One of the things I noticed when moving from the public sector to the private sector was the importance of metrics. Somehow in the public sector there was no interest in keeping track of numbers, probably because of the way the vote accounting worked. As long as you justified (i.e. spent) the money you had predicted you would in your budget, nobody asked any questions and you got voted the same amount or more in the following year.
In the private sector I found much greater emphasis on the use metrics to identify not only where money but time was going. I quickly learned that particularly with regard to marketing, that tracking the efficacy of every advert against leads and sales was key to determining future spend. A simple example, I was working for an IT retailer who put an advert in a newspaper with a phone number and a name, Melissa. Well there was no Melissa working at the company but we were instructed to note any calls asking for Melissa to be noted in our CRM system - a really simple trick but one that brought a concrete number of leads and sales attributable to one advert.
These days social media is the theatre of war for marketers but it is so hard to track what you are up to online. How to get a handle on whether your marketing efforts are winning or loosing is really difficult. Tools are now coming on-stream to help track what you are doing and I think that in time, these will become much more sophisticated. Three such tools are Kred Influence Measurement, PeerIndex and Klout.
I'll focus on Klout for the rest of this post as it seems to have the best reach. Klout enables you to connect it to your social media accounts, currently covering Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Instagram. From then on it tracks the posts on these accounts and monitors your social engagement - not only how many posts you've made on these services but how many times people have engaged with you. It reports this back in terms of a single figure Klout score, between 1 (low) to 100 (high). This is significant because it is a single metric by which you can monitor your efforts in social media. After a few weeks I've already found it incredibly useful to have this benchmark figure, as every day I know how much I have to post to advance it and I know that if I don't post (and post effectively) that the score will fall.
Klout has other information too, a recency chart showing where the most recent engagement took place and with whom, and a score activity report. This reveals with whom your most 'profitable' engagements were, i.e. who shared your stuff the most - a pretty important source of information when you are trying to maximise online exposure.
Another useful feature is that you can identify the Klout scores of people you are connected with. This means you can take on people in the spirit of competition which always fuels success, but you can also identify people whose social credibility is greater than yours, and once identified, investigate the reasons for their success and make changes to improve your own performance.
At this point the analytics in Klout are very basical and there is no way to track campaigns or have multiple accounts from the same provider but these features will surely come.
It's early days for social media analytics tools but already I'm beginning to wonder how I ever managed without them.
[Originally publsihed 7 October 2013]