What can social media analytics do for #highered?

May 10th, 2011 Karine Joly 2 Comments

Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of social media initiatives isn’t easy – definitely far more difficult than using Facebook, Twitter and the likes.

However, while 68% of the respondents to the second CASE survey on social media practices in higher education think measuring the ROI of their social media initiatives is tough, it’s not impossible.

It’s not even THAT difficult.

You just need to learn how to use social media analytics – and then get with the program :-)

Stephane HamelStephane Hamel, a Certified Web Analyst and a recognized expert, teaches the art and science of online analytics at the University of British Columbia and the University of Laval. As one of the rare university instructors in this specific area in North America, he has a very different perspective on social media ROI than most in higher education.

That’s why I asked him to teach a master class on social media analytics in higher education for Higher Ed Experts. I was curious to hear Stephane’s take on some of the questions that were raised after the 2011 CASE survey results were released last month. I think you’ll find his answers interesting.

1) Many in higher education think it’s impossible – or very difficult – to measure social media outcomes and ROI. Is it?

Yes, indeed, it’s not easy. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it! Measuring outcomes starts by defining our goals – are we into social media to boost our ego and get the most Twitter followers and Facebook likes or are we into it to rally new students, create a sense of community or simply better serve them by communicating where they are?
I like to think of social media strategies in four quadrants ranging from negative/positive sentiment on one end, and level of activity on the other. Should we engage (positive/high activity), observe (positive/low activity), watch & respond (negative/low activity) or enter into a dialog (negative/high activity)? This, in turn, will drive what we should measure.

2) Some institutions rely on Klout scores or other vanity metrics to measure their social media activities, what do you think about this practice?

Klout (or other tools) are a starting point but they measure the microcosm of social media. They certainly don’t measure the real business outcomes such as enrolling new students and making sure they are satisfied – just like any other business in fact!

3) Can you share one thing institutions can do to better measure the results of their social media activities?

Very simple: define your social media objectives – do they align with your core strategies and values? It’s amazing the number of organizations jumping on the social media band wagon because they’ve been told they need to be there, but have absolutely no clue as to why, exactly, they are doing it. It is fine to experiment and make the jump, but it’s much better to define clear objectives. And no, having thousands of followers or doing it only for “brand awareness” aren’t good objectives in themselves… Social media marketing needs to lead to something else!

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