You can measure everything online, so why aren't we?
eMarketer published a news item today titled, 2012 Trends: Social Media Metrics Take Center Stage. The beauty and promise of the digital channels is that Marketers can measure, track and play with analytics unlike any other advertising or marketing channel that we have ever seen before. And yet, with all of this potential and opportunity, we're trapped with a "me too" mentality that finds more and more brands doings things in Social Media with the sole purpose of making sure that they're just keeping up with The Joneses (the competition), instead of carving a unique path and making sure (on the upfront) that they're establishing both relevant and money-thinking return on investment programs.
Here's the truth...
This is what the eMarketer news item says: "The Econsultancy report 'The State of Social Media 2011' noted that 41% of marketers surveyed had no return on investment figure for any of the money they had spent on social channels as of October 2011. Further, only 8% could attribute ROI for all their investments in social media. The survey sample was primarily UK companies, with some representation from other territories. A 2011 MarketingSherpa study noted that only 20% of US agencies and consultancies surveyed said their clients thought social media marketing was producing measurable ROI. However, 64% said clients were confident that this form of marketing would eventually deliver a return and were willing to conservatively invest in it."
We're doing it all wrong.
For Marketing to elevate itself within the c-suite, we can't be recklessly playing with Marketing tactics (especially newer ones that don't have the established credibility) to be pushing programs out there with the hope that there may... eventually... be some kind of ROI. This is the business equivalent of running around like chickens with their heads cut off (which was never a pleasant or appetizing visual). There are probably countless reasons why this is happening, but gazing at that quote from the eMarketer news item above, it seems clear that most brands jump in because their competitors are doing it. It also seems like they're trying a lot of different things in the hopes that something will hit, click or get talked about.
Start with the strategy.
While it may sound redundant (if you've ever read this Blog before), when you start with a strategy, you're defining your goals, key performance indicators and the desired outcomes prior to publishing anything. As a core component to the strategy, you should also define the metrics and how they will be measured (the analytics). It's fine if there are certain components that you can't measure (i.e. some of the more semantic dialog that may take place on a channel like Facebook because brands don't get access to all of the data), but beyond that: don't do anything that doesn't add economic value to the company (as my friend and distinguished marketing professor, Ken Wong, likes to say).
If you can't measure it, benchmark it and iterate on it it... don't do it... please.