"The more comfortable we get about the idea of measuring social media, the more we want to dig into the practical application of it," writes Amber Naslund at the Altitude Branding blog. But before you dive into a sea of metrics, she has some important recommendations. For instance:

Always begin with a hypothesis. Let's say you think an increase in blog subscriptions will correlate with an increase in sales, or that heightened activity in your help forum will lower call center costs. "You build your goals based on these hypotheses," she notes, "and you measure against them to see if you're on the right track."

You'll need more than one metric. "Followers or click throughs on their own don't tell you anything of value," she suggests. "Making metrics meaningful means weaving them together to glean insights, not just data."

But this is all moot, insists Naslund, if a company doesn't have an established infrastructure for analytics.

"It's staggering," she says at a related post, "to see how many companies are demanding measurements and some mysterious definition of ROI for social media [when they] can't even tell you their conversion rate on various website properties, or the retention rate for their customers."

The Po!nt: It's all fine and well if you want to measure the effectiveness of your social media strategies—just be sure you know what you're looking for, and how to find it.

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