Social media measurement doesn't have to be so confusing/frustrating/scary. When you match social media to your business goals, it's easy to focus on the right social media metrics and prove real value.
So we ’ ve talked about social media for business development and how to develop and promote great content. Now it ’ s time to find out what ’ s working and what isn ’ t.
Raven Tools, which is a suite of marketing tools for search engine optimzation, social media, email marketing, web advertising and more. handout We ’ re based right here in Nashville, in the Gulch, and we have customers all over the world. So basically I do social media marketing for a community of really smart marketers. I live and breathe this stuff.
I was in journalism, a reporter and editor for many years at The Tennessean and other publications. That ’ s where I first saw the amazing potential of social media. Now, if you know anything about reporters, you know that we don ’ t like when we don ’ t know things.
And when I moved from journalism into social media marketing, I discovered that there were a LOT of things I didn ’ t know. It was like learning to speak a different language. I had never heard of a KPI (that ’ s a key performance indicator, if you are like me). I did not know my CTR from my CPC.
And the thing that really drove me crazy was this ROI question. What ’ s the ROI of social media? Was I really supposed to be able to tell someone the ROI of social media? Was it a number? A percentage? Was I a total fraud that I didn ’ t know the answer to this? So like a good reporter, I decided to research the crap out of this ROI question until I beat it into submission.
So lemme tell you how that went. Do you ever let Google auto-complete your search results like this? It ’ s a great way to see what people are asking and generate new content ideas. When I typed in “ social media is, ” this is what happened. Not a great start. OK, let ’ s see what some of the search results were.
There ’ s so much stuff like this out there that our bosses are really starting to believe we don ’ t know what we ’ re doing. And the social media talking heads aren ’ t helping. They ’ re coming up with snappy comebacks, like What ’ s the ROI of your mother? What they REALLY mean is that what ’ s the ROI of social media is the wrong Q. Asking the ROI of social media is like asking the meaning of life: It depends! on who you are and what you want. My ROI is not your ROI.
So what DO you want out of it? That ’ s what you have to know. The Altimeter group asked social media marketers to name some of their metrics challenges, and the biggest challenge turns out to be tying social media to business outcomes. Well, there ’ s our problem. tie into other problems As social media marketers, our job isn ’ t tweeting or pinning or posting. It ’ s driving results for our clients and our businesses. Social media is just a means to get there. So if more than half of us can ’ t figure out how to align social media with real business goals, no wonder we ’ re in this endless ROI loop. We ’ ve already lost.
So let ’ s take a step back and make this a lot simpler. Let ’ s ask and answer the REAL question, the question your boss or your client is really asking when they ask about ROI. The question that YOU ask yourself. Is social media worth it? Is what I ’ m doing working? What am I getting out of all this stuff that I ’ m doing – the blogging and posting and engaging.
The good news is that social media can be tied to all sorts of business goals. It ’ s not that hard! Here ’ s a big ol list of them as reported by SM marketers surveyed by the website Social Media Examiner. All of these things are real business goals, and all these things can be measured.
The key is to measure what makes sense, not what ’ s easiest. It is super easy to measure fans and followers, and I ’ m not saying you shouldn ’ t. But there ’ s probably a better metric we can get to. To do that, we ’ ve got to communicate. Talk to your clients or boss. How does social media function for your business? Does it open the door? Close the sale? Retain customers? Reduce support costs? Generate new ideas?
More than likely, what you ’ re going to end up with are metrics that fall into one of these five buckets. Expound on each This is a very simplified version of the sales funnel (another phrase I had not heard of before this job), the path that a potential customer goes on from awareness of you to becoming your customer. These are the big five categories I ’ m going to be going over. Further down the funnel the harder to quantify, so.
And yes, there will be math. I ’ ll try to make it as painless as possible.
So we ’ re going to go through a lot of metrics really quickly, BUT you can go to this URL and download an extremely in-depth guide to each of the metrics I ’ m going to talk about and even more I ’ m not going to have time to get to today. All the math is laid out so it ’ s easy to understand and replicate.
