The Metrics of Social Media

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 17, 2009 in: Social Media Marketing, Twitter Tips & Tools

A friend of mine is a freelancer and he is a self-confessed tyrant of metrics. He analyzes the proposals he sends out and monitors how many people call him as a result. He analyzes every action in his sales process and has goals and can tell me at the end of the day how closeMetricsGraphsm he came to achieving his daily goals. He claims that he’s not obsessed with charts, per se, but with the productivity that results from them.

It’s the old “what gets measured gets managed” adage. Makes sense (even if it seems excessive to the rest of us).

Recently, he got me thinking about measuring and managing social media conversations with metrics. This blog isn’t so much me talking about what I do, but rather it’s a blog of me writing down my thoughts on the matter.

Social media is a difficult form of marketing/networking to apply metrics to, simply because it’s as much of an engaged lifestyle as it is a form of marketing. (Just compare the difference between most Gen-Y and Gen-X people when it comes to Twitter: Gen-Y people tend to adopt it as another part of life while Gen-X try to schedule it in like email. That’s just a generalization but it nicely illustrates how social media is a form of an engaged lifestyle even more than just marketing).

So, are there metrics you can derive from social media? If my friend wanted to add another column to his spreadsheet of business metrics, what might he put into it when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of social media?

Looking at Twitter, I’d suggest that he might use the number of followers as a metric. It’s not always reliable because of the number of spam followers that fester on Twitter, but it’s a start. He might think about measuring the number of tweets he’s made. Perhaps he could use Google Analytics (or some of the Twitter click-through analytics that are available) to see how many people are clicking through his links to his site. He might also count the number of Retweets that are made of his tweets and even the number of #followfriday references.

None of these are perfect but they’re not bad and, collectively, they give a good picture.

Then I turned my attention to Facebook to see if I could think of metrics there. Number of friends, obviously, is one of the ones that spring to mind. It would be nice if you could keep track of the number of comments or “likes” that people make, but that’s not possible on a personal page. (There are some further metrics along these lines available on a fan page, actually, so you can monitor interaction metrics there).

What gets measured does get managed and many businesses could stand to use a healthy does of measurement when it comes to social media.

Image credit: MRI

Happy Blogging!

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