6 Social Media Success Metrics You Need to Track

social media how toPeople who say social media isn’t measurable aren’t looking very hard.

The truth is there are dozens of viable metrics you can use to gauge the success of your social media efforts. The challenge isn’t measurability; it’s knowing which measures are meaningful.

Here are the 6 undervalued social media success metrics you should be tracking:

#1: Daily Story Feedback

Instead of just counting the number of Facebook “likes” you accrue, which signifies nothing more than digital bumper-stickering, track how often your fans click “like” and comment on the status updates you post.

The more fans who click “like” and comment, the more likely your future updates will be seen in their news feed, dramatically increasing your actual Facebook audience.

If you’re an administrator of a Facebook fan page, you can find the Daily Story Feedback chart at http://facebook.com/insights (look in the Interactions category).

#2: Look at Klout

Rather than paying rapt attention to the number of Twitter followers you’ve corralled, instead look closely at your Klout score.

Klout is an online influence gauge that combines several data points (followers, retweets, clicks on links, etc.) and then applies some fancy algorithmic voodoo to arrive at a unified metric.

The data used to calculate Klout continues to change (they recently added Facebook information), but I’ve found it to be the most reliable influence-tracking metric, because it’s nearly impossible to “game” using automated follow-back programs and other Twitter nefariousness.

klout

Klout’s scoreboard for Social Media Examiner founder Mike Stelzner is 73 (on a 1-100 scale).

#3: PostRank

One of the challenges of writing a blog is knowing how to value the wide variety of reader engagements and behaviors. Should you care more about Digg submission than about comments? Are tweets more important than Facebook shares?

PostRank Analytics solves this problem.

It’s free if you connect with their “influencers” outreach program or $15/month if you don’t. PostRank provides a useful, detailed blogging scoreboard, especially if you connect it with your Google Analytics account.

The best part of PostRank Analytics is the engagement score, which is sort of your Klout score for each blog post. The system looks at total comments, tweets, shares, etc. for each post and applies behavior points and an algorithm to determine the total score. This is a fantastic way to look at your last 25 blog posts to see which type of content you’re publishing generates the most engagement. The image below is a recent post on Convince & Convert .

postrank

PostRank Analytics shows “engagement points” broken down by audience action.

#4: Share of Voice

Tracking how often your company and/or its products are mentioned on the social web is a best practice, of course. But without also paying attention to how often your competitors are referenced, it’s difficult to determine whether the chatter about your brand is significant.

To add a reference point to your social mention tracking, create a “share of voice” report.

To do so, determine the number of times your company and its products are mentioned on the social web in a neutral or positive context over a 30-day period. You’ll want to use Radian6, ViralHeat, Social Mention or any of the other social listening tools for this project. Then determine how often your competitors are mentioned (neutral or positive) during the same 30 days.

Add up all mentions for the category (you plus your competitors), and then divide your mentions by the total to calculate your “share of voice”—which is always a percentage. Usually, share of voice reports are formatted as a pie chart, so you can easily see how you fare versus your competition.

#5: Search Volume

Perhaps more than any other marketing metric, the number of people who are searching for your brand on Google serves as a catch-all metric for market awareness.

In many ways, social media and your other marketing efforts create demand, which is then harvested via searches.

The tie between search and social media cannot be overestimated. Perhaps the best study on the subject, from GroupM in 2009, found that consumers exposed to a brand in social media are subsequently 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand than are consumers unexposed within social media.

Use Google Insights to examine whether searches for your company and products are increasing over time, and if your volume is going up, and your competitors’ isn’t – double bonus!

#6: Inbound Links

Without other sites linking to your website, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever crack the Top 10 in Google. Links are the coin of the realm in SEO, and without them all you have is a pile of carefully crafted words.

Social media is one of the best places to accrue links, because we social types are prone to link from our tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts, within blog comments, etc.

Track the number of links pointing to your website and/or blog, and examine the source of new links. How many links do you have, in comparison to your competitors? What sites are linking to them that perhaps you could get to link to you as well?

There are several inbound link-tracking services online. My favorite is Open Site Explorer from SEOmoz. The free version allows you to track and report on up to 1,000 links.

open site explorer

Open Site Explorer shows a total number of links (38,935!!) to Social Media Examiner that are coming from 826 separate websites.

If you’re looking for a magic number that automatically determines your social media prowess, you’re not going to find it. Instead, the secret to tracking social media is tying together disparate data sources and selecting the metrics that make the most sense for your company. And those are never the obvious ones like Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Tracking social media may not always be easy and fast, but it’s absolutely, 100% doable.

If you’re interested in more on this subject, my new book, The NOW Revolution (written with Amber Naslund) has an entire chapter devoted to metrics and how to pick the right ones.

What are your thoughts? Have you employed any of these metrics? Leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Jay Baer

Jay Baer is a hype-free, tequila-loving social media strategist, speaker, and coach. He's the author of Convince & Convert, one of the planet's most popular social media blogs. Other posts by »




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  • http://aremorch.com/ Are Morch

    Great article here Jay.

