3 Factors To Consider About Social Media Measurement

So, you’ve set up a social media campaign for your business; you’re spending time and resources on it, and want to know how you’re doing. Are you optimizing your efforts? How can you tweak things to make results more effective? Which also asks the question, what parts of your campaign are indeed most effective?

There have been a growing number of tools on the market lately but there are some key concepts to keep in mind while evaluating your social media engagement and impact. This article aims to clarify a few items revolving around the “what, why and how” of social media metrics and the interpretation involved in measuring this ever-changing channel. We will also discuss two popular but slightly different tools currently available.

1. Monitoring vs. Measurement

What social media measurement tools provide is more of a way to monitor your campaign rather than measure it. This means, for example, finding out how much your brand was discussed (number of mentions), then matching this against favorable mentions (brand mentions alongside affective words such as like, impressed, etc.) or unfavorable mentions. In other words, what you’re getting is an approximate idea of awareness and preference for your brand or product.

2. Social Media Measurement vs  Standard Web Analytics

The web analytics points of measurement, such as Impressions and Clicks, for example, can’t just simply be applied to social media just because it is web-based. Although you could perhaps compare the number of hits to your website before and after you kicked off your social media campaign, the very nature of this new platform is that it goes far beyond website and banner clicks.

People are discussing your brand, reviewing your products, and sharing information with fellow consumers – this certainly can be quantified for social media, but in a different way than we do for web analytics. However, the end interpretation remains qualitative, even if the measures used are quantitative. A quick example here: let’s say 70 percent of potential consumers appear to discuss your brand positively. Do they prefer, like or love the brand/product? How do we measure the levels of these affective feelings?

A second scenario: what if several people like your product but a high-influencer announces a negative review? Where do we then stand? How will this change our position? Factors such as impact and influence are not as black-and-white when it comes to measuring them. There are a few extra layers of complexity involved in social media evaluation as compared to good, old web analytics.

3. The tie-in with your end goal

The end goal of social media efforts is generally to increase revenue. While increasing customer awareness, preference, education or engagement may be part of the process, the eventual gains we hope to see as a result of our efforts, is in regards to the bottom line.

In other words, it’s important to have clearly-defined goals for your social media campaign aside from “But everybody else is doing it.” Only then can you effectively use the tools to gauge, tweak and optimize your campaign to reach these goals, in order to reach your  P&L goals.

Two Popular Social Media Measurement Tools

Let us check out two popular tools on the market. The first of these — Radian6 — is a monitoring tool, while Klout specifically measures levels and types of current and potential influence.


Radian6: (http://www.radian6.com/get-started/what-we-do)

Self-described as a “social media monitoring platform tool to help brands learn who is talking about them, what they are saying, and who the industry influencers are via real-time data provision. Increase or change to a brand’s community engagement can be evaluated based on resulting changes in how the brand is discussed. Radian6 boasts a client portfolio of over 1400 clients spread across a broad spectrum of industries.

KLOUT: (http://klout.com/kscore)

Klout is a personal favorite. It is focused on finding the influence level of brands, products, or people who are engaging in online conversations. Using about 25 variables, Klout measures True Reach (number of active accounts followers), Amplification (likelihood that content posted will prompt action: replies, retweets, etc.) and Network Influence (How many highly influential accounts reply, retweet or follow you).

Currently measuring only for Twitter, Klout is currently working on incorporating Facebook activity into its scoring system. It will look at factors such as the ability to spark a conversation, the number of tags, likes and comments as well as the number of influential Facebook users who engage in conversations with a given user. Check out your own standing on Twitter by typing in your username on the Klout homepage.

Many measurement tools based heavily on web-crawling for relevant keywords have received some criticism as being glorified search engines which simply search blogs, websites, Facebook and Twitter. However, they do provide useful insight, which most brands may not otherwise have. Among the plethora of tools out there, understanding your goals and how measurement/monitoring and influence statistics can help you is a first step to choosing the right tool for your business.

Further Reading

There is very well explained and informative post and video by Olivier Blanchard of BrandBuilder Marketing, as well as an article by ReveNews Managing Editor Angel Djambazov.

About Rachna Sundaram

A digital media and marketing addict, Rachna’s love affair with the web began during the days when the Internet was being referred to as New Media. With a degree in Communications focused on “New Media Journalism” and an MBA focused in Marketing, Rachna was a reporter and web producer at Forbes, Inc. and then pursued a career in digital branding & communication. Her current range of activities include the role of Editor and Business Developer at http://SQUA.RE, a web-based luxury community start-up; Corporate Blogger with a focus on consumer experiences & behavior, and writing about all things digital for various online publications.

