Social Media Success Metrics. Or…at Least Objectives.

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Jeremiah Owyang has a post on his Web Strategist blog titled Why Your Social Media Plan should have Success Metrics. Based on the URL of the post, it looks like Owyang initially titled the entry “Why Your Social Media Plan should Indicate What Does Success Look Like.” Admittedly, the original title is a bit clunky. But, in the cleanup, he actually oversimplified the main point of his post, which is that it’s important to have some clear idea of why you’re tackling social media and some idea what you’re hoping to get out of it. He includes some examples:

A few examples of what success could look like for you:

  • We were able to learn something about customers we’ve never know before
  • We were able to tell our story to customers and they shared it with others
  • A blogging program where there are more customers talking back in comments than posts
  • An online community where customers are self-supporting each other and costs are reduced
  • We learn a lot from this experimental program, and pave the way for future projects, that could still be a success metric
  • We gain experience with a new way of two-way communication
  • We connect with a handful of customers like never before as they talk back and we listen
  • We learned something from customers that we didn’t know before

One of the commenters correctly pointed out that none of these examples were “metrics” per se. I say, “Cool!” Owyang’s point is spot on — be clear on why you’re tackling social media. And, you know what? If it’s, “Because I don’t understand it and don’t ‘get’ it and figure the best way to learn is to dive in and do it,” then that’s okay! Of course, if that is the only reason you are dipping your phallanges into social media, then you should also set a target date for when you’re going to evaluate whether you are going to continue — with more focussed objectives — or whether you are going to reduce your focus on it.

The metrics will come. Sometime, they’re not crisp, clean, perfect metrics. That’s okay. I’m a fan of proxy measures, as well as the occasional use of subjective measures. Quantitative measures that aren’t tied to clear objectives, on the other hand, drive me bonkers.

So, what are my objectives with this part of my personal social media experimenting? Very simply, they’re as follows:

  • See if I can “do” it — post with some level of substance on a sustained basis
  • Give myself an outlet for expressing my opinions and frustrations about data usage (when it’s not appropriate to express them directly to the person who triggered the need for an outlet)
  • Learn about blogging technologies

The jury is still a bit out on the first objective, but it’s looking like the answer is, “I can.”

I am clearly hitting the second objective (and will continue to do so).

I’ve become intimate with both Blogger and WordPress, as well as dabbled with Technorati, Feedburner, Yahoo! Pipes, and any number of social networking and social bookmarking platforms, so I’d say I’m well on my way to the third.

I’m not feeling the need to reset my objectives just yet.

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