Social media is easy to measure. That’s one of the most compelling factorsof online behavior – it’s trackable and comparable. And for marketers that means we can combine the creative right-brained activities with the logical left. We can fly by instruments, not just gut reaction. And we can demonstrate progress. That’s not the same as Return on Investment, but for many companies, it’s more feedback than they have on other areas of the business. Measurement helps us learn what’s working, do more of it and do it better.
So what should you be tracking as a minimum? Here are five dials you should have on your social media flightdeck:
- Blog – traffic over time, comment numbers over time, posts, comments per post, inbound links, RSS subscribers
The goal here is to track your reach and basic level of engagement. You can get the traffic and comment numbers from your blog platform. Feedburner will enable you to get the number of RSS subscribers. Technorati’s Authority index tracks the number of inbound links (although they’ve removed Watchlists as a service it seems).
- Commenting – number of comments you make, number of different blogs commented on
The goal here is to track your level of interaction with the community and its reach. You can do this easily manually, although commenting systems like Disqus and Typepad Profile do keep track of them. It’s just that different blogs use different systems.
- Twitter – Followers, tweets, RTs, @replies, link clicks
The goal here is to track your level of interaction, how your audience is expanding and the reaction of that audience. Twitter gives you all this info, so it’s simple to measure. The URL shorteners will show you the number of clicks on the links you share.
- Facebook Fan Page – views, number of Fans, posts, total interactions
The goal here is to see how your Page is being received. Facebook gives you a good dashboard which will show you this info. The Insights section will tell you about your Fan base and traction. There is a lot of good stuff in there.
- Podcast – subscribers over time, episodes, comments, comments per episode
The goal here is to assess the take up and enagement of your podcast. If you set up a dedicated feed, then Feedburner can tell you the number of subscribers. Comments (written/audio) tend to be lower for podcasts than text-based blogs.
- Video – views over time, number of videos, comments, subscribers, embeds
The goal here is to see which videos work best, and what the viewership/reaction is. YouTube has a good Insights tool which will show the views per video, comments and the embeds. Again there are some good demographics in here too.
Obviously, you can track a lot more data than this, but this should give you a good overview. Most blogging, podcasting and video services have their own free analytics behind them. The aim is to set some benchmarks and to move forward from there. Which channels does your audience use the most? What types of content do they respond to and share the most? What’s the best time to post the content? By looking at the data, these trends will start to emerge.
There are many methodologies for social media measurement. No two companies evaluate in the same way since they all have different channels, audiences, resources and levels of engagement. The trick is to get a system which fits with the communications culture of the business and gives the right instrument data to make decisions and to prove progress. Once you have that, you can link it to commercial impact and then compare it to investment.
In the first instance, the metrics above should be quick to set up and quick to manage.