Measuring Social Media

Measuring Social Media

Over the last couple of months, there has been a allot of buzz around Social Media Optimization (the New Rules of SMO, the Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing and Treating Social Media Optimization as another Distribution Channel) and the list goes on. However, what I haven’t noticed is any discussion on how to measure social media optimization. We all know from Marketing 101, that the ability to measure the effectiveness of marketing initiatives and calculating a ROMI (return on marketing investment) is imperative to a company’s bottom line. In fact, just yesterday; Comscore announced a research and development initiative that is designed to provide comprehensive measurement of conversational media such as blogs and community-driven sites.

With that said, let’s jump right in on ways you can measure social media optimization today because we all know that Comscore studies can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before we can see any of the results.

Standard ‘Engagement’ Metrics

Whether or not you are leveraging social media, there are some general ‘engagement’ metrics that you should be monitoring as part of your marketing initiatives:

  • Unique visitors
  • Time spent on site
  • Total time spent per user
  • Frequency of visits
  • Depth of visit
  • Conversions

You can track most of these metrics from well known web analytics tools like Omniture or even Google Analytics which is free.

And then of course, if you are using paid search you will want to examine the standard search metrics such as clicks, impressions, click through rate, conversion rates, revenue and possible ROAS (return on ad spend). I would also recommend SEM Director as an additional enterprise solution, if you can afford it. It basically allows you to assign values to particular actions on the website once they arrive from search (i.e. filling out a form, clicking on a particular link, an internal search, etc.)

Social Media Optimization Metrics

There are several things you can look at when measuring the success (or not) of your SMO marketing efforts; and of course it depends on what your overall marketing goals are. In addition to the above ‘engagement’ metrics; here are some others to consider:

Reading content – if you have a blog, a good way to measure engagement is to monitor who is reading your blog and where they are coming from. You can run web analytic reports that will show you what is the most popular content on your site (blog); how long they were on that page, where they came from, and also the bounce rate (percent of visitors who left your site after visiting a particular page).

Contributing content – assuming you have a blog and allow for comments; a quick and easy metric would be to monitor the number of visitors who are actually interacting (posting comments) on your blog.

Who is bookmarking your site/blog posts – there are a couple of ways you can look at this metric. You can use your web analytic tool and run a click map report and see how many web visitors are clicking on the social bookmarking icons. Or, you can simply create profiles in each of the bookmarking sites and search for your urls. This can be very time consuming and would only recommend spending time searching in digg, del.icio.us, stumbleupon and netscape.

Subscribing to a RSS feed – you can also measure how many web visitors are subscribing to your RSS feeds.

Emailing posts – assuming you allow for your blog postings to be emailed to others (see below); you can use your blog platform tool like wordpress to see how many emails are actually being sent through your web form.

Who is talking about you – another metric you can use is to see who is actually linking to your blog and talking about your blog postings. You can do this a couple of different ways; through technorati or searching in Google and Yahoo for the following: link:http://www.yourwebsite.com. Or, if you have budget, you can hire companies like Radian6 or Collective Intellect, that offer real-time social media monitoring and analysis.

Technorati Tags: social media optimization, measuring social media, socialmediaoptimization, social media marketing, social media metrics

About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • http://www.kalisoncook.com Kalison Cook

    GREAT POST…thanks for tips. Social Media is defintely shifting the marketplace.

    - K

  • Maureen

    another way would be to be measure the total impressions/comments if you are distributing content on Youtube.com.

  • Mark

    Very informative. Thank you.

    But how can you calculate an ROI from these metrics?

  • Jason Yee

    Mark – good question. I would first set some baseline metrics around ‘engagement’ i.e. number of comments, rss subscriptions; and then use that as a benchmark.

    Unless you can track online/offline revenue (assuming that is your end goal) this is really all you have.

    jason

  • http://http://brendonswanson.com/blog/?p=74 Brendon Swanson

    Test.

  • http://http://brendonswanson.com/blog/?p=74 Brendon Swanson

    Sorry for the last post.

  • http://blog.michellemacphearson.com Michelle MacPhearson

    I think the difficulty in measuring/tracking exact SMO “stats” or results is what leads many to ignore it and/or think of it as a fad.

    This is really an interesting conversation though – what good is the marketing if we can’t measure direct results? The results we can measure – is it enough to justify the time spend on SMO?

    And in measuring results, one has to take into account the lasting impression your efforts may have made on the end user. Visitors coming via SMO efforts *may* have a preconceived idea of your content, as it may be recommended (or not) on the referring source. They may have heard about you through their network. They might be visiting to see what a loser you are (hope not!) or because their most admired friend thinks you’re the cat’s meow.

    A visit isn’t just a visit… Anymore.

    Which brings the question of – Are visitors gained via SMO potentially more valuable then those who stop in after a google search?

    Some might argue yes.

    -M

  • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito

    Hi Michelle – thanks for stopping by. So, you bring up another interesting point when you mentioned Google search because now there is an additional variable to throw in the mix; that is, are they coming from paid or natural search?

    I would be interesting to see if there is a way to measure “lifetime value” of a customer and track that back to a referring source. I would imagine that visitors coming from a social media site would potentially be more valuable because of the relationship factor (i.e. 500 people may have a site bookmarked in del.icio.us) and many of them are a part of the same network. On the other hand, if I am selling internet phone service or iPod accessories online, I would say that paid search would win that battle. It just depends on the media, channel, product/service and the business itself.

  • Julie

    Michael,

    thanks for this post. These are the exactly the metrics that we are ‘trying’ to measure for some of our social media strategies.

    Thank you,
    Julie

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