Should you evaluate social media the way you do employees?

The five questions you should ask of your staff as well as social media platforms.

If you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, blog, or some other social media presence, chances are you constantly give it flash evaluations: “How many retweets did I get today?” “How many views did that post get?”

Maybe you compare today’s performance against yesterday’s or last week’s. Maybe you give your brand’s social media presence an informal appraisal: “Lookin’ good” or “Needs some work.” If you’re really diligent, you might email employees with your findings. Then you move on with your day, secure in the knowledge that you did your part to monitor your company’s social media progress.

But do those constant mini evaluations do more harm than good? Do they prompt you to be reactionary instead of strategic? Do they make it harder to spot trends over time?

Ask yourself if you would be happy if your boss evaluated your job performance the way you evaluate your company’s blog. If your company’s human resource evaluation strategy looked like the social media evaluation strategy, what would the resulting company culture look like? Would the company make good decisions about who to promote and who to the fire? Would it be an effective, strategic organization, or would the whole thing fall apart?

Your blog, Facebook page and Twitter account are all members of your corporate team. They have personalities, strengths and weaknesses. They need guidance to thrive, and they deserve the same kind of evaluation your company gives all its employees.

Some caveats:

  • Evaluating a social media presence is not the same as evaluating the person who maintains it.

First, it’s important to be able to evaluate what works and what doesn’t without making anyone defensive. Second, chances are your social presence is the product of more than one mind, even if it doesn’t immediately seem that way. Third, your social media person already has a regular performance review, so there’s no need to put him in double jeopardy.

  • Evaluating social media performance isn’t the same as discussing its return on investment. The ROI conversation is more akin to your annual budget meeting where every department makes the case for the resources they’ll need for the coming year. These performance evaluations are done more frequently and are more about goals and expectations than dollars and cents.

How should you start the social media evaluation? Start by taking a look at your company’s employee evaluation form. The form probably has some variation on the following questions:

  1. What are three things the employee does well?
  2. What are three things the employee needs to improve?
  3. What are the employee’s goals for the coming period?
  4. What progress has the employee made on his goals from the previous period?
  5. How is the employee supporting the company’s mission statement?

These are not sexy questions, and they’re not easy to answer. But they will help you think strategically about the role social media plays in your organization and how you can make meaningful comparisons over time. They empower better decision-making.

Treat your social media presence like a member of the team, and you will start to see its performance improve.

How do you evaluate your company’s social media efforts?

Jesse Stanchak is editor at SmartBlog on Social Media, where a version of this article originally ran.

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