social media how toHow do you measure and manage your social media marketing?

Most marketers and website owners are familiar with the classic Peter Drucker phrase, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

So, how do you know what to measure to get the most out of your social media marketing for your business?

Here’s what you need to measure to know how well your social campaigns are performing.

Metric #1: Share of Voice

You may already be tracking the brand mentions on social media websites, as well as whether those mentions are positive, negative or neutral. And this gives you some useful feedback about your social outreach efforts.

But how would you to know how your company is doing compared to the available market?

You can take things to the next level when you measure the share of voice (SOV).

Your website’s SOV measurement helps you discover what percentage of mentions within your industry goes to your brand—and what percentage goes to your competitors.

Fortunately, there’s Social Mention, a free tool to help you measure and compare your company’s mentions to your competitors’.

number of mentions

This screenshot shows the number of mentions that exist for the phrase “social media examiner.”

Here’s how to see why this measurement is important. Imagine you track only the number of times your brand was mentioned on Twitter. As the result of your social media marketing efforts, you see this number go from 10 mentions per day to 20.

On the surface, this might seem like a win, but what happens if the total number of brand mentions across all of your competitors is closer to 1,000 per day?

Now you realize you’re only receiving a drop in the bucket of brand mentions in your niche. This highlights both the number of potential customers who have yet to be exposed to your brand and how far you have to go in terms of overall market penetration.

To calculate SOV, conduct a search for each of your competitors and then divide your company’s number of mentions by the total number of mentions in your market.

Metric #2: Referral Traffic

It’s one thing to build up a thriving social community on sites like Twitter and Facebook. But it’s another thing entirely to entice these visitors to leave their social spaces and head back to your company’s website.

Good social media marketing campaigns aim to increase on-site website results. So it’s only natural that measuring the amount of referral traffic sent by social sites should have a place in the savvy marketer’s tool chest.

Fortunately, Google Analytics makes this process easy. To view the amount of referral traffic your website receives from social networking sites, log into your account and navigate to the Referrals section found on the Traffic Sources menu.

From there, you’ll be able to view the social sites that send you the most referral traffic, as well as the relative bounce rate, average time on site and pages viewed per visit of each social site’s visitor base.

linkedin social traffic

In this example, LinkedIn provides the most social traffic, compared to Twitter ( and Facebook.

You’ll want to pay special attention to the traffic metrics from your social sites. They may show you significant differences in the performance of one social network versus another.

If, for example, you see that your Twitter visitors have a significantly higher bounce rate than readers who arrive on your site from Facebook, you might decide to allocate more of your marketing time and budget to connecting with followers on Facebook.

Metric #3: Conversion Rate

Finally, here’s the most important social media metric—conversion rates!

This is the metric that tells you what’s working for your business.

And this assumes that you’re utilizing social networking sites in order to generate some type of measurable activity on your company’s website, whether these activities (or conversions) occur as product sales, newsletter signups, lead generation form completions or other action.

If this is the case, it’s important to ensure that you aren’t spending time on social media marketing if the referral traffic you’re able to procure from these sources doesn’t ultimately convert on your home site!

To measure conversions, you’ll need to set up two elements within Google Analytics: Goals and Advanced Traffic Segments.

  • Google Analytics Goals enable you to determine when a specific action occurs on your website. There are four default types of Goals made available within Google Analytics, though these can be customized to measure any of the conversion activities described above. For more information on setting up Goals, check out Google’s help documentation on the subject.
    sample goal measure

    This sample Goal measures the number of website visitors who visit at least three pages on the site.

  • In addition, Advanced Traffic Segments allow you to break out your analytics data by individual traffic source. As an example, by creating a segment that looks at the on-site activities of your Facebook visitors, you can split up your Goals data to determine which social sites are sending you the most eventual conversions.
    conversion data

    The conversion data pictured above has been filtered with an Advanced Traffic Segment that measures the number of conversions that occurred from LinkedIn visitors.

At least once a month, take the time to measure the number of conversions generated on your site by visitors from different social media websites.

You can then use this information to allocate future marketing resources according to the social sites that provide the biggest impact on your website’s bottom line.

By taking these measurements and adjusting your social media campaigns, you’ll ultimately ensure that your social media investment will bring more value to your business.

What do you think? What tools are you using to measure your social media websites? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Excellent post! Thank you.

    Some months ago I discovered a tool called Agora Pulse, which basically benchmarks your Facebook Page performance vs. those of your competitors (or vs. industry standards via the Agora Pulse Barometer) which I find quite useful to track brand sentiment. Problem is, it works only on Facebook. However and considering Facebook is for most companies one of the main pillars of their Digital Strategy, I still think it’s worth a try (I do not work for them, nor I receive any benefits from Agora Pulse)

    I was not aware of Social Mention, but will certainly give it a go. Thanks for the heads up.

  • I like the part about Share of Voice. But how can you make this more actionable for the brand? How can a brand, knowing its share of voice, devise a plan to increase this share? Even more fundamentally, is this share of voice really that important if the size (and hence volume) of the industry is growing?