A well-structured nomad, Rachna has lived, studied & worked in south India, Chicago, NYC, Montreal & Paris, a track record that helps in understanding what makes different people (& consumers) click, online and offline. Follow her on Twitter: @Rachna2010

14 Responses to 3 Factors To Consider About Social Media Measurement

  1. Excellent piece, Rachna. Regarding campaign monitoring, in addition to measuring the number of mentions of a brand and if the commentary was positive or negative, I think it's important to gauge the share of voice your brand has among social influencers. Done right, your campaigns will attract influencers who will attract future customers.

    • Rachna2010 says:

      Agree – some kind of common ground between the information the two above tools provide could help determine what people with higher share of voice are saying. Then, as you said, it's a question of getting them on your side.

  2. This is a great primer to the world of social media monitoring. Measuring social media is still a new field and the best practices are still fresh. Real traction will be achieved with the advancement of text analysis technologies. In the mean time, we can use IMC techniques the best we can and measure against business goals.

    • Rachna2010 says:

      Thanks for your comment, Rommil. Measurement is still so new like you said, and added to this is the fact the the tools themselves are evolving quickly – new features are being added regularly, and then businesses are then learning how to use these features optimally. SM is just a fraction of the overall marketing plan, and it will be interesting to see what SM metrics are chosen to set SM-IMC goals by each business.

  3. Sam says:

    Try Actionly, Social Media Monitoring & Listening platform. We track across various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Flickr, Youtube, News and Google Buzz.

    Wrote a recent blog on 3 Must Measure metrics – http://www.actionly.com/blog/2010/09/3-types-of-s


    • Rachna2010 says:

      Sam – thanks for your comment. I think the Conversions point in your blog is a tricky one as it requires filtering out which of them was directly a result of SM, and not combined with other marketing messages your business uses – this is what makes things tricky. It means defining your SM goals clearly and understanding that it is one small part of a larger marketing plan/marketing objectives.

  4. Michelle says:

    Hi Rachna,

    I'd also say it's important to know which department is interested in which analytics. I just recently had a chat with Nate Elliott from Forrester who shared his ideas about this with me and a couple of colleagues (@nate_elliott on Twitter if you want to find him 😉 ).
    Another question I've also seen a lot of people asking themselves is whether to have the analyses performed in-house (either by a social media marketing manager and his/her team, or a marketing analyst, or community manager) or out-of-house (full service tools like Synthesio — [disclosure : whom I work for!! ;D] that perform the setup, monitoring, analyses, reports, alerts, customized measures, etc or with an agency that does the legwork).

    I've seen a lot of people start with "free" or DIY tools to realize that in order to have quality analyses and an understanding of social media data it's going to require A) money or B) time.
    Chris Brogan just had a nice post about this on his blog, as well 😉

    Michelle @Synthesio

    • Rachna2010 says:

      Thanks for your response Michelle. I'd love to hear more about what you mean my which dept. is interested in which analytics? I'll check out Nate Elliott as well; thanks for the refer 😉
      RE: using in-house via external agencies, I think this will evolve into what we currently have in marketing/advertising in general — some business prefer to do things in-house while others prefer agencies — it all depends on their expertise & resources. I think, once SM is not-so-new, we'll begin to see more in-house teams dealing with analytics. Perhaps previous agency people moving over to the client side.

  5. CT Moore says:

    Great differentiation between monitoring and measurement. But what about the other Revenews article on Social Media Tools: http://revenews.com/ctmoore/4-social-media-to

  6. Rachna2010 says:

    Thanks Chris. Great article – I'd like to stress the point made in your last paragraph — if your goal is to measure the effectiveness of your team's work, you need to revisit your SM goals and see whether it's being met, and if yes, at what level. This is where the tools that you/I recommended come in.

  7. Hi Rachna,

    It's great to see articles like this that I think it really provides a valuable resource to people just starting out in social media. It really is a community and being able to depend each other to provide knowledge and learn from others experience is a huge bonus.

    Thanks for including us!
    Genevieve Coates
    Community Analyst – Radian6

  8. Rachna2010 says:

    Hi Genevieve — I very much like that you said: being able to depend on each other to share knowledge and learn — it's key to growing SM as a solid tool!

  9. […] 3 Factors To Consider About Social Media Measurement (revenews.com) […]

  10. 40deuce says:

    I completely agree with your take on social media metrics Rachna. Every company is going to have different goals for what they're trying to achieve in social media, so it's important to set your metrics to match your goals. It is a bit harder to measure things in the social media space, I think that if you know what you've set out to do you will also know the right metrics to look for for your specific goals.
    Too many people are determined to come up with rules for measuring social media that everyone should follow, but since every companies goals will be different, all the metrics will be also. While some metrics can be carried across almost all companies (such as number of followers or RT's, etc), there will also be a lot of metrics that are specific to only certain companies/campaigns.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos