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Tracking Social Media

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Andrew

Word of Mouth works. There are countless examples of how your brand can benefit from Word of Mouth (WOM) campaigns (as we wrote about here, here and here). But when social media can benefit you in so many ways beyond just traditional advertising, how do you measure it’s effectiveness? This question was recently posed on Mashable (a great social media blog for those that don’t know), and I commented the response below. What do you think about our reporting model? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

First of all, each social media campaign HOPEFULLY has unique goals depending on each business’ individual needs. So therefore the specific metrics that are tracked will vary in each case. For example if the marketing objective is to increase online awareness by 10%, first that “awareness” must be defined, measured, (hopefully) influenced, and then measured again. If you are measuring awareness you would probably be focusing on impression and interaction data rather than site data such as Google Analytics.

In working with clients over the past couple of years we’ve developed a tracking template that most client campaigns can use as a base for tracking ROI. It usually has to be tailored to their specific campaign, however, and certain parts will be emphasized more depending on the campaign. We usually measure:

Level 1: Impressions

These numbers are usually a combination of trackable views (such as forum views, youtube views, blog readership, etc) and estimated views (based on number of followers or fans). We use these numbers to determine how many people are simple EXPOSED to our message.

Level 2: Click – Throughs

These numbers show how many people actually clicked through to our message. They saw what we were offering, and said “yes!”

What’s the best part? We compare our number of impressions to our number of click-throughs, and find out our conversion rates. Then we can adjust accordingly – is our conversion rate good and we just need more of everything? Are our impressions high but click-throughs low (dictating a weak or un-engaging message)?

Level 3: Site Data

Google Analytics. How much time are people spending on our site? Where are they coming from? What % of entrance sources are places where we have started a relationship or are engaging our audience?

Level 4: Interaction Data

Theses numbers are my favorite, because they show how many people are engaging with the brand. We measure things like comments, @replies, direct messages, facebook messages, blog comments, emails, etc. We also look at the sentiment of comments, i.e. positive, neutral, or negative. As always, we are measuring how many people are interacting out of the total number that saw our message, so that we have a conversion percentage to help us adjust and measure our relative success.

There are always qualitative aspects that are harder to measure, and are sometimes even unable to measure in the conventional sense. And in that way, client education is of the utmost importance and is something that we struggle with constantly. We obviously want to be able to tell our clients that we can show success for the money that they are spending, but on the other hand sometimes we are affecting customer service, research, or human resources, and these things can’t be measured like advertising.

I’m going to use this as a blog post, because it seems that people aren’t necessarily aware of how trackable your social media initiatives can get. Our only problem is deciding how much to track, because if we tracked all the different metrics we possibly could, we would spend all our time on tracking. My interns would probably mutiny!

So, what do YOU think?

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