Measuring Social Media and Its Impact on Your Brand

November 18, 2010 - 5 Comments

As social and digital media continue to become a bigger focus for teams at Cisco, having a way to measure the impact and success of these initiatives is more important than ever.

  • What resonates with our customers?
  • Are we meeting our goals for specific audiences?
  • How can we better refine our strategy and tactics?

Having this information is crucial to making decisions about how our social media investment fits in to the overall marketing mix.

The good news is that we’re not alone—this is a common, top-of-mind challenge for many other companies and organizations too.

Research from eMarketer finds that nearly half of brands are not sure of social marketing’s value and has shown analytics and ROI are the single biggest obstacles to pursuing social efforts.

According to an article by MediaPost News that references a recent Forbes Insights study, one-third of U.S. companies plan to maintain or increase marketing budgets in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, and a higher percentage will set up guidelines and metrics to prove accountability. Having a solid measurement framework in place is certainly a primary focus for Cisco marketing as well.

As a first step to addressing this challenge we turned to measurement guru Katie Delahaye Paine. Katie helped us survey and solicit feedback from many of our most active social media practitioners at Cisco to learn about their primary measurement goals and priorities. The purpose of this process was to identify a limited number of key performance indicators that we can use to track and improve performance going forward.

As a result of this work, we have developed a social media measurement framework as a guide and resource for our internal teams at Cisco to help determine what and how to measure for their social media programs and initiatives. The measurement “streams” group the most common goals and ties them back to potential key performance indicators and metrics to track them.

This framework is meant to be flexible and allows people to pick and choose the measurement goals that are most relevant to their objectives and helps initiate ideas for any additional metrics as teams develop their plans. The intention is not to try and measure everything but to instead focus on what really matters. This is our first iteration of the framework and we welcome your feedback.

Here are a few other key takeaways that we’ve learned from this process:

  1. Don’t try to measure everything! You will be overwhelmed by meaningless data and will give up before you have a chance to analyze the information and gain insights.
  2. Be aware that readily available data can influence what you measure. Just because it’s easy to track the number of followers you have on Twitter doesn’t mean you should. If it’s not tied to your goals and objectives there’s no point in tracking it. Measure the things that are important to your team and matter most to your business.
  3. Share your measurement data and results. The more people you share results with, the more good questions they ask. Also, sharing what’s working and what isn’t helps everyone across the organization.
  4. You can’t measure change over time if you’re just looking at one data point. It’s important to put your data into a long-term context so that you can measure your overall efforts over time.
  5. Look at both quantitative and qualitative data. The numbers alone won’t always tell you a full story—qualitative data will help provide insights that you might otherwise miss and provide a holistic perspective.

Feel free to share your stories about how you’re measuring your social media efforts or whether or not this framework or any others have helped you. We intend to refine and develop this framework as we use it, and will continue to share what we learn with you.

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  1. Thanks, Stephanie, for a great article! I’m such a visual person, I really appreciate the Measurement Streams image—it helps me enormously in providing a context of understanding for the points you’re discussing, as well as demonstrating the integrated commitment Cisco has to its business relationships.

    Braden Wright
    Messaging Coach

  2. You can find the social media measurement framework diagram on slide 13: (view in full screen to see the text)

  3. I can`t see it clear about the picture,could you mail the full screen picture that can be seen clearly to me?

  4. Thanks for sharing your internal framework. This is really helpful. I’m wondering if you or an external agency does the tracking on these metrics or it’s up to the internal teams you consult with. Did you find there was work you had to do behind the scenes first to get applications talking to one another such as sales & marketing tools? Finally, what would you say of this list are the top consistently used metrics throughout your organization?

    Dora Smith
    Director of Social Media
    Siemens Industry Automation

    • Thanks for your comment and questions Dora. In answer to your questions —

      Internal/agency: It varies, some groups track their own metrics and other groups are working with external agencies.

      Applications/tools: Yes and we are still actively working on this. We have a number of different tools being used across Cisco and across teams. My team has introduced a couple of standard tools but we would like better integration between them and are exploring the use of APIs, etc. to do that.

      Top metrics: Again, it’s different group to group, but many of our activities fall within the Market Perception stream metrics. Moving forward, we are putting a stronger focus on Community Health, in particular around Engagement so I anticipate seeing more activity tied to that measurement goal.