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How To Create Visionary Measurement For Social Media

We often use the word “visionary” to describe leaders or companies, but rarely in connection to metrics. If the typical communications strategy is dispersed via Powerpoint within a large organization, usually measurement is the last slide before the end.

We need to transform our relationship to measurement.

The problem is, marketing people are typically guilty of seeing measurement as a necessary evil. It is something to suffer through, and never fully understand. Despite the pioneering work of many analytics gurus – the answers still seem hard. And most marketing managers are afraid of getting caught in the headlights from the oncoming truck of skeptical management.

Nowhere is the fear of metrics more pronounced than when it comes to social media.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Changing it, though, requires a new understanding of why and how we can measure. That’s the simple idea behind this post – and a keynote talk I delivered earlier today at the Ragan PR Measurement Summit called “The Art of Visionary Measurement.

Visionary Measurement is a new strategic model for measuring social media that will help you prove real business value by combining data with storytelling. It is not a new platform or a spreadsheet template. It isn’t based on a new technology. Instead, it is a new methodology for thinking about your metrics in terms of business value instead of solely on measuring effectiveness in selling something or influencing someone.


True business value goes beyond sales. It is a way to describe the impact of what you do based on four distinct elements – Sales, Efficiency, Innovation and Retention.

  1. Sales – Increase sales or customer loyalty.
  2. Efficiency – Create efficiency or save money.
  3. Innovation – Inspire innovation or motivate team.
  4. Retention – Drive employee retention or hiring.

These four elements describe nearly every possible type of value you might get from a social media program – but the real trick is that you need to be disciplined about selecting ONE of these to focus on. It is nearly impossible to accomplish every one of these with a single initiative.

The most common metrics mistake is measuring against the wrong objective.

When it comes to describing the business value, it also helps to think about measurement with the same audience lens that you might use for building a communications program. Every audience would not receive the exact same messages from your marketing – so why should measurement be any different?


Consider describing the metrics that you are collecting in terms of two things – actionability and shareability. The metrics that give you an excellent insight into what is really happening to allow you to make your efforts more effective fall into the actionable category. The surface metrics – often derided as “vanity metrics” – such as number of Twitter followers or Klout score are useful as soundbites to share in higher level conversations … the quick update for the elevator ride with the CEO, for example.

The matrix describes four of these quadrants. The important thing to remember as you review them is that each one has a place and time where it may be useful. Ultimately, what the matrix illustrates is that measuring effectiveness is only the beginning of the potential uses for smarter strategic measurement.

Want To Put Visionary Measurement To Work For Your Brand?

One thing I announced at the conference today (and that you can download a 1 page brochure about right now) is a new customized workshop designed to help brands of all sizes streamline and optimize their metrics programs with this visionary measurement approach. A few of the topics I have covered in this workshop are:

  • How to avoid the 5 Common Social Media Measurement Mistakes
  • How to map the 4 Quadrants of Social Business Value and measure real results
  • Learn the Blueprint For Selling Social Media programs to management
  • 5 insider techniques on working with (and measuring) your marketing agencies

If the model seems interesting to you – or you have any suggestions or thoughts about what else you would change about how and why we measure, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment here, email me at rohit [at] workwithimg [dot] com, or use my official (but not too formal) contact form to get in touch.


15 thoughts on “How To Create Visionary Measurement For Social Media”

  1. Forgive me if this is not the right post to ask this question.

    Nate Silver nailed it on the Presidential Elections. Not the same success on the Oscars.
    Could you please enlighten me as to the possible reasons.

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Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

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