    Measuring my brand has become an important part of my Social Media Strategy this year. And I will use more effort on it next year. Might do a couple of things a little different.

    One question here though. At what time do you recommend Small Businesses to put emphasis on measure the various Social Metrics?

    I have seen some advices not to over focus on metrics the first year. Are there some basic metrics you will recommend to keep track off?

    Cheers… Are

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13803832 Nick Robinson

    Always love your analyses Jay. I actually got the “how do you measure social media?” question two days ago. My response was that really the processes and thinking haven’t changed, for example we used web analytics to gauge business success before social media, but there are new data points to look at now. So I guess you could say it is a hybrid system right now for web analytics people.

  • http://postrank.com PostRank

    Thanks for including us, Jay.

    For those with a competitive analysis need or interest, you can also include competitors in your PostRank Analytics sites and see how their content is doing with the audience, too. Perhaps a little sneaky, but all’s fair in love and measurement. :)

    Of course, you can only add in the external Google Analytics and Feedburner metrics for accounts you have access to, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a full 360-degree view of their content performance like you can with your own, but there’s still plenty to be gleaned.

    Or for those who just want at-a-glance info on how they’re stacking up in their field, there’s always our topics, e.g. http://www.postrank.com/topic/Social%20Media

    Cheers,

    Melanie
    melanie@postrank.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Zelenskaya/100000000488622 Anna Zelenskaya

    Hello Jay, thanks for the great article.
    Could you suggest a way to measure daily story feedback for posts older than say two weeks?
    The chart is only showing recent posts, and I’d like to be able to compare the interactions in the long run.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.techipedia.com/ tamar

    “because it’s nearly impossible to “game” using automated follow-back programs and other Twitter nefariousness.”

    …until you read studies like this: http://wallblog.co.uk/2010/12/06/can-you-become-influential-on-twitter-merely-by-tweeting-a-lot/

    I really like Klout, but something’s sketchy when you get results that clearly show gaming works.

  • http://mai.do/ Gabriele Maidecchi

    I personally love analyzing Postrank’s daily reports when I promptly get them in my email, they are very simple to read and take into account a lot of factors to show you the general trend of the information you’re keeping track of.
    I’ve been using Klout too for a while, but I am still not sure wether is something necessary to keep track of or just another number one shouldn’t focus too much around.

  • http://www.delovelyaffair.blogspot.com Mellissa

    Jay, great article and quite timely! I am currently in a debate with colleagues over the idea that the number of “LIKES” is not indicative of quality interactions. I makes less sense to build up that number if the LIKES do nothing to boost our image. Thanks again for the reminder!

  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    Jay..nice info bro..inbound links is and are very important..one thing I tell people is to spend one hr a day building links and they will see signs of improvement in a couple weeks or so.

    Open site explore is new to me, but I think its time to add it to my collection.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://eworksofficeservices.com Liz Urichuk

    Thanks Jay! What a great article. So full of useful tips and information I can implement today.

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  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Tamar! Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Ideally, I would start to focus on metrics before you spend even one minute on social media. What gets measured, gets done.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    It’s absolutely a hybrid. That’s what makes it hard. You have to stitch together a variety of data points from disparate sources to create a mathematical narrative that makes sense for YOUR business. That’s a lot harder than just looking at number of Twitter followers. It’s also a lot more useful.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Good tip. Thanks Melanie. Keep doing what you’re doing. I love you guys.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Great question. I don’t think that’s possible unless you are using some sort of Facebook management tool like Involver. Anyone else have an idea?

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    True. It ain’t perfect. But, it’s a lot harder to game than number of followers alone, which is the metric most often used to gauge Twitter success.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Looking at my Postrank stats has made me a better blogger. No question about it.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Likes is not a good success metric. Here’s a post I wrote about why that’s the case: http://bit.ly/crCw6o

  • coachclaire

    Interesting 6 metrics – thank you for sharing them. I’ve seen a few discussions about the pros and cons of using Klout recently, which I think shows how much people want to see not only their influence level, but a way to look at comparative companies or influencers in their niche.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Topher-Teck/100001205955825 Topher Teck

    This is an amazing article. I had no idea so much was involved with social networking. My brain just calculates it as a fun way to make some friends, and money. Will definately be checking out those sites to measure my online business saavy.

    Speaking of online business check out my ebay page —- http://cgi.ebay.com/SUPERAntiSpyware-Pro-Lifetime-License-Key-w-Updates-/230562066883?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35ae91f1c3

    Thx everyone, Happy Holidays!!

  • http://www.techipedia.com/ tamar

    I totally agree, Jay. My fear mostly is that it’s obvious that it can be gamed in another way — noise. If you tweet more, your Klout goes up. Or so it seems.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    But is that such a crazy thing? If Klout tracks influence, then the more you tweet the more clicks, RTs etc you are likely to receive. That’s not a linear equation, but there is a quality component (or should be). But, if you tweet more, you’ll get more clicks eventually. Therefore influence (as a measure of reach and ability to cause downstream action) should be impacted at some level by frequency, shouldn’t it? As long as it’s not ALL about frequency, I’m okay with that being a component.