Activity is a quantification of the straight-up work that you ’ re doing. Not its results; just the work. These are the metrics that let a boss or client know that you ’ re actually doing stuff for them. These numbers are also a great control for lots of other measurement we ’ ll talk about. So if you see dramatic fluctuations in engagement or reach or traffic – all the stuff we ’ ll talk about further on in – you ’ ll want to look here and make sure what you ’ re DOING hasn ’ t changed.
Post rate: how much you ’ re posting to each network. Consistency helps build your audience. Post type: Different types of media – Photos, videos, links, text updates, polls, questions, quizzes– each one ’ s gonna give you different engagement. Mix it up to keep your audience engaged and then track what works. Post topic: Are you all sales pitches all the time when you post? I hope not! What percentage sales-y vs. not? Different networks take a diff. mix. On FB, 50-30-20: 50 news; 30 personality, 20 sales Pair this metric with the engagement metrics we ’ ll discuss later to find your brand ’ s optimal ratio.
It should not come as news to you that social media is a two way channel. You can talk to people and they can talk back to you. Response rate: Did you respond to everybody? What percentage of questions/comments/problems did you respond to? Average response time: How long did it take you to respond? People don ’ t like to wait, especially if they have a problem, and we ’ re growing less tolerant all the time as we get used to social media. 42% of customers say they expect a response time of an hour or less when communicating with a brand on social media. mustbepresent.com
If you ’ re answering questions and deflecting problems via social media, you ’ re probably saving your company money. Customer service savings is how we determine how much a brand saves by answering problems quickly via social rather than routing people through phone, email. Need cost per issue via trad. your hourly rate, # of problems solved/period, avg. response time
We all want our messages to be seen by the largest number of people possible. Consumers exposed to a brand via social media are 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand than consumers with no social media exposure, so reach is important. Reach metrics are all about how you ’ re building your audience and building awareness of your brand, and also how your brand is perceived out in the world.
Reach is a brand ’ s largest potential audience on a given network per reporting period. Some networks are going to calculate this for us nice and tidy; some make us work for it. Main thing is to include peripheral audience members (like friends of fans) who may have encountered your brand without engaging it directly. Five networks.
This is the rate at which you ’ re adding or losing audience members. There are a lot of tools that can show you the number of fans of followers you added, but I like to view this as a rate, which means you ’ ll multiply all these by 100 to get a percentage. When viewed as a percentage of overall audience per channel, it ’ s more stable and easier to compare over time and across networks.
Mentions: How often are people talking about your brand and what are they saying? Set up all varieties of your brand name or product name (including misspellings, punctuation, etc.) in a social media monitoring tool. You can also do this for your competitors! Sentiment: lets us know how people feel about a brand – are they talking about you in a way that ’ s positive, negative or neutral.Lots of tools do this automatically. I bet you can guess what you want to do here... competitor, too
How much of the overall conversation does your brand get as compared to all your competitors? Divide brand mentions that we just figured by all industry mentions. A sustained social media campaign should grow share of voice, so measure over time to chart change. Also: share of conversation: office chairs/ergonomics. Brand mentions for key terms ÷ Total mentions of key term
So we know who our audience is. Engagement metrics are where you really start to find out if you ’ re making a dent. Reach is cheap. You can buy fans and followers, but... Here we ’ re talking about how your audience interacts with you. Do they like your content? Do they want to talk to you? Do they want to share your content? These metrics let you know what types of content works so you can create more.
How often do you receive virtual “ applause, ” including +1s, likes, thumbs-ups, favorites from your audience on what you post? These actions don ’ t constitute a big commitment for audience members, but they ’ re worth tracking as a sign that your content is on the right track.
Does your audience like to talk to you? Are you engaging to them? That ’ s conversation rate. This kind of back-and-forth really helps you build community, get feedback and new ideas, so it ’ s important — particularly on Facebook, where engagement rates help determine how much of your audience will be shown future posts.
