The Spin Sucks community is an interesting one.
While the vision of the blog is to change the perception of the PR industry, we also talk a lot about marketing, advertising, search engine optimization, social media, and entrepreneurship.
Because of that mixed bag of goodies, the readers come from all walks of life and are not all communications professionals.
I love that.
Today I want to talk to those of you who are soloproneurs, freelancers, business owners, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. Although, because this is about measurement, those of you executing programs that affect an organization’s growth will also get something out of it.
Starting a Business
Like many of you, when I went out on my own and decided to build a company from the ground up, I did so because I knew there had to be a better way of doing communications that actually affected revenue growth.
And I was right.
But what I didn’t bank on was doing less of my craft and more of the things where I had no experience: HR, accounting, accounts payable, leadership, mentoring, business development, vendor management, facilities management, working with the bank, and maintaining relationships with other business leaders.
Things, for a while, were going along really well. So well, in fact, it was okay I wasn’t so good at those things. Organizations were hiring us like crazy because we did really good work.
Suddenly, like you, I had to be good at all of the things listed above AND this new fangled thing called social media.
It was almost a blessing no one was hiring outside communications help because it gave me three years to learn what I didn’t already know about running a business, including this social media thing.
In the beginning, social media “experts” advised to worry less about the ROI (“what’s the ROI of your mom?“) and more about just getting out there and participating in the conversation.
But now, after several years of using the tools for business growth and development, brand awareness and thought leadership aren’t enough. It’s time to measure your efforts directly to business goals.
The Complete Measurement Guide
The very first thing you need to do is figure out why you’re using social media and how it integrates with the rest of your marketing and communications.
Everything you do should drive people – customers, prospects, critics, loyalists, employees, even competitors – to something you own. You won’t be an expert in each of the social tools. Rather, you’ll be an expert in communications via the social web that drive people to your website and/or blog.
- Determine your goals. What are you trying to achieve? Is it increased leads? Is it improved margins? Is it increased fundraising? Is it bigger sales per customer? Whatever it is, know what you want to accomplish very first thing.
- Monitor the web. Too many business leaders see the shiny new penny and think, “OK, now we have to figure out this new tool.” Not so. By using tools such as Google alerts, you can figure out where your customers and prospects already participate online. If they’re on Twitter, that’s where you’ll spend your time. If they’re writing blogs, you’ll comment on their blogs and create your own blog. But just because Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are the most popular social networks doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. Figure out where your audiences are online and build your efforts there.
- Align efforts to goals. This is so important, yet very few actually do it. Let’s say your goal is to drive more retail sales. You wouldn’t, then, create a 30 percent off coupon for Facebook fans to buy online. If your goal is to drive more retail sales, use tools that drive people into your store and create loyalty, such as Foursquare or Belly.
- Figure out your content needs. The very best way to get started creating content is to change your website. We like to tell clients to take the French out of their websites – the we, we, we – as a first step. Create content that is valuable, educational, and about them, not you. Then, as your content needs grow, look at your customers and employees to help tell stories.
- Don’t dismiss soft metrics. Brand awareness and credibility are still extremely important. But they shouldn’t be your only metrics. The soft metrics can lead to things such as paid speaking engagements, industry event appearances, and customer events that eventually lead to increased sales.
- Measure, measure, measure. It used to be you’d have to wait a full year to gain any metrics on whether or not your marketing and communications worked. Now you know instantly. Don’t measure the ego-driven metrics (increased traffic or stories about your company in print). Measure the types of things that get you to numbers one and three in this list.
- Improve and refine. As you measure your efforts, you’ll find places where you can improve. Do it. Don’t be afraid to switch gears a bit during the process. Improve, refine, and measure some more.
It won’t happen overnight. As you figure out how to align your efforts to your goals, there will be lots of refinement. In fact, the more refinement, the better you’re doing. So get to it!
A version of this first appeared on Inkling Media.
Because Google is no longer supporting Feedburner and some of you are not receiving your subscription (including me; somehow I don’t have any pull on my own blog), we have switched to Feedblitz.
It’s pretty inconvenient. I’m sorry about that. But it’ll be better in the long-run.