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How to measure your social media impact – tips and tricks

So your company is now participating in social media. You’ve set up a Twitter account, a Facebook page, Google+ page boards. You respond to customer questions, follow fans, post important news, and thank your advocates for their support.

What are you doing to track and monitor these social interactions? If you’re engaging in social media, then you should be measuring those activities.

Here are five simple social media metrics you should be measuring:

1. Volume

The first social media metric is to measure the volume. What is the size of the conversation about your brand or your campaign? Volume is a best initial indicator of interest. People tend to talk about things they either love or hate.

While volume can seem like a simple counting method, there’s more to it than just counting tweets and wall posts. It’s important to measure the number of messages about your brand, as well as the number of people actually talking about your brand, and track how both of those numbers change over time. For example, Facebook Insights has a useful metric (cleverly called “people talking about this”) that measures how many people have posted something to their walls about your brand page. Learn when volume is higher – are there days or times when more people seem to be talking about your brand? Maybe you can use this information to focus more of your own posts during these times to get more engagement.

2. Reach

Reach measures the spread of your social media conversation. Reach can help you understand the context for your content. How far is your content disseminating and how big is the audience for your message?

Large audience is good, but reach alone does not tell you everything. Reach becomes very powerful when compared to other engagement metrics. Use reach as the denominator in your social media measurement calculations.

Pick important action or engagement numbers like clicks, retweets, or replies and divide them by reach to calculate your engagement percentage. The possible audience for your campaign, how many people participated?

3. Engagement

Speaking of engagement metrics is one of the most important areas to measure in social media. How are people participating in the conversation about your brand? What are they doing to spread and engage with your topic?

Twitter retweets (RTs) and Facebook shares and posts are helpful to know who is spreading your content, while comments, replies and likes are helpful to see who is replying to your content. Are you focused more on generating interaction (replies, comments) or on spreading a message (retweets and posts)? Be sure you’re using metrics that reflect what’s important to your brand right now And are there types of content that generate engagement?.

4. Influence

Who is talking about your brand and what kind of impact do they have? Influence is probably the most controversial social media metric; there are tools that measure social influence, and they all do it in different ways. But one thing they all agree on is that audience size does not necessarily relate to influence. Just because someone has a lot of followers or friends, that does not mean they can encourage those followers to actually do anything.

the type of potential influence is useful to decide who to reach out to when you’re creating a campaign. Certain Tools measure online social capital and the (potential) ability to influence others. Kinetic influence will help you understand who is participating in and driving conversation about your brand and your campaigns and who gets others to participate in these relevant conversations. You can find your brand advocates by purely focusing on people whose messages are communicated by others, and not just who necessarily has the most followers.

5. Share of Voice

To really understand how well you’re actually doing on social media you should consider a share of voice metric. Determine what percentage of the total conversation about your industry is focused on your brand compared to your main competitors and rivals. Learn from your competitors’ successes; since so many of these social media conversations are in the public domain you can measure your competitors’ impact just as easily as you can measure your own impact. Preparation and constancy are essential to an effective social media measurement. Pick your favourite metrics and start tracking them. Use the same formulas and tools to calculate these numbers every week. Track and analyse your numbers over time and pay attention to how they change. If you see anything that looks higher or lower than what you would expect then investigate it further. By measuring these five social media metrics, you’ll be able to better understand the impact and effectiveness of your social media activity.

The 5 easy steps to measure your social media campaigns

Step 1: Determine Your Social Goals

Before measuring every single tweet and Facebook comment posted about your brand, think about your goals with your social media. What are you trying to gain or accomplish through these social channels? which channels are most relevant to your goals?

The first step in your measurement plan should be to create a list of what you’re trying to achieve from your social media campaigns. Social media can serve many different purposes, from broadcasting information and news, to answering customer questions and engaging with the public.

Most people have already started interacting on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram, depending on the type of information you’re sharing. You’ve probably considered the audience you want to reach and the tools they’re using. The next step is to think about what you want your audience to do with your content using these channels. Are you trying to get them to read, reply, share, purchase, click or engage?

Step 2: Create Metrics To Measure These Goals

Your next step is to match your goals to actual behaviours and metrics and you can measure. For example, if you’re trying to measure engagement, then what is the form of engagement you want to track? Is it reposts or retweets? Comments or Replies? Clicks? Here are a few suggestions of behaviours to measure, based on a few common social media goals…

  • If you want to measure awareness, then use metrics like volume, reach, exposure, and amplification. How far is your message spreading?
  • If you want to measure engagement, then look for metrics around retweets, comments, replies, and participants. How many people are participating, how often are they participating, and in what forms are they participating?
  • If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then track URL shares, clicks and conversions. Are people moving through social media to your external site and what do they do once they’re on your site?
  • If your goal is to find advocates and fans, then track contributors and influence. Who is participating and what kind of impact do they have?
  • If your goal is to increase your brand’s share of voice, then track your volume relative to your closest competitors. How much of the overall conversation around your product category is about your brand?

Step 3: Measure

After listing the metrics you want to focus on you need to find tools that actually capture these metrics and then start measuring. Sometimes, social media channels themselves provide some form of analytics, but in some cases you will need to use third party tools, and you can build your own using APIs.

If you’re not sure which tools to use for which channels Google search and you’ll find lots of options. SocDir is a comprehensive source with a list of more than 300 social media metrics tools.

Most social analytics tools work in real-time, so if you can plan ahead and set up tracking before your campaign begins it will be much easier to view the data you need later.

On Twitter for example, viewing tweets that are more than a few days old is very expensive and far less reliable than collecting and archiving them in actual real time. Advisable to set up your measurement tools before your campaign begins.

The measurement part of this can take some time, so let the tools do their work. Make sure they’re tracking the specific social posts you’re interested in, try to filter out spam, and then come back in a few days to repeat these steps.

Step 4: Monitor And Report

The fourth step is to report your results. Use your initial findings to set a benchmark for future measurement and share these early figures with your important stakeholders. Two important questions to establish are:

  • How do your numbers compare to what you expected?
  • How do they compare to your competitors’ or related products and campaigns?

One of the great exciting parts of social media analytics is that you can easily run reports about your competitors and see how they’re doing.

This is also a good time to maybe consider your schedule for regular reporting. Depending on your schedule, monthly or quarterly reporting may work best, but weekly reporting may also work well for others. No matter the schedule, make sure you’re checking in regularly on your metrics. Let your metrics accumulate over time; you’ll see how valuable this data will become after a few months have passed and you have older data to compare to your new data.

In your reports, be sure you highlight the important numbers:

  • Include benchmarks or other contextual information so that your stakeholders can quickly understand what all the figures mean
  • Consider including graphs of your data which can help communicate your results quickly and clearly to your audience
  • Keep your graphs simple and clear

Step 5: Adjust And Repeat

The fifth and final step is to carefully review your measurement program. How are these metrics performing? Are you missing anything? Was anything unnecessary? Figure out what you can improve, make changes, and then measure more. Check back in with the goals you set initially and make sure your new metrics actually help you address those goals you set.

If you’re participating in social media, you really need to understand how you’re doing. Is your content having the impact you want? Are you meeting your company’s goals with social media? This is why monitoring and measuring your social media activities is so importantly – you need reliable and good analytics that help you track your success on channels like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.