Sharing is where it ’ s at. Shows people like your content, introduces you to new people, grows your reach, builds trust for your brand and helps make you an authority in your field. And search engines are really starting to lean on social signals like sharing to help them find quality content, so sharing could also help boost your search traffic.
Wrap it all up with average engagement rate. The percentage of your total audience that has engaged with your content in any way on a social channel per reporting period. You CAN look at this a percentage of your total posts, but I like measuring this as percentage of total followers. It ’ s important to understand that ratio: As your audience grows, engagement should grow alongside it.
What ’ s better than fans and followers and engagement? TRAFFIC. Acquisition metrics are where we gauge a brand ’ s ability to turn engagement into action. They know us, they like us. Now can we get them onto the site? What we ’ re trying to figure out is How much traffic is social media bringing us and What are socially engaged visitors doing on site? Google Analytics
Social visits: How much traffic does social media bring to your site? How much does each specific network bring? Percentage: What portion of the overall traffic is coming from a social source? as compared to search traffic or traffic referred by other sources.
To find this in GA, we ’ re going to be looking for referral traffic. In the top referrals tab under traffic, you ’ ll see social media sources mixed in with all your other sources. In the Network referrals section, you ’ ll see social traffic separated out from all the other traffic.
So you used to have to work really hard to make Google understand where traffic was coming from, but these days Google is really good at figuring out which traffic is social media traffic. I pulled this screenshot from a side project at Raven. Can see GA has found all the usual suspects but also some more obscure ones. In your social referrals, you ’ ll see a list like this automatically--you don ’ t have to do anything except start studying it for patterns.
So this is the flip side of that page with all your traffic sources. You can sort by all these tabs, so you ’ re going to be able to get some great insights from this area. What social networks are holding your audience ’ s engagement and moving them further down into the sales process? Which networks aren ’ t?
Helps us answer this question. What are these socially engaged visitors up to on your site? Are they getting all engrossed in your content or wandering off? Frequency: Is social media bringing you new visitors or return visitors? Duration: How long are they staying in seconds and minutes? Pages: How deep into the site are they going? Bounce rate: Did they go just to the page they clicked on from a social post and then leave (a bounce), or did they stick around? To make sense of these, again you have to know what behavior you WANT
Getting people to do what you want them to do. A conversion can be a sale, but it can also be tons of other actions. Signing up for a trial, renewing a membership, subscribing to a newsletter, liking a page on Facebook and downloading software can all be conversions if you want. You have to know what actions you want based on your business goals
Anything you can make into a goal in GA can be a conversion. Measure engagement with duration & page goals (how long are they spending? How deep into the site are they going?). Measure actions with event goals – did they do a specific thing you want them to, like fill out a form or watch a video? Measure their path with destination goals – did they get to a specific page you wanted them to? You can have up to 20 goals per profile in Google Analytics. microconversions
Making goals isn ’ t hard, but it helps to have a step-by-step walkthrough. You would think that Google would give you lots of good resources about this, and they do try. But they tweak things in GA so often that it can be hard to find what you ’ re looking for. These are the best resources I ’ ve found on getting started with goals, none from Google but all from really smart, reputable people. Only caveat is once you make a goal, you can ’ t delete it--you can only turn it off. So if you go in and make a ton, it could get confusing. Test site like a personal blog.
And because we ’ re pretty serious about measurement at Raven, we created a free tool called GAConfig to help people set up GA and create some of the trickier goals in GA.
Where we ’ re going to be living for this chunk of metrics is in the Overview and Conversions section of Social, under Traffic Sources. Overview is going to give us some pretty graphs that are really easy to understand; conversion is where you ’ ll want to go to dig in on those numbers and report them.
GA calculates 2 different types of social media conversions and then rolls them up into this big category of contributed conversions. So in this example, there were 507 total conversions on my site for this reporting period, and social had something to do with 93 of them. That ’ s the big number you need to know.
