Ironically, I got so inspired, I wrote an additional chapter which then made this chapter 37 and not 36.

Excerpt from my book Strategistics. Download ebook today by clicking here.

Who you are will determine what you measure. Did I say measure? I feel in light of all that we have discussed that it is important to spend a brief few moments discussing measurements. One of the best lessons I learned when running several retail businesses was the time I was asked to write an article on conversion rate.

After doing much research on our own conversion rate, I wrote my article on how to effectively look at conversion rate without getting overwhelmed. This article was stocked full of data supporting my theories.

(Click here to see the foundation of that article.)

A good friend and colleague of mine read the article and loved it. But then he looked at me, and challenged me to rewrite it. “But I thought you loved it?” I quickly asked with a confused tone in my voice. “This time, I want you to write this article without using numbers.” He replied. That was moment I got it. I understood the power of the parable. I understood that while some speak the language of numbers, others speak the language of parables. It was a difficult rewrite to accomplish, but in the end, it was a lesson I would never  forget when seeking to communicate objectives to people who are on the same team, but speak different languages. (Speaking left brained language to a right brained audience.)

Seeking measurement for one’s efforts is critical. However, what I find is that though many understand it to be critical, they sadly don’t understand how to translate the measurements or even the first place to look for the measurements. What are your objectives for your message? How will you measure your effectiveness? Will you measure it via any of these?

  • Viral transactions from engagement with your community
  • Overall size and growth of community
  • Reach of influence
  • Financial transactions via donation, purchase, or gifts in kind?

Of course, who you are will determine what you measure.

Are you a…?

  • Movement
  • Merchandise
  • Cause

For many , nowadays I see a combination of either all or two of these. In this case, let’s take a non-profit for example. As a non-profit with a cause to champion, in the end, don’t we truly want to see our cause go beyond something we call others to, and become a movement that others must now be a part of? How do we measure that?

Of course, we need eyeballs to see the message, be inspired by the message, engage the message, and share the message. But, if there is work to do, we also need to support the message and the work that we are providing that will bring solutions to that which we are seeking to solve. I recently spent some time with a large non-profit organization that works within the United States as well as internationally. In speaking with them, what I heard was this: We understand the effectiveness of social media How do we translate it effectively in bottom line numbers?

Reading between the lines, bottom line was code for how much it brought in  financially for the cause. To be honest, it is a fair question and nothing to be intimidated by. If we plan to spend additional resources on new media efforts, we need to ask the question, is it worth it? Again, who you are will determine what you measure. In this case, we can share all the data we want, but what does it all mean and is it moving the ball forward with regards to our overall objectives?

Continuing the discussion with this non-profit, we began to review the data we had available to us. In this case, we looked closely at our Google analytics for the official website not only for current data, but all data as far back as it showed as well.

We also looked at industry benchmarks to how other non-profits were using social media for their cause. I believe industry benchmarks are crucial as to best give one something to line up against. Do you know your industry benchmarks for the medium you are seeking to use? Often times, a simple Google search will lead you to various surveys that have been completed within one’s industry. Secondly, in reviewing analytics for their own website, I was eager to look at the last three years of data.

I do this because I wanted to establish benchmarks for their effectiveness. When running businesses, we would always look at the past three years when preparing our annual budget as to best establish benchmarks. This allowed us to best set our course to attainable goals based on historical data and not from mid air. This paid off two years after taking over a company once that previously had lost over $ 1,000,000 dollars in one year. Through effective benchmarking and goal setting, we were able to reverse that loss to over a $ 100,000 profit.

In looking closely at the data for this non-profit organization , we were able to establish our own benchmarks. This allowed us to set reasonable goals as well as be able to navigate ourselves towards reaching those goals.

What we found:

  •  1.07% of website visitors actually made a donation
  • The average website visitor donation was $ 200 annually
  • Social Media drove 12,000 unique visitors to the website in the previous year (that was all that was available.)

Based on those numbers and simple benchmarking, we can determine the following:

  • 1.07% of 12,000 unique visitors via social media is 128.4 people
  • If the average online donor gave $ 200 per year, that would equal $ 25,680 revenue from 128.4 people

Are you following me? What do your numbers look like?

