48 Ways to Measure Social Media Success

December 20, 2011

Ultimately, as Olivier Blanchard has pointed out repeatedly, social media marketing has to demonstrate an ROI (though he acknowledges the questions have to be made more specific). In the b2b world, the “R” is generally leads (website call-to-action conversions) with some monetary value applied to them.

Measuring Social Media SuccessBut it’s crucial to the social media ROI debate to recognize that “R” is an end-of-the-process measure. There are numerous in-process measures that may be impossible to tie directly to ROI, but are nonetheless critical in producing that final “R” value.

Consider automobile manufacturing as an analogy. There are an abundance of measures, from machining tolerances on shafts to the temperature in the paint room, which are vital to track during the manufacturing process. The C-level folks may not know or particularly care what these numbers are, but if those values are off, they will affect quality, which impacts rework and warranty claims, which impact manufacturing and repair costs, which impact the ROI of each vehicle.

Similarly, in social media marketing, there are numerous intermediate “process” measures that don’t fit into an ROI equation, but which are vital in optimizing social media efforts in order to minimize “I” and maximize “R.” These metrics don’t represent the goals of social media marketing in and of themselves, but are critical measures to help optimize processes to achieve the ultimate objectives.

Here are 46 intermediate metrics (and two final measures) to help marketers evaluate the success of their social media programs and optimize their associated processes. Most of these are easy and free to track.

Nine Blog Metrics

  • • Overall traffic
  • • Traffic quality (e.g. bounce rate, average time spent per visit)
  • • Most popular posts (indicates topics with highest interest)
  • • Search traffic
  • • Social media/network-referred traffic
  • • Other key sources of traffic (e.g., company website, newsletters, syndication sites)
  • • Number of RSS subscribers (regular readers)
  • • Number of email subscribers
  • • Top visiting organizations (measure of targeting effectiveness)

Six Twitter Metrics

  • • Total number of relevant followers (exclude the inevitable spammers and oddballs who seem to be attracted to any active Twitter account)
  • • Interaction (@ mentions)
  • • Retweets (reflects both level of engagement and quality of shared content)
  • • Most tweeted links (i.e., which content is most popular with followers)
  • • Influence (e.g., Klout and Kred scores)
  • • Brand and mention tracking (e.g., from HootSuite or other social media monitoring tool)

Six LinkedIn Metrics

  • • Number of company followers
  • • Recommendations on products or services
  • • Page views (of LinkedIn company overview)
  • • Unique visitors
  • • Click-throughs (on product links)
  • • Followers by industry, function and company

Five Facebook Metrics

  • • Number of Facebook page “Likes”
  • • Friends of fans (indicates an organization’s total potential reach on Facebook)
  • • Number of people talking about you (the number of unique people who have created content about the company page on Facebook in the past week)
  • • Weekly total reach (the number of people who have seen one of the firm’s messages on Facebook in past week)
  • • Most popular posts

Ten YouTube Metrics

  • • Number of subscribers to the company channel
  • • Total number of video views
  • • Change in views and subscribers over last 30 days
  • • Engagement measures:
    •      » Likes / dislikes
    •      » Comments
    •      » Shares
    •      » Favorites added or removed
  • • Top videos, last 30 days
  • • Playback locations (e.g., regular YouTube page, company channel, mobile device, etc.)
  • • Top traffic sources

Two Google+ Metrics

  • • Number of people / organizations in company circles
  • • Number of people / organizations that have company in their circles
  • • Note: Google has indicated that it plans to introduce more advanced analytics for Google+ soon

Ten Company Website and Cross-Social-Network Metrics

  • • Total social media-generated visits to the company website
  • • Lift in direct visits (an imprecise but correlated measure)
  • • Lift in branded search visits (another imprecise but correlated measure)
  • • Major social network visits by source
  • • Traffic quality by source
  • • Most-viewed pages by social media visitors
  • • Top visiting organizations (all social media sources)
  • • Top visiting organizations (by major social network)
  • • Lead conversions (all social media sources)
  • • Lead conversions (by major social network)

If you’ve utilized the first 46 metrics to continually monitor and adjust your social media activities, the final two—the real return on investment for b2b marketers—should validate and quantify the value of all your hard work.

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20 Responses

  1. Great measuring strategies here. The Google+ strategies are really helpful. I haven’t quite grasped the importance of it, but I see the industry as a whole embracing Google+ so I’m going with the flow.

  2. This is a great article! It’s so important for company’s to track their progress to ensure that their social media campaign is really working.

    There are tons of free online tools to make social media management a breeze.

  3. Tom 

    Thanks Robert. So far, I think Google+ is viewed more as essential for SEO than compelling as yet another social network.

  4. Interesting metrics. I’s the bottom line that counts and it is not really possible to measure the exact influence of any one activity

  5. Tom 

    True Alan, but that’s why the intermediate measures are important. They at least give a sense of where a company is getting traction with influencers and prospects, and where activities may need to be modified or scaled back.

  6. I hope that this strategies will work for me.

  7. Two points here:

    1.) While it isn’t possible to completely isolate the impact of social media with 100% accuracy, it IS possible to generate metrics for senior management that identify quantifiable returns. One way to do this is to set up an economic value model that takes both hard and soft conversions into account. It is also important to keep in mind that we can’t isolate the impact of any one channel with 100% accuracy anymore (which is why there is so much experimentation with attribution tracking).

    2.)Yes, the bottom line counts, but it isn’t the only thing that counts. So called “soft metrics”, or what I call “marketing performance” metrics are also important. Much like the pilot of an aircraft, marketers need data and metrics that help them execute successful flights day in and day out — an activity that ultimately drives business value for their employer (the airline). Put another way, there is no chance of a positive ROI if marketers don’t have the kind of data available that helps them navigate, i.e., optimize content, channels, campaigns, etc. These types of metrics aren’t necessarily bottom line, ROI metrics but they are not unimportant.

  8. Tom 

    Excellent points Nan. The C-level cares primarily about the bottom line metrics. But those responsible for producing those results need a wide variety of in-process measures in order to help them do things right and do the right things to ultimately achieve those desired end results.

  9. Hi Tom,

    I like your top-level metrics blog post. Accounting for all of these data points is a trend that we started seeing since 2009.

    I am the co-founder and CTO of gShift Labs. A Web Presence Optimization Software company.

    At gShift we call this our Web Presence Insights Report and it includes web site analytics, search engine optimization data, keyword ranking data, social media metrics and social media signals.

    I lot of people are calling this social seo. At gShift, we prefer to call this “web presence”.

  10. Tom 

    Hi Chris -thanks, you and I are definitely on the same page with this. To me, the term “social SEO” is still too limiting because if leaves out tactics like optimized online PR, content marketing, and reputation management. All of these disciplines combined and coordinated are what optimize an organization’s web presence.

  11. Just bought this social media roi book by Olivier Blanchard and his advise makes perfect sense, that it’s like you’re reading your favorite novel where you can’t afford a break from reading one chapter to another. Love the metrics you’ve posted here and I’d like to add visits with conversions/% of completed goals (goal conversion) to the list – viewable in google analytics.

  12. Tom 

    Thanks Aaron, excellent additions to the list. I’ve found it helpful to use GA’s Advanced Segments capability to analyze the behavior of different groups, including “converters.”

  13. Lucy 

    Thanks! so many companies setup social media without a strategy and metrics.

  14. Tom 

    Hi Lucy – yes, it’s like taking a trip without a map. Or even a clear destination.

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