. What can be measured and what can’t?

This is what Jim answered: Social media KPIs are all dependent on the individual organization and its goals. But generally, we are looking at ‘impressions’ or reach. How many people had the opportunity to see the message? Next, we want to track influence to see whom we should be catering to and making sure we treat them well. Then, there’s the question of sentiment – something we may never be able to monitor technically – to help us get a handle on and track brand attitude. Finally, we need to measure business outcomes. Is our activity on social media driving visits, downloads, registrations and sales?”

Sentiment is indeed hard to measure. How do you feel today on a scale from 0 to 10? How do you feel when you read a blog post from a CEO? And what’s the impact when you see that one ad you so despise on your attitude and sentiment towards that brand?

However, remember what Jim answered; sentiment is something we may never be able to monitor TECHNICALLY (noticed the last word?).

You can’t measure the sales affected by a well known blogger saying nice things

Next I asked Jim what he thinks about claims, coming again from some social media mavens, that you can’t measure the ROI of social media. I told him I always thought marketing ROI was about forecasting and measuring at both micro-levels and macro-levels to get the overall picture and that the best way to do it was to measure everything, starting from the tiniest metric and KPI to have a global view of the incremental revenue for every dollar spent.

This is what Jim replied: “Classic ROI is the number of dollars out for dollars put in. You cannot measure the exact number of dollars out on a branding campaign, unless you have some really good way to create a control group. In other words – you can’t.

Yes, @delloutlet can determine how many boxes shipped out the door based on a tweet like 15% off any Dell Outlet Inspiron Mini10v Nickelodeon Edition! Enter code at checkout: 1JM0JKHKHP?N4J at http://cot.ag/drTG70, but you can’t measure the sales affected by a well known blogger saying nice things or an unhappy customer being made happy again in the course of an online, open, visible problem-resolution conversation”.

So, what can you do then?

Jim: “You have to measure it the same way you measure all other brand investments. You ask (survey) people who have been exposed to the messages about a shift in their opinion or attitude about the company and/or the product”.

Measure. Yes, you can.

UPDATE: READ THE FULL STORY IN A SPECIAL REPORT ON SOCIAL MEDIA KPIs AND METRICS.

Watch the short video Jim recorded when I asked him “what mainly matters in social media marketing according to you?”