  • NIcely done post.
    I didn’t know about the “Advanced Traffic Segments”. I will look into it.


  • AJ, great post! Share-of-Voice is something that we don’t talk a lot about in conversations about social metrics, but it’s SO important –especially considering it’s a metric that can be understood by everyone in the marketing department, regardless of their actual familiarity with social media/social strategy.

    In writing for my company uberVU’s blog, we frequently post “face offs” between various brands and consider share-of-voice one of the most important metrics in finding a winner. (Here is an example: In a world where influencer campaigns are a major marketing strategy as well, I’d also say that “share of exposure” or “share of impressions” could be important metrics, too.

  • Jeff Skal

    We use Radian6 to pull Share of Voice and Sentiment reports across the social media space for our clients. It works fairly well across multiple media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, etc.), but does have some limitations when it comes to Facebook due to Facebook’s privacy policies.

    Someone also brought NuviApp to my attention recently as well. It looks like it does sentiment monitoring in real-time, and may be worth a look too. Especially if you’re more of a visual person.

    I hope this helps anyone looking for more in-depth social monitoring tools!

  • Awesome post AJ! I’ve tried out several tools mentioned on SME in the past and I will certainly check out Social Mention to measure my brand’s share of voice. Thanks for sharing!

    Keep the fire burnin!

    ~John Lee Dumas

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  • I love using Social Mentions. I put my hashtags into and see how it does on the whole social media networks as a whole

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  • Dara Khajavi

    Thanks for this post! Sometimes I doubt my business’ social media presence. These metrics should help me better see how my business is doing.

  • Sarah Bauer

    Handy post!

    I really like #2 because it underlines the value of an agile social media strategy, one which adapts to where the targeted audience is, even if this changes frequently, and is prepared to meet the demands of new platforms and audience preferences.

    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

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  • Because we’re eCommerce we focus on conversion. Ad words overall ROI has diminished for us as costs have risen so we’re looking closely for the best ROI for our ad money. We just ran a conversion comparison on 90 days of ad spend comparing Google shopping vs Facebook. Proved to be very interesting – Facebook orders were 1/2 the size of Google orders but Facebook converted more than double that of Google Shopping with a slightly lower CPA and 25% more orders for a 10% cost higher than Google . The exercise was a real eye opener

  • RavenCourtney

    Great post as usual, AJ! I do have a question for you, though. Must one define social networks via Advanced Traffic Segments in order to see social media conversions? I can see many social sources I *haven’t* put into an advanced segment through the path Traffic Sources > Social > Conversions (assuming goals are set up). It seems like Google Analytics doing more of this work for us now (or someone smarter than me has been messing with my account).

  • Getting peeps to your website isn’t a goal in its own right IMHO. A mention or an impression is little different – valuable but difficult to quantify. A conversion is really only useful if you can put a monetary value on it. AJ, you get my vote for share of voice but I’d like to see something more useful in the other two. Don’t have the answer to that little problem though!

  • RavenCourtney

    A suggestion: If you calculate share of voice as a percentage of your overall industry, it becomes more meaningful and takes into account overall industry growth.

    Divide your brand’s mentions by total industry mentions:

    Your brand mentions ÷ Total industry mentions (Your brand + competitors A,B,C, etc.)

    Multiply by 100 to report as a percentage.

  • Good post with some good reference to tools!

    Of course with any marketing channel determining your goal is critical, then finding the tools that will facilitate that measurement with the least pain and resistance, the better.

    We encourage clients to always begin with the end in mind an although conversion is critical (we totally agree) often social can have a stronger supporting role than a final touch conversion. So I would add be sure to monitor “assisted conversions” within analytics as well.
    In fact a custom grouping channel will make this easy to monitor and drill into the data nicely.


  • Nicki Escudero

    Awesome post, AJ! Thanks so much for sharing such great tips!

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  • Glad you enjoyed it, Sarah. You’re right – agility is the key to good social media strategy. Things change all the time, but unless you’re paying attention to key metrics, it’s easy to miss important shifts in how your target audience is engaging online.

  • Thanks for the suggestions. There are plenty of great social media monitoring tools out there, depending on the features you’re looking for and what you’re able to spend. These are all worth a look.

  • Thanks Nicki – glad you found the tips useful.

  • Absolutely agree. Conversions aren’t the only type of social media goal that can and should be tracked – they’re just the one I focused on with this article. Hopefully readers can adapt this process to tracking other important metrics as well.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Definitely agree that mentions and impressions (and plenty of other social media dynamics) have value – it’s just that writing an article that covers monitoring all of these different metrics would probably wind up like more of an ebook 🙂 Hopefully readers can use the basic processes described above to identify the metrics that matter most to their businesses and put tracking solutions into place to ensure that their social campaigns are providing real value for the time required.

  • GA has definitely improved its social tracking features, although I still like that Advanced Segments make it possible to be as granular as you want to be. Glad to hear you’re finding the new social features useful!

