Social Media Made Measurable and Accountable.
By Scott Hornstein
Tuesday, 4th September 2012
The true power of social media is untapped, the surface is barely scratched; why?  Because we're missing the point – social media, like every other medium, has got to sing for its supper.  If it's not making us money, why are we doing it?

We have been treating social media as an anomaly, somehow apart from basic business – we invest without measurability or accountability to corporate goals, which arguably include brand, sales, satisfaction and continuous improvement.

Social media pioneers have opened the door and set the stage.  That was phase 1.  Now it's time to get serious, to fish or cut bait.

Phase 2 has to be the start of measurability and accountability, where social media is aligned with corporate goals and can prove its contribution.  This must be readily achievable, without more investment, and with the tools we have today – a few small steps will put us in motion. Some of these may already be in place.  Let's look at the suggested metrics by corporate goal.


Brand Ambassador.  Many companies actively seek out and groom brand ambassadors, which is defined as customers who identify with the brand  They may include mention of the brand in their profile.  They may even alert the brand to negative discussions on other platforms. 

Referrals.  Brand Ambassadors are good, but referrals are better. We know from lead generation experience that referrals are the best source of new customers, and the second-best source for new sales (the best source is, of course, existing customers).


Response.  Marketing's job is to get customers and prospects meaningfully engaged with the brand and on the road to sales.  Let's make an offer of value.  But no discounts please, unless you're after commoditization.

Recommendation.  The magic of social media is the conversations it enables.  And while we're being sociable, the conversation may turn to the product or service we offer.  In some of those cases, a recommendation may be appropriate (e.g., as someone who really loves our vanilla ice cream, you should really try our vanilla with macadamia nuts). 


Service.  Did we uncover an issue that can be corrected?  Something isn't working and we can make it work?  This is huge.  We should report not just the incidence, but the subject and whether the issue was solved, or not.

Dissatisfaction.  Did we uncover an issue that cannot be easily corrected?  This is the power of social – we may not have otherwise known.  Happy customers stick around, but unhappy customers tell everybody.   Again, we should report not just the incidence, but the subject and whether the issue was solved, or not.

Continuous Improvement

Certainly, measurement will enable us to improve social media implementations, but social can add to overall efforts with first-hand customer information. 

Ask a question. Probably not something like "how much money is in your pocket", but on qualitative issues where the voice of the customer may provide some illumination (e.g., what other products or services would you like us to offer you?).

Synthesize what customers are talking about.  Is it related to corporate goals?  What other subjects?

Provide management with an early alert.  Do you see rapidly trending problems or issues?  Is there widespread concern?  Is the sky falling?  If you see something, say something.

All of which leads us to Phase 3, which is where the fun starts.  That's when we're able to tie all media together with our CRM system and get a real-time view of the individual customer.  That's when we begin to be really effective in influencing brand, sales, satisfaction and continuous improvement.  More on that one later.

For right now, this minute, it is urgent we move social media to measurability and accountability.  For sure, management is going to look you in the eye and say "Why are we doing this?".

A really good answer would be helpful.  

Scott Hornstein is an author, lecturer and consultant, with over 30 years experience in all phases of marketing, research and implementation. He is president of the consultancy Hornstein Associates. His latest book, Opt-In Marketing:  Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing, was just published by McGraw-Hill.  Scott can be reached at scott@hornsteinassociates.com or 203.938.8715.

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