Social Media: What Should I Measure?

Social Media: What Should I Measure?

Last week I wrote about what I think you can expect in terms of ROI on a social media strategy. This week, I want to focus on what you should be measuring to gauge the productivity of your initiatives. These are not hard and fast rules, but more my personal preference of metrics.

BLOG

Your blog should be your hub, your epicenter. It’s the soul and personality of your business. In addition to being the most effective place to create and share content, it will also boost your domain rank in search results on sites like Google.

Measuring your blog is fairly straightforward. I use Google Analytics and keep monthly tabs on things like pageviews, visits,  and time spent on site. Also, look under the “content” section in GA to see which of your posts has had the most impact in terms of pageviews and average time on page. My analytics tell me that “Bad Emails Killed the Radio Star” has been my most popular piece of content so far, but people spent the most time (five minutes and 40 seconds) reading “Driving Traffic to Facebook.”

Next, I look at where my traffic is coming from. Right now, 30.41% is direct traffic, 56.43% is from referring sites and 13.16% is from search engines. Of those referring sites, Twitter and Facebook are my top two traffic generators.

Finally, I look at how I’m doing this month compared to last month. Google Analytics tells me I’m up 19.51% in total traffic.

TWITTER

Twitter has been my most popular referral engine for my blog thus far – I can see that from Google Analytics, but what else can I measure in Twitter? First off, I look at how much my community is growing. Are people following me on a regular basis? Is my number of followers going up and not down each month?

Next, Let’s take a look at Twitter engagement. How many people are clicking on links that I Tweet? A great way to measure this is by setting up a free account at Bit.ly. It will tell you how many people have clicked on a particular link making it easy for you to measure how far and wide your content is traveling. Beyond clicking, how many people are re-tweeting your content? Are you creating #hashtags? Are people picking them up and using them?

Twitter can be measured and quantified in a variety of ways. These are just a few of the metrics I look at to make sure my Twitter mojo for my own brand is moving in the right direction.

FACEBOOK

More and more data is emerging that Facebook may not be the best place to interact with consumers. Sure, it’s the largest social network on the planet – by far – but new studies suggest that users don’t necessarily want to interact with brands there. Instead, they see Facebook as a place for interaction with “real” friends and family. That said, I think there is still value in participating there if you’re a business.

How do you measure it? The most comprehensive way is to use Facebook Insights. In addition to tracking obvious things like the number of fans your page has, you can also use Insights to look at Interactions, Post Quality, Page Views, Media Consumption, Discussion Posts and Demographics. Essentially , if there is a stats that has some meaning to your campaign effort, Facebook Insights can probably help you track it.

If Insights is a bit much for you, try looking at simpler things like friend / fan count month over month. Is it increasing at a rate that is meeting or exceeding your stated goals? What about interaction and engagement – are friends and fans commenting on your content and status updates? Are you engaged and commenting back?

YOUTUBE

YouTube is a tricky social media platform. Sure, it has become the defacto standard for online video, but most companies still don’t know how to properly use or measure it. My preference is to not drive traffic to my YouTube.com channel. Instead, I embed my videos on my blog and send traffic there. Why encourage interaction and comments on YouTube’s site, when I can provide a richer experience for users on my own web property?

So what should you measure to gauge YouTube’s effectiveness? I’ll admit that this one is a bit trickier. It’s hard to measure much more than total video views and comments. I think the more valuable metrics when assessing a YouTube video’s success are the ones surrounding the other channels in the social media wheel. Embed the video on your blog and use Twitter and Facebook to distribute it. Then, look at the metrics we’ve outlined above to track the efficacy of that particular piece of content. You’ll get a more comprehensive set of data points.

The other really great thing about using YouTube is the SEO benefits it provides. As we all know, ranking for almost any text keyword is extremely difficult. Getting on the first page of Google for almost any subject is nearly impossible. But, Google is always trying to find a way to feature video items in search results. So, while you may not rank on the first page for text-based keywords, you might be able to get prime placement for a video you created that was tagged and described properly for those competitive terms. The reason? While everyone is out there fighting over text-based results, very few companies are creating relevant video clips thus the competition for those video placements is far less. Obviously, applying some sort of metric and goal around that concept will legitimize your use of YouTube in your social strategy in a big way.

TIP OF THE ICEBERG

Obviously there are hundreds of other social tools I didn’t touch on in this post. I also only scratched the surface of what you can be doing to measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign. For companies that want to really drop some cash and dig into the depths of social media measurement and reporting, there are products like Radian6 that are geared towards enterprise level clients that need more extensive data at a more granular level. While I understand the need for  Fortune 500 companies and the like to go to such lengths to report on such a large component of their marketing budget, I think the tips outlined above should get the majority of you started on planning and launching the first stages of your social media campaigns in a manageable and affordable way.