For the better part of the twentieth century, marketers and their researchers confidently proclaimed: “You can't manage what you don't measure.”1 Today's social media marketers rarely sing that tune, however, and for good reason. Despite adopting an ever-expanding array of social tools and techniques, many brands still do not know what it is they are supposed to measure, nor quite what to expect from the outcomes.
After questioning more than 2,700 social media practitioners in 2012, public relations publisher Lawrence Ragan Communications and the NASDAQ OMX Group found that nearly 70 percent of respondents are either dissatisfied or only “somewhat satisfied” with how they track social media initiatives. Barely 5 percent are “very satisfied.”2 The measurement techniques of those surveyed—from small, medium, and major firms, along with government agencies and nonprofit organizations—are all over the map. Significant majorities monitor web traffic and social interactions such as followers, fans, and likes. Somewhat fewer gauge their brands' reputations, and fewer still keep account of new leads. Only about 30 percent measure sales.