Measuring Influence Is Hard

By Christian Buckley posted 06-21-2012 13:48


"The problem with measuring social media through last-click attribution is that social channels tend to engage people at the top of the sales funnel rather than right before they buy."


Some of the points made by HubSpot's Meghan Keaney Anderson in her excellent article Why You're Struggling to Measure the Value of Social Media are spot on. With the rise of social media as a primary nurturing utility for the sales pipeline, as well as net-new customer marketing tools comes the need to manage and measure these tools. Unfortunately, the old performance indicators are not a clean fit.


Take my role as an evangelist: how do you adequately and accurately measure the success of my influence? Traditional models will look at the first customer touch point, or possibly the last, and attribute significant weight to the sales, once made. Some systems are better than others, tracking campaigns and activities across the customer lifecycle, giving a better picture of customer interaction. But how much weight can be given - should be given - to my interactions with that customer? They had their badge scanned at a tradeshow, and entered our system. Monthly emails were sent for the good part of a year, highlighting features and discounts. Then the customer attends one of my sessions at a SharePoint Saturday event, and drops a card to win a signed copy of my book. Then maybe they attend a webinar or two put on by my marketing team and sales engineers, and a month later decide to purchase our product.


What influenced the purchase? The initial connection at the tradeshow? The months of regular emails? A presentation by the evangelist and face-to-face interaction? One or two very impactful webinars? Therein lies the problem with influence measurement.


Meghan provides an excellent outline of where social should be measured:

  • First-touch analytics -- track that first interaction with the customer
  • Multi-channel analytics -- track ongoing interactions, campaigns, downloads, and so forth
  • Audit of social content -- data on the overall success of social content, including downloads, hits, re-tweets, etc.
  • Best time to post -- looking at the timing of your messaging to optimize your effectiveness
  • Measuring influence -- adding weight to the interactions

As I commented on Meghan's article, this last measurement is the most difficult to accomplish. The company that can most accurately track this measurement -- and make it available via API to my CRM platform -- will find tremendous success, because the social marketing space is only just beginning to grow. Look at the sudden rise of Klout, with all of its weaknesses (it is overly reliant on Facebook and Twitter, and doesn't take into account blog traffic or, arguably, quality of FB and Twitter traffic), and similar services like Kred.


Measuring influence is the key to measuring the success of social media. And those who go beyond the limited capability of free online tools will find themselves with a distinct competitive advantage. 


#influence #management2.0 #social #socialnetworking #measurement