Social media is nothing new. It’s been around for almost two decades. However, new practitioners are constantly entering field, and with every new marketing professional comes the risk of repeating the mistakes of the past. The old aphorism, “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” is just as true in marketing as it is in life.
In this series, we’ll examine modern enterprise social media strategy, what marketers need to know to make social media work for the midsize or enterprise organization.
Part 9: Conclude
We conclude our enterprise social media strategy series with a topic near and dear to every CMO and CFO’s desk: measuring the impact of social media. How should enterprises tackle the measurement of social media efforts?
Let’s look at the way the average social media practitioner reports on their efforts. The average practitioner begins with activities, then reports on outcomes of those activities; they posted 25 times last week on 4 social networks, and from those efforts netted 5 new followers.
The above average social media practitioner attempts to tie their efforts and outcomes to something outside of social media itself. For marketers, they might attempt to tie social media activities to website traffic or lead generation. For customer service-focused social media practitioners, they might attempt to tie social media activities to overall customer satisfaction scores.
What does the enterprise demand of us? Enterprise social media necessitates flipping our worldview, measuring based on the outcomes we chose in the Clarify stage. We have our defined goals; from those goals, we worked backwards to develop our strategy, tactics, and execution. To measure and report effectively, we should present our data along the same path.
Report on Goals and Strategy
Did we achieve our goals? If so, by how much did we (over)achieve? If not, by how much did we miss them?
Our goal reporting is focused solely on what we agreed to in our Clarify section. If the CEO demanded more followers on Instagram, and that was set as our mandate, then we report on that. Our personal perspective on whether the goal was reasonable and impactful doesn’t belong here – a bad goal should have been ironed out in Clarify.
For the average top-level stakeholder, reporting on goals is probably sufficient, most of the time. The only time we are likely to be asked to provide more data is if something has significantly varied from the expectations we set. If a program either wildly over exceeded or badly missed its goals, we will likely need to provide more information.
Our focus in reporting at the strategy level is to determine whether the program overall was a success or not, based on the goals set.
Report on Tactical Choices
In this section, we report on Create, Choose, and Connect, our tactical selections. When we report on tactics, we report on the outcomes of each tactic, based on quantifiable measures.
Which content formats worked best? Which topics, themes, and ideas resonated most with our audience? When reporting on social media content tactics, we typically look at engagement numbers. How many likes, comments, and shares did we earn? How much traffic did our content generate?
Which networks and channels worked best? Did Facebook outperform Instagram? How did Twitter work for us? Like our content choices, we focus on engagement and action metrics. We also compare and contrast; did paid social media work better than organic social media? If we paid, what did we pay, and do we have an understanding of our return on ad spend?
Which audiences and influencers worked best? Who delivered the most impact, from engagement to traffic to brand mentions? Who was most difficult to work with? Who was easiest to work with?
Our focus in reporting at the tactical level is to make future choices based on tactical effectiveness. Which things should we do again? Which things should we retire? What should we add budget to next time? What should we reduce funding for in the future? We don’t report just for the sake of reporting; we report to inform future decisions.
Report on Execution
In this section, we report on how we did at execution, what we did, when we did it, and how well or poorly we did it. In contrast to tactical reporting, we focus more on ourselves and our resources in execution reporting.
How coordinated were we? Did we achieve all our program milestones on time and on budget? Did we post content when we said we would? We use coordination reporting to help improve the skills of our people and partners.
How well did we engage with our community? Is our community vibrant and thriving, or lingering and morose? How many interactions did we have with our community, and what quality were they? We judge our effectiveness at community management here. Who among our people showed a real aptitude for managing the many personalities in our social media audience?
For monitoring and crisis communications, how well did we thread the needle? How skillfully did we navigate any crises? If we experienced no crises, how thorough and timely was our monitoring and reporting? Could we have detected crises faster? Did we head off any crises at the pass before they could snowball into problems with serious legal, financial, or personnel repercussion?
Our focus in reporting at the execution level is improvement. Who in our stable of employees, partners, vendors, and agencies outperformed the tasks they were given? Who needs help, correction, guidance, or replacement? Our social media capabilities are ultimately rooted in our people; only through continuous improvement will our enterprise social media strategy truly deliver high impact results.
By reporting our social media program results this way, we prioritize what our stakeholders care about most. We also minimize what Avinash Kaushik calls "data puking" by focusing on key performance indicators first:
- Our most senior stakeholders may care only about top-line program results; they may not care about anything other than goals achieved.
- Our middle management may need strategy and tactical reporting to judge their effectiveness.
- Only our line managers and staff will likely need execution reporting, to better individual performances.
Focusing on enterprise social media reporting in this manner also lets us streamline our reporting infrastructure. If our top stakeholders require little more than a simple dashboard with green and red arrows, we will not necessarily need to invest in millions of dollars in sophisticated data warehousing and processing.
Finally, by providing appropriate, contextual reporting and insights for each level of our organization, we provide the most impactful information to create change and improvement. There’s little point in providing strategic guidance to an intern; it’s equally a waste of time to provide “most effective times and days to post on Instagram” to the CFO. Report what matters most at each level in the organization.
This concludes our Enterprise Social Media Strategy journey. Thank you for reading it, and I look forward to your comments, suggestions, and feedback about it online and in person.
The 8C Enterprise Social Media Strategy Framework
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 1 of 9: Introduction
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 2 of 9: Clarify
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 3 of 9: Create
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 4 of 9: Choose
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 5 of 9: Connect
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 6 of 9: Coordinate
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 7 of 9: Collaborate
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 8 of 9: Communicate
- Enterprise Social Media Strategy, Part 9 of 9: Conclude
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