With your Social efforts, measure what matters!

Social ROI, Measure what Matters

In my conversations with small business owners, I can guarantee that a portion of our conversation will center around how to measure their “Return on Investment (ROI)” on social media efforts. In most instances, it becomes clear relatively quickly that they don’t have a clear social media strategy or are trying to measure their social efforts against their business objectives. In many instances, they are spending money on creating content or community management, which relates to posting on preferred social platforms x number of times per day; with no themes or understanding of why or who they are serving (everyone is not your perspective clients). The issue is knowing what to measure and how to measure it. Fortunately, there are many great resources available to help you do just that; books, eBooks, whitepapers, online measurement tools and much more (my favorites you’ll find in the resources listed below). Do you know what to measure? How do you define “your success”? Your definition of success is likely as different and unique as you are from your competition and neighbor.

It is such a common issue with big and small companies alike, that Mark Schaefer felt compelled to write “Social Media Explained” released earlier in 2014. Thank goodness he did. I’ve given his book to clients as a precursor to starting their work, especially with small business owners concerned about issues like;  is social just a fad and the “time suck” that social will have on their business. The book is not a how to do social media, but really more of “why” you should invest in the latest business practice that has made a significant impact on how we connect with our key stakeholders today.

In Chapter 2, Schaefer relates his experience with Home Depot and likely one that we can all relate to (mine was purchasing a new car). He describes how there were many opportunities for small interactions with him. Schaefer notes; that when done well these small interactions lead to customer loyalty, referrals and increased business:  “creating these small,  consistent interactions that delight, educate and inspire people to become customers and then reward their loyalty with personalized attention and meaningful content”.  In his case, none of these small interactions, ever once alluded to getting a discount coupon. In fact he quotes research from Edison Research that indicates: “57% of American social media users follow a brand on Facebook for no other reason than they have an affinity for that brand”.

For purposes of this post, Chapter 6 is where I’ll direct you to. It is here where Schaefer demonstrates the 4 reasons “why you MUST measure the results of your social media efforts”.  I’ll let you read the points yourself, and you really should (the book is readily available in many different online and retail outlets and takes about 1/2 hour to read).  My concern is that you know what to measure. We were told early measurements with social was initially to  accumulate a high like/follower count to show your value. Then with follower buying,  the measurement of how many of those likes/followers that were interacting with your content (engagement), was the goal. However, just chasing followers without the interactions leading to a sale or influencing a sale, means your popular, but likely soon to go out of business. In the resources, you’ll find information to help guide you, but really, you have to decide what to measure as it relates to your business goals. Beyond the tangible benefits, Schaefer makes a case and highlights clear examples of intangible benefits, that are a little harder to track, but not impossible.

If you’ve not yet got the book, here is Schaefer’s great SlideShare post entitled “Engagement is not a Strategy” based on chapter 6:

But are dollars and cents the only measurable outcomes. Many pundits note that you can’t really measure social media efforts and I hope that the paragraph above and resources below, destroy that notion. But as noted, there are softer benefits that may seem harder to track. For example, is it possible to measure how happy your key stakeholders are (clients, prospects, employees, volunteers, vendors, etc.). Would you get a straight answer if you asked them? Fortunately research indicates that you likely would, if you were sincere in receiving the feedback. I find that most metrics we use to measure social media are equivalent to measuring the Gross Domestic Product where the indicators are focused on pure tangible economics. What can the country of Bhutan, teach us as business leaders?

Since 1972, this small Asian country has been using a Gross National Happiness index to determine the health of the country, it’s economy and it’s citizen’s. The work has been adopted by other jurisdictions around the world, but can it be applied to business? The answer appears to be yes, but we are being slow to adopt it in regular business sectors, likely because it seems “airy fairy”. Fortunately Chip Conley, founder of “Joie de Vivre”, a successful hotelier, author and speaker – made the connection in his 2010 TED Talk below. In his presentation, Conley urges us to return to our school days when we learned to count, but change what it is we count. Using the illustration of a highly valued employee (Van Quach) and her impact on guests, Conley began to look at the way his hotels and his business counted. After reading Maslow and reflecting on leadership, Conley noted: ” One of the simplest facts in business is something that we often neglect, and that is that we’re all human. Each of us, no matter what our role is in business, has some hierarchy of needs in the workplace”. 

