Using Tools to Measure Social Media Success

Which social media metrics are most important and can use online tools to measure them?

Social Opportunity

This is probably the easiest category to measure. This is where you count your fans, followers, members, readers, and visitors. Facebook has a built-in analytics tool, Insights, to track “likes” over time. You can export the data into an Excel file and specify date ranges.

Twitter followers are easy enough to count just by checking your profile at about the same time each week and entering in a spreadsheet, thought the analytics tool from Raven would save you from doing it manually. Free Twitter tools are abundant, but many of them track one specific thing, creating the need for multiple Twitter tracking tools. And who needs that?

WordPress and Google both have great free analytics tools that will track your blog readership and web visitors.  PostRank is a good low-cost option to track blog readership and engagement.

Social Health

Social health metrics include posts, comments, and sentiment. When you’re starting out, measuring these can be as simple as making note of which blog and Facebook posts seem to generate the most comments, and then figure out why. Do you see a lot of engagement when your posts are how tos? Or when you write something controversial? Is there a particular subject matter that tends to get the conversation flowing?

For years we’ve tracked traditional media hits by entering them in a spreadsheet and then assigning a sentiment–positive, negative, or neutral–to each story. Then we can easily create a pie chart that shows how many of the stories were positive compared to negative. The same can be done for online comments.

If you’re past that stage or get tons of comments on almost every post, a paid tool like Radian6 may be necessary to track trends over time. Another that helps measure sentiment is the aptly named Sentiment Metrics.

Branding

Awareness, brand attributes, and purchase intent fall in this category. Surveys are going to be your most useful tool. We’ve used SurveyMonkey for years for client satisfaction surveys. Different social media networks also have their own survey tools–there’s SurveyTool for Facebook and TwtPoll for Twitter, among countless others.

Product Trial

This is the category for lead generation and coupon redemption. A great thing about online coupon sites like Groupon is that the tracking is built in. You immediately know how many people bought your Groupon (you can see the number prominently displayed on the sight), but you also want to know how many actually redeem their coupon and how much additional they spend. Here’s a how-to for managing Groupon redemptions.

Sales

Sales management tools like Salesforce.com have begun integrating social media into traditional CRM platforms. Integration helps track conversions and revenues seamlessly. I mentioned Radian6 earlier–it can integratesd with Salesforce, meaning you can create new contacts or leads in Salesforce directly from the Radian6 dashboard. These tools are going to be the most expensive on the spectrum, but they’ll also be the most useful because you can see what impact social media is having on sales goals and other business drivers.

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