It wasn’t that long ago I blogged about ‘locker-room metrics‘. This topic pops up all of the time. Whether its in meetings with peers, conversations with colleagues  or even in industry articles. People are genuinely struggling with what to measure and how to measure it. I get that. It’s incredibly straightforward to visit your Facebook page and track the number of Likes you’ve grown over time. Or Twitter followers. Or Instagram followers. Or…whatever. But what does that really tell you? What is the point of that number and it’s delta?

Many marketers point to this number because it’s what their executives are looking at. They perhaps, in their heart of hearts, know that this is not the correct data point and that it shouldn’t be seen as a KPI. But their senior exec’s keep pointing at it so they’re left feeling helpless. I recognize the struggle in their voices and on their faces. It’s one of defeat and frustration.

So. How do we get around this then? How do we educate up and change the perception of what is valued by our executives?

Focus on cross functional strategy development.

No comprehensive business strategy is built in a vacuum  Because social cuts across so many functional areas of a business you cannot built out a strategic plan without getting those business partners in a room with you. Get everyone in a room, bring in a facilitator if you can. Workshop it out. Get it on paper and build out your tactical plans against it. This helps to ensure buy-in and collaborative business-wide thinking. Not to mention shared ownership. Defining your goals has to be a part of this – otherwise how will you know you’re successful? Exactly. It’s hard to imagine a scenario when a strategy developed in this type of situation will have an assigned metric of increased likes.

Socialize (up, down and across) operating plans.

Make sure the right people know what you’re doing and do so consistently. Not only will regular updates help to keep everyone aware of what you’re doing, it will give you additional points in time to showcase successes and progress building trust and credibility. Ultimately this will help you drive the measurement focus to the appropriate data points.

Continued education.

You’re dealing with some smart people. They’ve also got a lot going on. You will need to work on your presentation and approach to ensure you’re hitting the right buttons. And this may take more than once. Perceptions don’t change over night. (Note: this one’s more about you. Consider it a “dont give up slugger” speech. It really does take time!)

Think Bigger.

If your focus is purely social it’s time to think bigger. Challenge yourself to find ways your function can amplify and boost other channel efforts. If you’ve already done the collaborative strategy development you’re probably already doing this. If it isn’t possible for you to get everyone in a room like that, then sit them down one on one. “How can I help you?” is a great place to start. “How can we work together?” is probably the better place to start.

And for goodness sakes, stop pimping your page for Likes – Don’t treat it as a focus if it isn’t one. This will only serve to confuse, well, everyone, as to what your true purpose is. And please be honest with yourself here. Survey’s show that over 30% of you are still doing this :)