Lately, it seems everyone is advocating the use of social media for business intelligence and situational awareness in the B-to-B marketplace. The webinars and events I've attend recently surrounding ROI and measurement seem to focus on the numbers game and less on on the qualitative analysis and looking at the larger picture of how a specific tactic relates back to a larger strategic communication plan that should be focused on furthering a company's business development, reputation and revenue goals. If a PR program doesn't drive or further business - then what's the point?
So how then should we be measuring the larger impact of communication campaigns? Number of views is nice. Number of unique views is better. And number of qualified stakeholder views is key. Traffic does not equal sales or influence. It may equal greater share-of-voice (which looks nice on a chart or in a clip report) or even awareness, but not necessarily influence, thought leadership or let alone sales/revenue. So what should companies be asking of their agencies in terms of measurement? I think it depends upon the companies goals. If counting views makes a company's executive team sleep better at night because their latest product video has gone "viral," then by all means count it a success. But if the on-the-ground marketing team is talking to the same company's clients and they aren't aware or because of firewall restrictions in their offices can't see the 'must view' viral video from this company, it's not as effective as it could be. Content for content's sake is not effective. Making sure your content is seen and appreciated by the right audience is key. So a video going viral with millions of downloads may be a success in the awareness and visibility category - but not in the long term business development goals of your company.
I think one of the best ways for companies to gauge what is and is not tracking among their key stakeholders is to conduct focus group and mass audience recall surveys at least once a year (quarterly is better; monthly is ideal). This well help address key messaging gaps and provide insight on what types of content (not just advertising) is resonating among key audiences. What are your thoughts on how to shift the conversation from one of measuring individual communication tactics to measuring overall program success?