Let ’ s break it down further: assisted and last-click. Let ’ s think about the path of a visitor. It ’ s not all that common for someone to see a social media post, click a link and purchase something right away. Normally you ’ re going to click around a little, search for reviews, maybe bookmark it. So when social media is the entryway for someone to find out about you and they LATER convert, that ’ s an assisted conversion. If I were to click the link and immediately buy the product straight from social, that ’ s a last-click conversion. It ’ s a little more rare
What are these conversions worth? Any goal you can create, you can also give it a value in dollars. So if you sell stuff online, you can assign an average price value to your conversion. And if you help people online, you can assign that dollar value as your average customer service savings that we talked about earlier.
Social media can ’ t be measured in a vacuum, so it ’ s important to know what percentage of ALL the conversions on your site are coming from social media as compared to search traffic, advertising, etc. Measuring social media conversions as a percentage of overall conversions helps us know what we contribute to the bottom line and how our campaigns are faring
Did you guys know you can share GA dashboards? So if you go to, you ’ ll be taken to a custom social media dashboard that includes some of the metrics that I ’ ve talked about and tons of other cool stuff that will be useful for anyone who ’ s working in measurement in social media. Justin Cutroni at Google but it ’ s a nice way to get started and see some of the possibilities.
Whew. So that was a lot of metrics. Should you measure all of them? No. Do I measure all of them? No, that sounds terrible. But the point of all this is to pick the metrics that make sense for your business and your goals. And then don ’ t be afraid to go after them. Once you know what you want, metrics aren ’ t scary.
And once again, if you missed any of the details on any of these metrics or want to see them broken down into greater detail, I wrote a guide that gives you tons of specifics, extra questions, resources.
Measure It! Social media metrics made simple
Measure It!(a.k.a. “Is this really working?”)@RavenCourtney
ReachFacebook: Weekly Total Reach or “saw this post”Twitter: Total followers + Total followers of those who retweetedyour postsGoogle Plus: Total number of those who have you in a circle+ totalnumber of circles of everyone who shared your contentLinkedIn: Total impressionsPinterest: Daily average reach@RavenCourtney
Audience growth rateFacebook: New fans ÷ total fansTwitter: New followers ÷ total followersGoogle Plus: Newly added to Circles ÷ have you in CirclesLinkedIn: New followers of company page ÷ total followers ofcompany pagePinterest: New followers ÷ total followers@RavenCourtney
Applause rateFacebook: Total number of likes ÷ total postsTwitter: Total number of favorites ÷ total postsGoogle Plus: Total number of +1s ÷ total postsLinkedIn: Total number of likes ÷ total postsPinterest: Total number of favorites ÷ total pins@RavenCourtney
Conversation rate@RavenCourtneyFacebook: Total number of comments ÷ total postsTwitter: Total number of mentions ÷ total postsGoogle Plus: Total number of comments ÷ total postsLinkedIn: Total number of comments ÷ total postsPinterest: Total number of comments ÷ total pins
Amplification rateFacebook: Total number of shares ÷ total postsTwitter: Total number of retweets ÷ total postsGoogle Plus: Total number of shares ÷ total postsLinkedIn: Total number of shares ÷ total postsPinterest: Total number of repins ÷ total pins@RavenCourtney
Engagement rateFacebook: People Talking About This ÷ total fansTwitter: Favorites + mentions + retweets ÷ total followersGoogle Plus: +1s + comments + shares ÷ total followersLinkedIn: Likes + comments + shares ÷ total followersPinterest: Likes + comments + repins ÷ total followers@RavenCourtney
Conversions=goals•Duration goals: Spending more than 3 minutes on site•Pages/visit goals: Visiting more than 5 pages on site•Event goals: Watching a video, completing a form, downloadinga guide•Destination goals: Visiting a thank-you page or other specificpage@RavenCourtney