Putting the Numbers in Social Media

In her 2011 article “Social Media Monitoring Delivers Quick Returns” Sarah Skerik writes about the discomfort that many senior marketing officers have with opening their corporate wallets to fund social media strategies.   “A new report from IBM detailing the extent to which CMOs were unprepared for the advent of social media revealed that while most CMOs consider social media to be a key engagement channel, only a quarter of the large group surveyed were actively tracking blogs, and about half paid attention to different types of reviews. Not surprisingly, the CMOs indicated that expressing ROI on social media is difficult. Furthermore, most of the CMOs surveyed indicated that developing their skills and understanding of social media was low priority.”

However,  ignoring the voice of the consumer can be risky, and one  reason why the CMO’s don’t place a high priority on it is that they’re not convinced they can measure its effectiveness or translate it to revenue growth.  So to help these confused corporate communicators get a handle on social media’s ROI, I applied the Project Management Book Of Knowledge, (PMBOK) to put my own spin on the problem.  The PMBOK applied to Fenton Communication’s See, Say, Feel, Do system published in 2011 sheds light on the problem. 

Develop a business case for social media conversations that you would like to engage in. Create a project charter and find a corporate sponsor who is willing to drive the social media efforts in your organization. Develop a high level budget, list assumptions and  identify key stakeholders  involved in making your social media project a success.  Further define the desired business results and tie it back to an individual social media metric.  Fenton calls this “the DO”, and its defined as what do you want people to do as a result of the social media conversation.  DO Metrics could include: Donations, Advocacy actions, Event attendance, Membership, Volunteerism, Sales.

Once you can link the desired business results, e.g., more sales revenue, store visits, etc, it becomes easier to identify specific tasks, resources, time estimates and the budget necessary to create those social media channels that will achieve those outcomes. Create a project calendar and timeline for when each social media channel will be installed, how it will be updated and the resources allocated to achieving these goals. Identify and evaluate any risks that might prevent you from meeting your goals.

Design and install the social media channel, ie blog, the Twitter account etc., Facebook page and update it regularly with customer-centric content according to the social media project plan. Change management systems should be put in place to fix problems and document why a change was done to an online social media  channel, who worked on it and if it will affect the final time and cost baselines.

Monitor and Control
Regularly check  and measure against your social media engagement plan to see if  you are meeting your targets. Fenton calls this the “SEE” part of your plan, and it can include:  Facebook Page Like totals, Twitter follower totals, website traffic, email sign-ups, RSS subscriptions, advertising impressions, and earned media impressions.

In the Project Management world, no matter what the outcome of your social media project, it is important to properly close the project.  Writing a Lessons Learned document, releasing resources  and documenting whether goals and objectives were met and whether the project will be continuing on as an ongoing process.

By applying the rigor of project management to the art of writing and monitoring surprising, useful social media content, companies can measure its impact on market share and profitability.

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