    One gauge of Twitter success (not very scientific) is followers per tweet. How many followers do you have versus how many tweets have you sent. I invented (I think) that metric and wrote a post about it here: http://bit.ly/aoFqJH

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  • http://www.slice-works.com/ krabil57

    Jay, this is a great article with lots of good information. You’ve answered a lot of questions that I’ve been pondering. I know it’s fairly complicated. Yet I understand that it’s very important to have a good grasp of. I especially like your suggestion to track some of your competitors stats as well. I can see that would be just as useful and powerful as your own stats.

    Can you recommend a way to organize and keep track of this kind of information?

  • http://scrapsofmygeeklife.com scrappinmichele

    Thank you for pointing out several different metrics to follow. I just wrote a post today about using numbers as part of the big picture. I’ve added a link to this post as a resource for tracking your social media.

    http://scrapsofmygeeklife.com/social-media/klout-peerindex-big-picture/

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Hi Jay, thanks for this valuable content. In Holland we say “meten is weten”. This could be translated as “use metrics to know how effective you are”. Thanks :)

  • http://thebaochi.com/ Baochi Nguyen

    Great article. Thanks for the insights, Jay.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    I like Klout for comparison better than number of followers, that’s for sure.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    You bet. I recommend Swix (http://www.swixapp.com) for social media metrics tracking and scoreboarding. It’s an amazing tool. It’s a few dollars per month, but WELL worth it if you’re serious about tracking.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Thanks Michele. Great stuff!

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    I love it. I want a Meten is Weten T-shirt!

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Hey there B. Great to hear from you. Thanks for the comment.

  • Addoway, Inc

    Really great post Jay. Too bad you left AZ! I love Klout for comparisons as well.

  • Stephanie

    There’s an option on the Facebook Insights page to export data and it allows you to select a date range. I recently exported a report into Excel for the 3 months before changing our approach to Facebook and the 3 months after, to measure our success. The data is quite extensive.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Nice. Thanks Stephanie!

  • http://www.ivanmelvin.com/ Ivan Lim

    Great article! I really like the wide spread of different metrics, very comprehensive.

    Important to note though that Twitter links don’t quite give the same value as a regular link in terms of SEO. All links from twitter are No Follow (meaning Google doesn’t attribute them as Links that pass “juice”). But having said that Bing and Google did say recently that factors from twitter, facebook and other social media sites do play a part in how they determine if a page should be ranked higher up in the search results. =)

  • http://www.ivanmelvin.com/ Ivan Lim

    Open Site Explorer is an SEOMoz tool, i use it a lot! Really good… highly recommended. Should go check out their complete suite of SEO tools =)

  • http://crowdbooster.com/ Ricky Yean

    Nice! Jay when you were putting this together, what other measurements were you thinking about, and why did you not include them?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.simmel Bill Simmel

    Great

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.simmel Bill Simmel

    Great article, it is an absolute must read for those trying to calibrate ROI on their social media platforms.

  • Kelly

    What do you suggest for a company in terms of how often they should go and create reports/measure social media analytics. I am working for a start up internet company and have found your information on content strategy and social media metrics to be extremely helpful! Thanks

  • http://www.techresearch.co/ Chris Dowsett

    Businesses can also pull together their own version of a ‘Klout’ score by using services like the ones you mention. A specially developed score for a business helps them make their tracking relevant to their business, industry and their market on the web. As you say – there isn’t a magic answer but it’s 100% do-able if you have the right metrics-person.

    Nice post, Jay.

  • http://www.techresearch.co/ Chris Dowsett

    Kelly – hope you don’t mind me jumping but I work in social media analytics and I track all of our metrics daily. I set up the metrics to form an overall ‘social media index’ for our company that is tracked against sales and ROI. Although the index is updated each day, I report on the changes (good or bad) and the reasons for those changes each month. Hope that helps … would be happy to help with more information.

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  • http://offshoreally.com/virtual-assistant-services Marc Shaw

    Thanks for the great article, Jay. These tips and info is really useful for me. keep posting.

  • René Power

    Great Post Jay. Few things to check out over the festive break!

  • http://www.mobilecubix.com iPhone Application Developer

    Pay close attention to how many messages, wall posts, and other comments you’re getting in a month.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Zelenskaya/100000000488622 Anna Zelenskaya

    Awesome, thanks Stephanie! Too bad I could not export user interactions this way.

  • http://www.irisemedia.com iRISEmedia

    Oh, that’s just great.Social Media is here to stay and to have metrics is what we need to invest on them.

    http://www.irisemedia.com/blog/2010/12/16/social-media-news-%E2%80%93-toronto-the-world-december-16th-2010.html

  • Zipliner

    Very helpful information. I am very new to the social media world and find your posts the easiest to understand.

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  • http://www.software-download.in Subramanyamp7

    nice information keep up like this . its very successive info to people like me 

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  • http://www.dreampushers.com/ Business Ideas

    This is great. Social Media are very important to us to see what’s happening on the whole world.

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