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January 21, 2010



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Patrick Long

Not measuring your marketing efforts' results is indeed stupid.

I'm interested to see location-specific data. Do you know of any source to this type of social media metrics?


Great post KD,

And I agree with a lot of what Debra is saying as well. I do think that the organization is benchmarking against themselves and their goals, but knowing where your competition fits in that equation is critical.

A good amount of my clients ask the ROI question: "What will my ROI be from doing social media?" Personally, I think people have lost site of what ROI actually means.

ROI requires an investment, and in using social media, that investment means people, time and resources. People don't work for free, and I seen ROI as a more long term measurement after a program has been up and running.

How do you tackle the ROI question with your clients?

Richard Bagnall

Hi Katie, As usual you are bang on the money with this post. We whole heartedly agree with this philosophy at Metrica. The sooner that folks understand that metrics need to be tailored to an organisation's specific goals and objectives the better! There was never a magic bullet that worked in main stream media measurement and there definitely isn't one that works measuring online conversations and social social media.


two thumbs up for this great blog. keep it up!

i find myself also lost in measuring the output of my marketing campaign. all i know is that my website which was set-up by Prova is doing wonders for me. i think i better know these stuff as well.

Debra Ellis

Of course, you should monitor what your competition is doing, but I stand by my position that focusing on your competition is an ineffective method for benchmarking. There is a difference between benchmarking and strategizing. Either one without the other ultimately leads to corporate suicide.

My comment didn't suggest wearing blinders to block out the competition. It does say that the competition's benchmarks don't matter. Access to real numbers from other companies is virtually impossible to obtain. If you do acquire them, any comparison is apples to oranges. They may have a 12% overall response rate compared to your 9%. But, if that rate is achieved by offering significant discounts, they are trading profit for response. Benchmarking your business by your competitor's standards is a dangerous game to play.

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They were doing really really well, but ultimately lost market share. By not comparing themselves to the competition, they never realized that their message and products were out of date and the competition was getting all the visibility.

John S

Great post. I do see clients falling into the trap of trying to find that elusive golden social media metric which, as you said, would not be applicable across the board.

I completely agree with you, Queen of Measurement. Both metrics are equally important: how do we compare to what we were doing last year, and how do we compare to our competition?

Queen of Measurement

Actually, I have to jump into this and tell you why ONLY looking at your own progress over time is a really dangerous practice. I had a client who instituted a very good measurement program that tracked its own progress in messaging and visibility month over month. They were doing really really well, but ultimately lost market share. By not comparing themselves to the competition, they never realized that their message and products were out of date and the competition was getting all the visibility.
Short version. You need both self benchmarking and competitive benchmarking.

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your comment is great, I think the same thing. It really is important how last month and last year went. So long as things keep moving up, times are good. I will say that there are many factors that can be measured that give a good indication of how things are going and where things are heading

Amber Naslund

Hi Katie,

Yep, I'm with you. I wouldn't go so far as to say discussions about measurement for business are irrelevant to other verticals, as I think there are parallels you can draw.

I spent many years as a non-profit fundraiser, and there are definitive impact points we needed to measure: cost per dollar raised, value of volunteers, engagement and connection to our cause, etc.

But again, while WHAT you measure is often different, the discipline of measurement still needs to be part of your practice. I refuse to settle for the notion that slushier things like engagement or relationships can't at least be demonstrated to have an impact or influence on harder business metrics (and if you're a nonprofit or an educational institution, you're still a business). It takes work and some creativity for how you quantify or qualify those things, and there's undoubtedly a margin for error, but it's still workable.

Your main point is well heard, though, and something I've stumped about for a long time. There is no "standard" that crosses verticals. I do think we'll see some consistent measurements emerge in specific and like markets, but they'll always be dependent on goals and objectives and the individual makeup of each business itself.


Debra Ellis


This is the problem with benchmarking whether you are measuring social media, direct marketing, or productivity. As a consultant specializing in marketing and operations integration and a proponent for measuring everything, I'm often asked, "how do we compare to other businesses?" (And by often, I mean hundreds of times in a year.) The answer is always the same.

It doesn't matter.

What matters is how your numbers compare to last month or last year. The best businesses compete with themselves, striving for continuous improvement. Even within the same industry, there are different corporate cultures and customer expectations that make comparison with competitors dangerous.

Thank you for this post. Hopefully it will help move people towards defining their own metric system.

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