Saturday, 14 November 2009

Measuring Social Media

I have got that Social Media aren’t just a fad. I implemented a Social Media strategy that makes my brand visible in the most popular networking places like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube… even I have a corporate blog, now what? How can I find out that all these efforts are working?

Social media measurement still seems to be a blurry topic for many, mainly because of a clear standard criteria lack that would apply for all media. Some weeks ago I attended a conference by Peter Granat, CEO & President of Cision Europe. Peter stated that the main rule applying to new media communication dynamics is: “It’s not anymore about trying to control the message, but the chatters”. Taking care of what these say about our brand on blog comments or social bookmarking sites.

I would dare to add a second rule: “Every one of us is still learning on the go, trying to figure out how to use Social Media to drive real business value”. I wondered which would be a good starting point for a structured measuring, I propose you the following steps:

STEP 1: Define what are you measuring
Corporate reputation?
Conversations?
Customer relationships?
Return On Investment?

(In order one can really arrive to reasonable conclusions, comparing same nature values is fundamental)

STEP 2: Track behaviours/paths
Website visitors vs. time spent on your site
Blog to website click-throughs
Blog visits

STEP 3: Go deep in Social Metrics
Inbound links
Blog comments
Citations on social news sharing sites
Direct brand mentions
Brand-related links

STEP 4: Look for patterns
In topics
Through seasons
Mainstream media vs. Social Media

Quality vs. Quantity

Another approach that I found interesting is quality against quantity pondering. Qualitative objectives like those related with corporate reputation or conversations relevancy require a particular measurement approach. Begin for asking closed questions to benchmark the brand:

- Within our sector/product category, are we part of conversations?

- Are we compared with our competitors?


Then to measure Social Media success, we may ask:

- Were we able to build better relationships with our key audiences?

- Are we participating in conversations where we previously weren’t?

- Is our brand keeping still running monologue or is it moving to a meaningful dialogue with customers?

Qualitative assessment requires more human analysis over the automated results to understand nuances and brand positioning across different social media platform, I found interesting how Buzz Logic specialises in this.

If you have in mind quantitative statistic-based metrics like traffic, sales or SEO ranking, there are some free tools that can help with them:

  • Google Analytics and Feedburner are essential, free tools to help analyze your blog traffic, subscriber count, keyword optimization and additional trends.
  • With Xinu you can find out how well your site is doing in popular search engines, social bookmarking and other site statistics.
  • For ROI I found a good starting point in the Social Networking Media ROI Calculator.
  • HubSpot is an inbound marketing software as a service (SaaS). HubSpot typically tracks keyword rankings; competitor’s web marketing presence, traffic analysis, leads and leads intelligence. But recently added social media tracking features to measure the impact of social media on your goals.
  • During this 2009 appeared two social media monitoring tools that are leading the way: Radian6 and Scout Labs. Offering some accurate data like buzz volumes or people’s sentiments (a.k.a. what people are loving or hating, in real-time) amongst other interesting features.

Conclusion

The important thing is, regardless of how you choose to measure engagement, to have a clear metric in mind before you begin. Without some sort of benchmark, it’s impossible to determine success. What is pretty clear is that in order Social Media measurement pays off, it requires considerable commitment, besides time and staff investment.

One response to “Measuring Social Media”

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