6 New Terms to Use When Measuring Social Marketing Efforts


Last week, I wrote  about the challenges we face in understanding how to value and measure social marketing. Here’s my attempt at introducing some fresher terms that better address and assess our social marketing efforts, as opposed to the terms we currently use, which come from Internet marketing, online advertising or online PR:

  1. Attractions. It’s not quantity but quality that matters in social media. Being able to attract a qualified, quality following is a real social marketing skill. It isn’t about spending huge amounts of money to grab people’s momentary attention. It’s about a slow and steady build of identifying and reaching the right people and then connecting with them for the long term. Did you just spend $250,000 on a funny series of videos and got 23,000 fans on your Facebook Page? Sucker. Most of those people will ignore you from here on out. They may have clicked “Like” during your campaign, but they really don’t care. Are you attracting the right people ,or are they just empty numbers?
  2. Participations. Your investment in developing content should be measurable. But what is the value of a comment, or a “like” on your status update? A retweet of your tweet? There can be an algorithmic calculation of the relative or exact reach of the participant, the number of posts from you, the number of overall fans or followers. But is it those numbers that matter here? Facebook Insights offers a “Post Quality” metric, a metric calculated on a rolling seven-day basis that uses the percentage of your fans that engage when you post content to your Page. But how else can you calculate participations? And more importantly, how are you appreciating the value of those who are participating with you in your social channels?
  3. Interactions. Do you know how to leverage an online community? Once you get a community going, it seems to take on a life of its own. But good community moderation and management means that you can artfully leverage the interactions and turn them into actions. There is value in those interactions, not just between your customers or potential customers and you, but also those between the customers and potential customers themselves. How are you identifying and measuring these interactions? Have you calculated how much time and money you are saving in the long run because of the more direct and intimate customer service interactions you can have in social channels?
  4. Actions. There is a vast difference between impressions and actions. Impressions are nebulous because you really have no idea if someone actually saw your ad. Actions are measurable. Social marketing can drive actions, although it often takes some time and a few steps in between. Don’t be turned off by the time it may take to get to the action. There is a great deal of value in the steps between.
  5. Transformations. In marketing, a conversion occurs when a prospective customer  takes the marketer’s intended action (usually when the customer moves from browsing to buying). But in social marketing, there is another kind of conversion that I’m calling the “transformation.” An example of transformation in social marketing: Picture the disgruntled client who vocalizes his or her frustration or displeasure publicly on Twitter or Facebook, a blog, or any other platform that they can access because of the advent of social media tools. Your company has been listening to the chatter in social channels, and a representative from your company addresses their concerns immediately. That person realizes that you are not only listening but that you care and will work to find a solution to their issue. They transform from angry customer to champion of your company’s brand. There is an incredible value in the transformed customer.
  6. Transactions. The transaction is the closing interaction, the goal. Keep in mind that you want these transactions to happen more than one time in many cases. And this does not always refer to a monetary transaction i.e. a sale — that’s easy to measure. A transaction could be signing up for something; filling out a survey; referring a friend; sharing information. What are you trying to get people to do? When they do that, a transaction has occurred. How valuable is that to you? And what are you giving your customers in the transaction? A quality product or service? A discount? Additional perks of some kind? How are you communicating to your customers (or friends, fans and followers) that they are more than a sale? How are you showing them that they are a part of a valuable relationship that you are willing to maintain?

None of the above is perfect, and at the moment, I have no concrete definitions to attache to these terms, but we have to start somewhere. I’m eager to hear what you think about these ideas because we’re all can be a part of the process of defining the set of terms we’ll all be using for the next several years to explain what we’re doing, and why.

What terms do you think we should use when measuring social marketing?

Photo by stock.xchng user lusi

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Social Media in the Enterprise


Jen Banks Abreu

Great post, such an interesting way to frame the discussion about why we use social media and what we can get out of it as an organization– in a concrete way! Thanks for sharing.


Aliza thanks for a great post, this is definitely a good start. One idea that I have been thinking about, adding to what you wrote is to try to find the “influencers” in your community. Who are the people spreading the word? Who are the ones influencing other folks to trigger a transformation or transaction in your words?


Transactions, by far, can be considered the best measure of the success of marketing through social networks. If it were possible to send out one message every second of every day, then imagine the kind of responses you would get? You still need to pre-qualify your contacts and lead them up to the close…even then I don’t call it a sale when it’s paid…sometimes people return what they buy (whether we like it or not), and that’s business.

I enjoyed the article very much, it does offer a lot of points to ponder and tells us to be more focused and exacting in our marketing strategies. :)

Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google and Twitter)

Roger Hilleboe

4 ACTION has been used in Direct Response Marketing for decades, as-in, the “Customers Call To Action.” Consumer action in response to a traditional ink-on-paper, an email, or internet ad trumps the other five, terms you list by a ratio of at least ten to one. Transactions follow.

Rob Longert

This is an excellent post, Aliza and makes a lot of sense. We also talk a lot about “spreadability,” which seems to be the overarching message here.

Thanks for sharing.

Sam Ford

Absolutely, Aliza. We sometimes use the image of peanut butter when we talk about spreadability…But we’ve been working on an argument using the term “spreadable media” for the last couple of years at the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium, a research project for which I was formerly project manager. In short, we believe that exclusively relying on quantitative “stickiness” as a metric of success and buying into the terminology of “viral marketing” brings with all sorts of potentially dangerous connotations for marketers. If you’d be interested in reading more on the concept, see the following:



Tim Bursch

Great thoughts here. I especially like #5. Organizations now have the opportunity to publicly show transformations. You can see in a conversation thread an unhappy customer change into a raving fan.

I do think it will take time though for business to adapt these new metrics for good performance. Many still want clicks and quantity.

Aliza Sherman

I totally marvel at the unhappy customer to raving fan transformations that I’ve witnessed first hand. Every brand truly engaged and committed to social-powered marketing has their share of examples of that very thing. Agreed about it taking time.

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