I once sat in on a presentation given by Andru Edwards of Gearlive.com.  Someone asked about the value of Twitter, and he responded something to the effect of, “It’s here and people are using it. You’re gonna have to get used to that.”

If you are working as a marketer, PR person, advertiser, or any other related job-type, you might have a hard time making the case to your superiors that your company should create a Facebook fan page or its own Ning group. Why? It is so difficult to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns, because while they have the ability to create better public perception or increase share of voice, they do a poor job creating sales when they are not managed correctly. And, your managers do not even know those things yet. They likely just have the impression that it is an untested medium largely populated by people talking about how drunk they got last weekend or why they hate Britney Spears.

Leave Britney Alone - Chris Crocker

If you were to propose a new print ad campaign, you would argue for it using numbers: impressions, increased sales due to coupons or announcements, etc.  Why not get some numbers on social media so that you can do the same when you, say, argue your fledgling record label needs to post videos on Vimeo?

One of the biggest movements I believe we will see on the web this year will be an increased need for and discussion around social media analytics.  If you know your customer reps can turn unhappy customers into happy customers on Twitter, great! They should be on Twitter, but are you able to measure how many people you connect with there that are going to buy products from your website?  Do you know if that ability exists?

How about this? Website analytics is fairly well understood now, but what about web (and I mean the WHOLE web) analytics? What about social media analytics? Do you know where people are talking about you and what they are saying? Do you know what people are saying about your competitors? Because, you need to if you are going to try to measure growth in a social media campaign in a serious industry. You need to know the size of the digital footprint your company has on the web and how a social media campaign can change that. Otherwise, when you go to your boss to argue for getting everyone on Twitter, you might be hard pressed to find more reasons than “Well, everyone else is doing it.”

Swimming with the SharksEveryone can sign up for free Google Alerts and Tweet Alerts, but few hardcore social media measurement tools exist, and those that do are primarily used by social media marketing companies that are carving out their places in a field that is set for huge success or huge failure this year. If your company is hesitant to jump into the social media frenzy, that is fine, but when you make an argument for it, realize that people are talking about you and your competitors, and if you do not have the tools, counseling, or skills, you will not be able to participate in the conversation and will therefore miss out on the chance to use social media to grow your business.

Do you know of valuable ways to measure social media impact on your business?  Working in the industry, I am aware of plenty, but so many impressive tools pop up everyday that I cannot always keep track of them. 😉

Written by Eric Pratum