The top ten is never enough—Dell demonstrates the need for customized social media metrics linked to business strategy

CRS    March 3, 2015

Organisation name: Dell


Industry: Information Technology

About social media metrics:
A quick google search for “social media metrics” brings up any number of articles. The majority of these articles recommend similar metrics which include: leads, engagement duration, bounce rate, reach or size of network and increase in membership, active ratio (active members to all members), conversions to sales, membership, subscriber, brand mentions, loyalty (rate and frequency of user interaction and sharing of info), virality and social media leads, and blog interaction.

Yet, not all of these metrics help company representatives learn about who is purchasing their goods or services. In an interview conducted by Lee Oden on Top Rank® Blog, Tac Anderson is quoted as saying “…start with what your company is already measuring. Then look at Return on Total Investment.” Furthermore, Anderson goes on to say, “You won’t know what works for your company until you try it.” In essence, it is better to experiment with metrics to see what works, but make sure they are tied to business outcome.

How Dell uses social media metrics linked to business strategy

Richard Binhammer presented at The Canadian Institute 4th Annual Conference in 2010 on Social Media, Metrics and Measurement used at Dell. A key point made  in the presentation was that Dell “looks more at metrics in relation to what you are trying to achieve versus social media tools.” With social media used at all points throughout the business, metrics and the social media tool used varies according to what each part of the business is trying to achieve.


During the presentation, Binhammer explains how social media is integrated into all aspects of Dell business, and depending upon the business goals of each business unit, metrics and ROI differ (slide #31). For example, slide #19 shows how twitter is used differently by various business units. In slide #21, Binhammer shows how metrics differ based upon the social media channel selected. In summary, Dell found that business metrics can be applied to social media (slide #24).

As always, business strategy comes first. Charelene Li and Josh Bernoff are quoted in the Tuck School of Business case study as saying “Ask first who you‘re trying to reach, what you‘re trying to accomplish, and how you plan to change your relationships with your customers. Then, and only then, can you decide what technologies to use.”

Lessons learned:

-Experiment with social media metrics to find what is appropriate for your business

-Use different tools for different business functions, depending upon what you want to achieve

-Tie social media metrics to the business strategy–it is always about business performance!

Web references:

Top Rank Blog Tac Anderson interview

Social Media Marketing Metrics All Companies Should Measure, SFAMA

How to Use BI to Measure Social Media Activity, Linda L. Briggs, tdwi, 2013

The 10 Metrics that Matter Most for Social CRM, HP Enterprise Services, 2013

Digital Communication at Dell—Case Study, Research Associate Jennifer M. Farrelly T‘09 of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth under the direction of Professors Paul Argenti and Eric Johnson. Downloadable.

The Canadian Institute 4th Annual Conference on Social Media, Metrics and Measurement, Richard Binhammer, Social Media and Communities, 2010