What You Should Be Tallying On Your Social Media Scorecard

Ah, the simplicity of American baseball: three strikes is an out, and a team’s chance at the bat is comprised of three outs. In cricket, the math is a bit more extensive: an inning is considered complete once ten batters have been struck out, and matches can last several days. It’s no wonder that as far […]

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Ah, the simplicity of American baseball: three strikes is an out, and a team’s chance at the bat is comprised of three outs. In cricket, the math is a bit more extensive: an inning is considered complete once ten batters have been struck out, and matches can last several days. It’s no wonder that as far back as the time of the American Revolution, enterprising printers back in England were producing scorecards so that spectators could keep track of the games.

The idea of businesses using scorecards can be traced to the 1950s in postwar France, with what were called Tableau de Bord. With this tool, managers were asked to map out a business unit’s mission/vision, the objectives that could be said to lead to the fulfillment of the mission, Key Success Factors (KSF), and Key Performance Indicators (KPI).


In the early 90s, a couple of Harvard professors, Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, proposed the idea of a “Balanced Scorecard.”

Norton and Kaplan felt that too many business measures were focused on financial metrics, which they considered lagging indicators. In addition to the financial metrics, they proposed that a business should be vigilant with other key metrics such as employee learning and customer satisfaction.

By keeping an eye on this more holistic picture, business leaders would make better strategic choices.

Social Media Measures

In the realm of social media metrics, the what and how’s of measurement are hotly contested. There are those who believe there should be a focus on transactions, while others argue for a larger value mapping. Likes, follows, and pluses, by themselves, might be rightly referred to as vanity metrics. When it comes to more substantive measures, there may not be enough data to discover where correlation really does represent causation.

Organizations like Dell have done a remarkable job in creating attribution models that can show with high probability the contribution of social media to their sales. In these models, for instance, it can be demonstrated that a customer that is a Facebook follower is much more apt to spend more with the brand. While that may lead to a correlation/causation argument, it might be considered a good beginning.

In a recent conversation with Brian Melinat, Manager of Social Media Analytics and Listening at Dell, I learned more about that organization’s use of a social media scorecard. According to Melinat, the Dell scorecard has three main sections:

  • Footprint: The quantity and quality of connections and content posts
  • Engagement: Traditional social media engagement metrics
  • Impact: How social media is driving revenue and other traditional business KPIs

The impact section is most closely aligned to traditional marketing metrics, and in particular, where transactions can be linked to social media. While the social media team is glad that they can provide those traditional metrics, they still try to bring focus to the bigger picture of social value. Melinat explains:

Social’s not just another Marcom channel which we want to milk for traditional metrics; there’s a community that needs to be nurtured. Dell believes a social business creates more value for customers, partners and the organization. In order to realize the full potential of a social business, you do need to look at these core engagement metrics and the health of the community and foster that in the real sense, versus just looking at the dollar figure. 

ROI Of Social Media

Some people say you shouldn’t worry about the Return on Investment (ROI) of social media, and plenty of others say that if you can’t tie your activities back to making dollars, the endeavor is folly.

Whichever camp you fall in, as a marketer you will be called upon to make some difficult choices: should I spend a dollar on this or on that?

Melinat shares his own ideas:

As much as a lot of people will ask for and want the ROI right out of the gate, you need to mature to that point. Dell has focused on building a social business foundation for over 8 years that generates actionable insights and allows us to directly listen to and communicate with our customers better than ever. The amounts you’re going to see for those hard dollar figures are less than the real value you’re getting. You need to establish some metrics and recognition that there’s core stuff going on in social before you turn all your attention to trying to dollarize everything.

Creating Your Own Social Media Scorecard

To create a scorecard for your own organization, it’s a good idea to actually look back to those core tenets of the Tableau de Bord: identify your organization’s bigger purpose and vision, and map out the ways that your goals can be fulfilled through social media.

Melinat recommends two additional steps: assess your social media properties and current initiatives, and understand who needs the information and for what purpose.


A dashboard was originally an actual board at the front of a horse-drawn carriage that protected the driver from the mud thrown, or dashed-up by the horses’ hooves. When it was carried over into automobiles, the board was given some padding and punctuated with gauges.

For marketing professionals and executives, the idea of a dashboard means that the critical information will be available in a quickly readable way.  If we consider how the word entered our language, it’s very possible that it might once again prevent a little mud from hitting your face.

Stock image used with permission from Shutterstock.com

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Ric Dragon
Ric Dragon is the author of the DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012) and the ceo/co-founder of DragonSearch. He is a regular speaker for Google at their Get Your Business Online seminars. Dragon frequently speaks about the convergence of social media, process, information architecture, and sociology.

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