It is a common theme of ours here at The Measurement Standard that the best measurement is that which links your efforts to business objectives. (See, for instance, "The All-Purpose Answer to PR Measurement Questions: Measure Business Impact -- Part 2, Social Media.")
When trying to understand the value of social media, it is especially easy to become sidetracked by social measures (for instance, likes, followers, and retweets). It is usually much more informative to measure the results of your social efforts that actually move your business or organization toward its objectives (like leads, donations, email list signups, new hires, or information downloaded).
This is the point of Mack Collier's excellent recent post about measuring Twitter: "Why Social Media Measurement Fails Most Companies." He says, "The bottom line is that effective social media measurement is all about figuring out exactly what YOUR goals are, then measuring metrics that tie back to those goals." So true. --WTP
(And a big, big thanks for that excellent image to Virginia Miracle and John Moore a.k.a. @BrandAutopsy.)
--Bill Paarlberg is editor of The Measurement Standard blog and newsletter, and of Katie Paine's new book Measure What Matters. The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement.