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Should social media’s numbers be quantified?

September 8, 2008

If an agency launches a social media campaign using measurable media (twitter, facebook, YouTube views) should there be a numerical goals attached to each one?

I think the answer is clearly yes, but these numbers should be different from the goals. Social media goals are important. Indeed, all marketing should have a goal of some sort. In a previous post, I outlined what I thought should be in a social media brief. Here are the highlights:

What are we doing?
Define the scope of the project. Is it part of a promotion? Part of a campaign? What are we being asked to create?

“buy me and you'll g...Image via Wikipedia

Why are we doing it?
Is this a stand along effort, or part of an overall communications strategy that includes traditional advertising?

Who is the target market?
Define the person. Give as much background on the bulls-eye candidate.

What media do they currently consume?
Supply a general list of media they consume, i.e. instant messaging, texting, TV, radio, podcasts, blogs, social networks, etc.

What is the objective?
What do we want the target to do? At the end of this project, what is the definition of success? How will we measure the target’s actions? Define the goals in terms of results.

When and how will it end?
Social media campaigns might have to stop. How will you stop it?

Notice, there isn’t a part here for setting numbers. We don’t set the goal of 1,000 Facebook Fans, or 100 followers on Twitter.

But upon further review, I’ve added this goal. If we start a campaign, we’ll set numbers to shoot for. So even though the objective might be create awareness, and even though the page views aren’t good at explaining if the goal was achieved, the numbers are still nice to have. They get the client and the agency thinking about a bar that has been set.

And, it gets the client and the agency thinking about compensation. Because right now, in advertising, we get paid the same for an ad whether it ‘works’ or doesn’t. Indeed, the client pays us for the ad without worrying about the results. Better than expected results only keep the business, they don’t mean more income for the agency.

Maybe that should change. What if a compensation bonus was tied to numbers? What if the SM campaign blows up. Or the top ten list of things to do with your client’s product gets press all over the country? If it’s wildly successful, then the agency gets a bonus. (And maybe take a little risk in the compensation arena by expecting it, thus, if it isn’t successful, it’s less expensive).

Why not? Social media is quantifiably measurable, even though, it’s not really measurable in terms of sales and it demands patience, and it demands that you listen, etc.

A little bonus here and there never hurt.

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