Do you  know where to find your numbers? In knowing these benchmarks, I can then set some goals accordingly. I do this by playing “what if?” in a reasonable manner. If social media can improve its conversion rate for driving unique visitors to the website through strategically planned campaigns designed to lead people from ignorance to who we are, to ownership of what we are, then:

  • + 5,000 unique visitors times 1.07% times $ 200 that equals $ 10,700
  • + 10,000 unique visitors times 1.07% times $ 200 that equals $ 21,400
  • What if we maintained 12k visitors but improved conversion of donors to 2% at $ 200 per donor?
  • That equals $ 48,000 by converting only 112 more people per year.

At this point, it becomes all about architecting your infrastructure to reach these goals. How many campaigns are you running per year? Are they strategically designed and timed to help you meet your objectives? How will you know? What keeps you from knowing? To often we shoot from the hip until someone comes along with questions that cause you to both scramble and do a lot of Google searches . How can you adjust your overall strategy to help achieve your overall goals? Certainly, as we have discussed in this book, we know where we want to take people. But how will we know when we have arrived? Does one ever arrive? Have we established metrics along the path of our execution that will guide us on our way and help navigate us to that place we had sought from the beginning? How do others measure their effectiveness of use within the social media realm?

(* according to the non-profit technology network)

  • Site visitors
  • Reach
  • Audience feedback
  • Registered members
  • Conversions
  • User generated content
  • Revenue (fundraising)

Remember, who you are will determine what you measure. This is all encompassing.

  • Who you are
  • What are you seeking to solve
  • The cost of providing this solution
  • The cost of raising awareness around this solution

As I have said often times within the business world, if you don’t know your business, you will have no business. To properly set metrics for your message, cause, brand, or organization, one must know their “business.” This enables you to effectively set achievable goals that will lead to sustaining your “business” and therefore make life that much better for those you are seeking to provide solutions for. Let me say it again, measurement through the lens of who you are will determine what you measure.

I believe it is important to take this dialogue a step further. Often times within the world of social media, managers are asked to justify budgetary line items that pay for social media management and advertisements. These justifications are made to those who have a bottom-line view of profit and loss. As you have seen here, there are basic ways one can draw direct correlations from social media activity to the bottom-line through the lens of dollars and cents. In having these types of discussions, often a breakdown will happen when the person  overseeing social media and communication is unable to speak this business language because they lack experience .

This is not a knock on them, but rather an opportunity. They get to learn the language of their superior who speaks only in this way because of their years of business world experience. After overseeing several retail companies for a man who earned seven Master degrees, one thing was for certain, I had better learn the language of the profit and loss statement if I ever wanted to see more resources. Though the P& L statement was built based on line items for things like payroll, building lease, cost of product , etc., there were many components of the businesses not seen. These directly impacted the bottom-line and overall health of the companies I oversaw in a major way.

What were these components?

  • Customer Service
  • Overall aesthetics of the store
  • Cleanliness of the restrooms
  • Accessibility of the store to our customers

The list goes on and yes, I did say restrooms. I live in Oregon. In Oregon, one of the most visited tourists spots in the state is the Woodburn Outlet Mall. I once sat in on a marketing presentation there when they disclosed that in all of their surveys about the mall , the number one thing people commented on was the restrooms. And yes… they are immaculate restrooms at that. As this example shows, in the world of brick and mortar business there are so many unseen components not present on a profit and loss statement that definitely impact profit and loss.

So what are the unseen components on your analytics when seeking to translate data to dollars for your organization? I found this great list from Social ROE:

  • Efficiency
  • Reputation
  • Differentiation
  • Risk Reduction
  • Client Retention
  • Brand Association
  • Long Term Revenue
  • Environmental Impact
  • Economic Development
  • Opportunity Creation
  • Immediate Revenue
  • Perception Shifting
  • PR and Exposure
  • Client Education
  • Network Growth
  • Building Trust
  • Innovation

This certainly isn’t one size fits all, but I am certain one could pick out several items from this list and show a worthy investment was being made. The point here is that even though who you are will determine what you measure, that is often times only half the equation. The other half is convincing board members, investors, and the like that there is a return on investment with this new form of media. You may not see it directly in the numbers, but you certainly see its effects on the numbers. Reminds me of a quote Billy Graham once said. “I see the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind.”

Post Application

1) What are your objectives for your message?

2) How will you measure your effectiveness?

3) Will you measure it via any of these?

  • Viral transactions from engagement with your community
  • Overall size and growth of community
  • Reach of influence
  • Financial transactions via donation, purchase, or gifts in kind?