Social media analysis: Assessing your audience


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The heart of every social media program is determining whether you have made a difference in achieving the strategic objectives of your communications plan and influencing the intended audience. More so than many other tactics we might use in communications, social media allows us the opportunity to measure and understand the impact of both the issues we are researching and our outbound campaigns.

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Social media analysis: Assessing your audience

  1. 1. © Heather Read Page 1 of 4Social Media Management@heatherreadSocial Media Analysis: Assessing your audience04/20/2012Adapted from article originally published at PRSA Philadelphiaby Heather ReadThe heart of every social media program is determining whether you have made a difference inachieving the strategic objectives of your communications plan and influencing the intended audience.More so than many other tactics we might use in communications, social media allows us theopportunity to measure and understand the impact of both the issues we are researching and ouroutbound campaigns.VolumeThe easiest and most straightforward way to understand the importance of a topic is to know how manypeople are talking about it, or in the world of social media, commenting about it. We call this postvolume. This is typically something you will measure by time period (month, week, day, or hour) or bycontent source.In the image below, I’ve provided an example of what post volume looks like for the last 30 days on thetopic “PRSA Philadelphia” using the keywords (“PRSA Philadelphia” AND prsaphilly AND “PRSA Philly”).In the upper left image, you can see that in the last 30 days there were 222 posts about this topic (theyall happen to be on Twitter in this case). However if you look at the bottom right image, which sorts thisnumber by the unique source count, you will see that there are 90 unique authors. That’s an average of2.46 posts per user.To determine who is posting the most, you would either use a report from your monitoring tool thatgives you the most prolific authors, or you can export your post list and use an Excel feature like pivotcharts to sort the posts by number of posts per person. Be careful if you are dealing with a large numberof posts (>5000) though, because social networks like Twitter do not let you export large chunks of datainto external databases; you will need to have a monitoring tool that has a relationship with these socialnetworks to do the analysis for you.
  2. 2. © Heather Read Page 2 of 4Social Media Management@heatherreadTwitter impressionsSimilar to how we measure impression totals based on publication circulation data, Twitter impressionsoffer a way to understand how the topic is reaching individual users. In most cases, when you are usinga monitoring tool, it will allow you to sort your result by number of Twitter followers. You can see in theimage below that while we had 222 posts this month for “PRSA Philadelphia,” this monitoring tool istelling us that these posts have reached more than 281,000 Twitter users. This represents the totalpossible Twitter users we could have reached.
  3. 3. © Heather Read Page 3 of 4Social Media Management@heatherreadThis number is usually calculated by totaling the number of followers on each of the accounts posted. Asa result, there are two important caveats. First, take care to de-duplicate Twitter followers if you have alow number of unique authors. If you do not, you are unnecessarily recounting the Twitter followers ofthe same users. Second, if you are measuring your outbound campaigns, please be careful to considerhow you are measuring performance on your outbound campaigns vs. this conversation you aremonitoring to get the full reach of the Twitter audience.Facebook shares and viewsAlso in the last column, we discussed a number of Facebook metrics. All of these are pertinent tounderstanding and analyzing the audience of the Facebook page you manage. What can be specificallyuseful here is to estimate the reach of your page using friends of fans and estimating what percentageof your page is actually engaging with you by dividing your page fans by the talking about this count. Youcan also estimate the total reach of an individual piece of content outside of your page by the number ofshares it has.Facebook also offers interesting demographic information. You can purchase behavior or market insightreports to see patterns and understand if your Facebook audience has a different brand affinity thanyour purchasers.BlogsThe first way you can tell if a blog is influential is by looking for the number of inbound links, uniquemonthly visitors or its overall Alexa score (here is an old but useful post about Alexa scores). Somemonitoring tools embed data-like inbound links-to help you quickly get to this number, or you can lookup this information by searching the blog’s URL on in mind that the vast majority of blogs will not be in the Alexa Top 100,000, especially if they arehighly targeted to a specific subject matter. There are some other metrics you can use to dig a littledeeper.Look at the blog author’s social footprint – if their Twitter and Facebook pages have a lot of fans,chances are the author’s content is getting read there too.Look at the number of comments on the page. If the post has no comments, either the community thatreads the blog doesn’t resonate with the topic, or perhaps the blog has lost readers.Check Google rank. Sometimes a small blog will start talking about a topic, and as public interest builds,it attracts readers because of its keyword rank.Here are a few other useful blog research tools to help you find and determine influence of blogs:, and
  4. 4. © Heather Read Page 4 of 4Social Media Management@heatherreadInfluencer ScoresIn recent years, a number of social influence scoring services have emerged to help calculate thesupposed influence of users whether across all social media, within their specific network, or forparticular topics. The most well-known are Klout and Peerindex. Both of these services can provide gooddirectional information for you to understand the relative influence of a particular user, but you shouldexercise caution in using them as your only audience measurement. Issues or crisis topics can start outwith small bloggers or social media users of low influence and spread quickly. You should always try toescalate items early and not discount them simply because of a low influencer score.You should know that Klout integrates with some monitoring tools, directly saving you an extra researchstep, and both Klout and PeerIndex offer browser plugins that will display their scores natively inTwitter. Recently, launched to help track the influence of Pinterest users. Both Klout andPinpuff allow you to use their relative influence scores to run dedicated marketing promotions toinfluential users.*Please note images above produced by Radian6