At RealSelf, we often talk of taking a three-step, Crawl-Walk-Run approach to engaging with online consumers through social media. As CEO Tom Seery explains,
Most doctors are at what can be called the Crawl stage, where they see the value of protecting their online reputation but aren’t ready to promote on the web. A growing number are at the Walk stage, where they’ve created a meaningful presence in social media by sharing their expertise in non-promotional ways. The most forward-thinking ones are at the Run stage, sharing their expertise, embracing patient reviews and encouraging the kind of two-way conversation that leads to social sharing, great word of mouth and more business.
Interestingly enough, the folks at Adobe and Econsultancy have taken a similar approach to measuring the ROI of social media. Akin to Crawl-Walk-Run, they represent a progression from easy, but less insightful calculations to more advanced ones that provide actionable business intelligence. They call it the 3 stages of measurement maturity and they look something like this:
1. The Crawl stage of social media measurement tallies the most easily counted figures — shares, fans, clickthrough rates, etc. — to gain a basic understanding of audience engagement. Some of these totals can be considered “vanity metrics” but they can also provide a sense of trends as your web presence develops.
2. Doctors in the Walk stage of social media management seek to monitor brand health (what others are saying about them) and improve customer experience. Encouraging online reviews can help spread positive word, uncover service issues that need to be fixed and boost search engine results in the process.
3. Ultimately, the goal of any business measurement system is its impact on the bottom line. Extending the above analogy, this is the Run stage, which requires an understanding of lead acquisition, conversion rates and other KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Unless you’re comfortable with advanced analytics, you may be more comfortable leaving this particular stage to your webmaster or vendor; even so, they should be able to show you the route they’re taking and why.