So your company is now officially participating in social media. You’ve set up a Twitter account, a Facebook page, even a few Pinterest boards. You respond to customer questions, follow fans, post important news, and thank your advocates for their support.
Beyond that, what are you doing to track and monitor these social interactions? If you’re engaging in social media, then you should be measuring those activities. How else will you know how you’re doing? The good news is it’s easier than you think to measure your social media efforts.
Here are five simple, but oh-so-useful social media metrics you should be measuring right now.
The first – and easiest – social media metric to measure is volume. What is the size of the conversation about your brand or your campaign? Volume is a great initial indicator of interest. People tend to talk about things they either love or hate, but they rarely talk about things they simply don’t care about at all.
While volume can seem like a simple counting metric, there’s more to it than just counting tweets and wall posts. It’s important to measure the number of messages about your brand, as well as the number of people talking about your brand, and track how both of those numbers change over time. For example, Facebook Insights has a useful metric (cleverly called “people talking about this”) that measures how many unique people have posted something to their walls about your brand page.
Learn when volume is higher – are there days or times when more people seem to be talking about your brand? You can use this information to focus more of your own posts during these times to get more engagement, which we’ll talk about in a minute.
Reach measures the spread of a social media conversation. On its own, reach can help you understand the context for your content. How far is your content disseminating and how big is the audience for your message? Reach is a measure of potential audience size.
And of course, a large audience is good, but reach alone does not tell you everything. Reach becomes very powerful when compared to other engagement metrics. Use reach as the denominator in your social media measurement equations.
Pick important action or engagement numbers like clicks, retweets, or replies (more on this in a second) and divide them by reach to calculate an engagement percentage. Of the possible audience for your campaign, how many people participated? Reach helps contextualize other engagement metrics.
Speaking of engagement metrics, this is one of the most important areas to measure in social media. How are people participating in the conversation about your brand? What are they doing to spread your content and engage with the topic?
In most social media settings, content can be both shared and replied to. Twitter retweets (RTs) and Facebook shares and posts are helpful to know who is spreading your content, while comments, replies and likes are helpful to see who is replying to your content. Think carefully about your goals with social media. Are you focused more on generating interaction (replies, comments) or on spreading a message (retweets and posts)? Be sure you’re using metrics that reflect what’s important to your brand right now.
And are there types of content that generate engagement? Start paying attention to what messages generate the most replies and RTs. It might surprise you what people interact with; it’s not always what you expect.
Who is talking about your brand and what kind of impact do they have? Influence is probably the most controversial social media metric; there are myriad tools that measure social influence, and they all do it in different ways. But one thing they all agree on is that audience size does not necessarily relate to influence. Just because someone has a lot of friends or followers, that does not mean they can encourage those followers to actually do anything.
Based on past actions, we can make assumptions about how influential someone might be in the future. This type of potential influence is useful to decide who to reach out to when you’re preparing for a campaign. Tools like Klout and PeerIndex assign people an influence score. Tools like these measure online social capital and the (potential) ability to influence others.
Kinetic influence, on the other hand, will help you understand who is participating in and driving conversation about your brand and your campaigns, and who gets others to participate in these specific conversations. You can find your brand advocates by focusing on people whose messages are amplified by others, and not just who has the most followers.
5. Share of Voice
Finally, to really understand how well you’re doing on social media, you should consider a share of voice metric. How does the conversation about your brand compare to conversations about your competitors? Determine what percentage of the overall conversation about your industry is focused on your brand compared to your main competitors. And learn from your competitors’ successes; since so many of these social media conversations are public, you can measure your competitors’ impact just as easily as you can measure your own.
Consistency and preparation are essential to effective social media measurement. Pick your favorite metrics and start tracking them now. Use the same formulas and tools to calculate these numbers every week or month. Track your numbers over time and pay attention to how they change. If you see anything that looks higher or lower than what you typically expect, investigate it. By measuring – and paying attention to – these five social media metrics, you’ll be able to better understand the impact and effectiveness of your social media activity.