We monitor social media to derive the popularity index of your product, as reflected in your customers' posts. We scout the entire gamut of social media channels and employ different metrics and text analytics tools to extract specific insights from data on parameters like time spent on the page, click rates, comments and shares.
The two types of social media measurement are:
Ongoing analytics are necessary for keeping up with the overall pulse of general conversation about your brand and company. Once your brand tracking is set up, you can just let it run and check in regularly to see how everything is going.
Campaign-focused metrics, on the other hand, help you understand the impact of targeted marketing initiatives and will vary from campaign to campaign, depending on your goals for each. An effective social media measurement program will likely include both ongoing and campaign-specific measurement.
Let's say you work at a large consumer products company and are about to launch a new diaper brand. To accompany the big advertising and marketing push, you want to sponsor a one-hour Twitter party where parents and caregivers can discuss raising children, focused on issues around diapering and potty training.
You've picked out a unique hashtag, contracted with an influential Twitterer who will pose questions and lead the conversation. You're ready to go. But now you need to make sure you're measuring this conversation so you can learn – and later tell your boss – how effective the chat was.
Before you jump into measuring every single tweet, photo and Facebook comment posted about your brand, first think about your goals with social media. What are you trying to accomplish or gain through these social channels? And which channels are most relevant to those goals?
The first step in your measurement plan should be to generate a list of what you're trying to achieve from your social media efforts. Social media can serve a variety of purposes, from broadcasting news and information, to answering customer questions and engaging with a community. What is your company trying to accomplish?
You've probably already started interacting on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram, depending on the type of information and the format of the content you're sharing. You've probably also considered the audience you want to reach and the tools they're using. So the next step is to think about what you want your audience to do with your content on these channels. Are you trying to get them to read, share, reply, click, purchase, engage?
The most important aspect of any social media marketing strategy is to set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals. Posting blindly and expecting to achieve massive amounts of new sales would be like cooking without the right ingredients and expecting perfection. By setting goals before you begin, it's easier to measure success or failure. These goals aren't always focused on money or return on investment, and they shouldn't be. Social media marketing is more about engagement and providing solutions to problems rather than selling.
The next step is to match your goals to actual metrics and behaviors you can measure. For example, if you're trying to measure engagement, then what is the practical form of engagement you want to track? Is it retweets or reposts? Replies or comments? Clicks? Here are a few suggestions of behaviors to measure, based on a few common social media goals…
After you've listed the metrics you want to focus on, now you need to find tools that actually capture these metrics, and then start measuring. In some cases, social media channels themselves provide some form of analytics, in some cases you will need to use third party tools, and in some cases you can build your own using APIs.
If you're not sure which tools to use for which channels, ask around or do a quick Google search and you'll find tons of options.
Many social analytics tools work in real-time, so if you can plan ahead and set up tracking before your campaign begins (and well before your report is due), it will be much easier to access the data you need later.
On Twitter, for example, accessing tweets that are more than a few days old is very expensive, difficult, and far less reliable than collecting and archiving them in real time. When possible, set up your measurement tools before your campaign begins.
One of the great parts of social media analytics is that you can easily run reports about your competitors to see how they're doing.
This is a also a good time to consider your schedule for regular reporting. Depending on your (and your organization's) schedule, monthly or quarterly reporting may work best, but weekly reporting may work well for others. No matter the schedule, make sure you're checking in regularly on your metrics. Don't let your effort up to this point go to waste! And let your metrics accumulate over time; you'll see how valuable this data will become after a few months have passed and you have older data to compare to your new data.
In your reports, be sure you highlight the important numbers:
The final step is to carefully review your measurement program. How are these metrics doing? Are you missing anything? Was anything superfluous or unnecessary? Figure out what you can improve, make changes, and then measure some more. Check back in with the goals you set initially and make sure your new metrics actually help you address those goals.
In the case of our Twitter chat, we now realize that we also want to measure engagement around our chat hashtag. We've decided it's important to know how many of our host's tweets were retweeted and replied to, so we can understand what participants found most interesting. We can add this in and include it in our reporting next time.
If you're participating in social media, you really need to understand how you're doing. Is your content having the impact you want? Are you meeting your company's goals with social media? This is why monitoring and measuring your social media activities is so crucial – you need reliable and consistent analytics that help you track your success on channels like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.