Conley continued reading and doing research and noted that a high percentage of leaders believed that intangibles (he notes intellectual property, brand loyalty and corporate culture) had an impact on the success of their businesses, but also that they believed there was no way to effectively measure them and only 5% even tried. The presentation makes a good case for adding some additional measurements to your equation. How valuable is that customer that maybe only visits you once or twice per year but has directed many more friends and acquaintances to you?  If you don’t track that, you’ll never know.  The TED talk is 17 minutes, but I believe that as you reevaluate what you track and measure, it’ll be 17 minutes invested very well.

Ask yourself, does a business model designed for a highly industrial and manufacturing based world, really work well for a 21st century knowledge based economy (where a full 68% of our businesses are service based). As Conley asks, maybe it’s time to add some new tools to our toolbox. We understand that happy employees = happy customers and that results in improved profits, but are we focused on it?

The first step to measuring your success and social media efforts, is to know (remember) why you got into business in the first place. What is your why? I believe that we intuitively understand that engagement is a tactic, that money is an outcome and not an end goal. As many have said before, you could have the best product/service in the world, but if no one likes to conduct business with you they won’t. You could also have the best priced product/service in the world, but if it’s of substandard quality, eventually you’ll lose that customer and spend the rest of your career on the acquisition trail of new customers. Set your business goals and have your marketing, customer support, sales and social media strategies align and flow from those goals.

What do you measure?



Return on Relationship: Ted Rubin

Return on Influence: Mark Schaefer

Maximize your Social: Neal Schaffer

The New Relationship Marketing: Mari Smith

On Line Links:

Not Tracking Social Media ROI is Your Fault: Jay Baer, posted in Convince and Convert,

How to Measure Social Media Influence; Debra Eckerling posted in Social Media Examiner March 26, 2014

10 Questions to Ask When Measuring your Social Media ROI – Kim LaChance Sandrow, Entrepreneur November 18, 2013

Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Metrics/ROI: Moz Blog


Resources Page:  from Razor Social




Gordon Diver

Gordon Diver is father to Spence, partner to Joan, engaged in community and a marketer interested in social business and in delivering exceptional service.


Stephen Lahey

Great post and some really interesting resources, Gordon. Thanks for sharing this.

Gordon Diver

Thanks Stephen. Glad you found the post and the resources of value.

Elise Cohen Ho

Gordon, I love your presentation. Thank you for the resources. You are absolutely right that we must ALWAYS remember the human side of things.

Gordon Diver

Thanks Elise. A lot of my thinking has been impacted by the work that you and others are doing around achieving balance and establishing more meaningful relationships. I’ve always been conscious of the our most finite resource, time; and want to spend it as wisely as possible in both professional and personal pursuits. Appreciate your time stopping by and commenting on the piece. Stay well.

Keri Jaehnig (@kerijaehnig)


This information is good for small business owners especially to see. Love the way you tied resources to ideas!

There are so many “social media gurus” out there sharing their ideas, and many have not actually done what they present. It is so important for business leaders to hear from people actually working social media and gaining success — Those that know what is actually possible and how success is obtained, measured.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!


Gordon Diver

Thanks Keri! Appreciate you stopping by and leaving your thoughts. As I’m sure you’ve experienced with your clients (before you sorted them out of course), without measuring what matters to them, it’s so easy to get pulled off toward the new and shinny and lose focus on what they’re hoping to achieve for their clients and themselves.

[…] and examples of content creation. A good example was demonstrated on this blog in our last post. Mark Schaefer’s re-purposing of a chapter from his latest book, into a powerful ebook that […]

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