Social Media Measurement 101

  |  January 24, 2011   |  Comments

Define measurable goals, identify your performance metrics, set up your measurement tools, and decide when and how often to measure.

Social media marketing is a must for most marketing professionals today. Since many of us have flocked to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites, it has proven to be an alluring platform for many marketers to pursue. However there is a challenge to find the proper way to measure performance. Many have jumped in with little or no thought on how they are going to measure success. Do you fall into this category? If so, read on.


Part of the appeal of using social media as a marketing channel is the low cost to entry. It consists of basically setting up an account, developing your profile or page, and then conversing with the world. However, with new social media tools popping up everywhere, how do you know which is working and which isn't?

Let's look at what needs to be added to your processes that will allow you to measure social media effectiveness?

Define Measurable Goals

Think about what you are trying to accomplish and then set goals accordingly. Does your organization have a strategy? What goals do you need to put in place to realize that strategy? Now put this in terms of your social media platform. How can social media help you reach these goals? Are you simply interested in gaining a certain number of followers for branding and impressions? Are you trying to attract more visitors to your site so they can convert? Maybe you plan to use social media to enhance your ability to serve your customers and help them with their issues.

Regardless, make sure you have goals that are measurable. If you are trying to attract new visitors to your site, decide what that number is and when you hope to achieve those results. This may sound elementary, but you would be surprised at how many people have no real goals other than to build a Facebook page or blog because everyone else is doing it.

Identify Your Performance Metrics

Identify what success looks like. How are you going to measure success? What constitutes a failure? This would involve how you would like your campaigns to perform. Maybe you want to measure how often visitors respond to posts on your blog. Or maybe the number of followers generated by a viral promotion. Here is a list of some performance metrics you might include:

  • Number of followers, fans, favorites, etc.
  • Number of interactions (comments, posts, retweets, etc.)
  • Post or article ratings
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Conversion rate
  • Percent of active contributors
  • Time spent on site
  • Bookmarks
  • Feedback

These are just a few, but they should help you get started. Once you have these in place you can then start measuring against these metrics to see how your campaigns are performing.

Set Up Your Measurement Tools

If you are using Facebook or YouTube, you already have some built-in tools that will give you the analytical data to see how your page or video is doing. Make sure you take the time to learn how these tools work. Then add them to your regular review process.

If you are tracking visits to your site, you will need a Web tracking tool like Google Analytics. If you are using Facebook, you might be interested in this article on adding Google Analytics to your Facebook fan page.

There are other tools out there that can measure social media activity. More and more are sprouting up, so it is difficult to keep up with them all. Here are a couple of tools that can help get you started:

If you have used a tool that you like, please share with us in the comments section below. We would be interested to know which tools seem to provide you with the metrics you need for your campaigns.

Decide When and How Often to Measure

So now that you have the performance metrics and tools in place to measure them, you should identify how often you will review the data. Depending on your performance metrics, you may capture measurement data hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly. If your social media activities are fairly active, then hourly and daily would be recommended.

Once you have collected the data, you should develop a dashboard or executive summary that can be shared with others. It would be best to have this outlined by each initiative so you can contrast the differences in performance from one campaign to the other. The idea here is to compare and identify what seems to be working and what isn't. When you introduce new variables into the campaign, what positive or negative impact did it have? Keep this up over time so you can see trend data that will help you with long-term decisions.

Armed with this information, you need to take action. Make the necessary course corrections to get you headed in the right direction. Compare to your overall strategy and goals. Are you accomplishing what you set out to do?

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Ron Jones

Ron was president/CEO of Symetri Internet Marketing, which provides strategic SEM consulting and training. Ron was actively involved in the SEM community and spoke and trained at conferences and seminars. Ron also served on the Board of Directors for SEMPO and was one of the authors for the SEMPO Institute Fundamentals and Advanced courses.

Ron also published a book called Keyword Intelligence: Keyword Research for Search Social and Beyond. This book outlines various methods and tips for conducting keyword research but more importantly outlines many ways to use keyword research for social media, site design, content development and marketing, and even traditional marketing and branding.

Ron passed away on June 30, 2012.

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