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Interesting post by Jim Sterne over at NetImperative on measuring social media.

In a nutshell, Jim proposes 5 practical ways to measure social media…

  1. Reach (Theoretical – audience linked to you)
  2. Reach (Real – audience reading your content)
  3. Impact (Pass-on – people talking about your content)
  4. Impact (Sentiment – people liking/disliking you/your content)
  5. Impact (Key Actions – ultimately buying what you sell (products or ideas))

It’s an interesting way to carve up the social media measurement cake,  although I’d perhaps want to simplify things down to two questions; how many people did we reach and what impact did it have?

And from a social commerce perspective, only one of these questions is really important, that of impact;  specifically the impact of social media on moving people through purchase decision process.

-> Awareness -> Consideration -> Preference -> Purchase -> Loyalty -> Advocacy

Of course, measuring impact is more tricky than measuring reach;  pre-purchase impact requires lab-style A/B pre-testing, and purchase/post-purchase impact requires sophisticated site analytics linking onsite social media or traffic coming directly from social media content to purchase behavior.  But these are the kind of hard ROI metrics we need, instead of the numbers of people tweeting whatever to whoever.  Who cares?

If you can’t measure the impact, don’t measure it.

As Jim intimates, ultimately, it’s all about money, the rest is just conversation; the only question we need to answer is how much stock does social media shift.