  • That’s fascinating. Good for you for undertaking that kind of evaluation – I’m sure the data will prove helpful when it comes to adapting your future marketing strategy!

  • Great – glad to hear it!

  • Social Mentions is definitely a fun tool – glad to hear it’s been useful for you.

  • Thanks much! I’m sure you’ll find Social Mention useful.

  • Very cool concept with the SOV face-offs – interesting stuff. Definitely agree that share of exposure/impressions would provide valuable feedback as well. That’d be a great place to expand social media metrics tracking after implementing the three types described above.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks! Advanced Segments are really fun to play with, and I’m sure you’ll find them useful for measuring all different types of web analytics information.

  • SOV pits your brand against your competitors, so knowing the relative volume of traffic your site receives versus theirs is hugely important – whether your industry is growing, shrinking or staying the same.

    As for expanding your SOV, identifying ways that your competitors are building exposure can uncover opportunities for your brand. For example, if you see your competitors using hashtags that you aren’t or focusing on social platforms where you aren’t active, you could emulate their engagement to boost your own SOV.

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  • treb072410

    Great post!! Thanks for sharing..

  • DigitalDionne

    Good social media marketing campaigns aim to increase on-site website results. <<< YES, YES and YES.

    I continue to be amazed by how many social media "experts" seem to be solely focused on writing tweets/FB statuses, counting likes and calling that progress.

    I even have heard the constant complaint that there is no way of measuring ROI in social – very confusing to me, since you can clearly see things in GA.

  • Colleen Wallace

    Just tried to set up an alert with Social Mention and it said it is currently disabled for a week? Maybe this article overloaded them with people signing up alerts lol. Will try back in a week! Nice article, will definitely use the analytics advice!

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  • Busanaku Murah


  • Hey Kumar,

    Thanks for your actionable advice for expanding SOV.

    Are there any other uses for SOV, aside from pitting it against your competitors to know where you stand?

  • Hi Raven,

    What I meant was, how do you know whether a figure/percentage is good or not? I mean, if you have no growth in %, but real growth in traffic because of the increase in industry, how do you decide?

  • Hi Dionne,

    I think the confusion over measuring ROI in social comes from deciding WHAT you want to improve. Website traffic? Revenue? Lead generation? Some of these can be tracked more easily; some are harder, and some say that a few are impossible. However, I think we’re all heading in the right direction. We know that we have to track our social media investments. We know that social media marketing is more advantages than traditional means because there’s clearer ways to track the ROI. And more importantly, because of these shift in importance towards measuring, more people and investments are poured in this direction to improve software so that one day we might just be able to track everything we want to.

    Having said that, about writing tweets/FB statuses, some could be talking about writing good compelling copies that help to generate website traffic. As you suspect, these are pretty short-term solutions because they don’t directly impact the product. But as we measure other metrics, like click through rates VS bounce rates, certain things become clearer to us. If we’ve very high click through rates and high bounce rates, clearly something is wrong with our article or with the way we wrote our copy – people are not getting the value they want. So we get indirect feedback through such data and figure out what to improve on.

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  • annarose

    Can I get some advice, what’s better social media or web traffic? My website gets good organic traffic, but I keep getting declined from PR agencies to cover events because our social media isn’t strong. Some of our competitors have thousands of more fb likes and Twitter followers, but our traffic is dramatically higher, but the others get the events and we don’t, why?

  • RavenCourtney

    Well, since traffic to your site doesn’t really factor into the share of voice metric, I would say calculate both share of voice and traffic separately but compare to one another and compare over time. Once you get a baseline for each, you can see whether there’s a pattern of higher share of voice equalling higher traffic.

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  • It is important to measure performance to know whether the activities and efforts made are effective or not, actions which are not effective must be stopped immediately.

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  • AJ this is a great post. We will definitely be adding the use of advanced traffic segments. We use kiss metrics to get rich profiles of the visitors who convert and better understand where they came from and all the events they do before the conversion. Its incredible to see that while only 3-10% of content visitors convert right away, 20-30% of social traffic visitors eventually converts. We are also using google analytics events coupled with search terms, blog pages, and referral paths to understand the content that converts, and lastly, we analyze the hash tags on tweets that get clicks to 3rd party content to understand the content that engages. For us in the B2B IT services market with long complex sales cycles, measuring ‘soft conversions’ has been a big win – for this we measure what content and sources convert traffic from consuming content to “clicking through to learn more about the clients services”. The insights and feedback to the overall content and marketing strategy are incredibly valuable.

  • Thomas Outt

    This might be useful even if one is not in a business per se, just to let us (as writers doing this as a hobby) know where we are being seen/read-and promote improvements in the weaker areas, or drop them & concentrate on the areas of strength.

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  • Advanced Segments are really interesting and can be tweaked for your market.Thanks for an awesome resource AJ!

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  • Eleanor Bennett

    Really useful article. I was brought here from the IDM