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
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.