social media how toAre you looking for simple, straightforward metrics to measure the impact of your social media efforts?

Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ time online (accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet) according to a recent Nielsen report on social media, .

While we all know how important it is to market through the various social networks, it is vital to track and measure your efforts for success.

Here are five simple metrics to find out whether your social media effort is paying dividends.

#1: Examine Referring Traffic

Google Analytics is a fantastic way to measure how much traffic is being referred to your website from the various social channels.

Under the Traffic Sources tab, click on Referring Sites and then type in your social network of choice to see how much traffic is being referred. Set up goals based on the actions you want your visitors to complete.

Quick Tip: For Twitter referrals, search both Twitter and, which is the built-in Twitter link shortener.

traffic sources

Increasing referral traffic from social sites is a good indicator that your social efforts are moving the needle in the right direction.

#2: Review the Quality and Relevance of Content

Content is the fuel for your social media engine, but if it’s not relevant and useful, it’s a waste of digital space.

The correct way to assess the value of a piece of content is not by continuously checking every five minutes to see if your retweet count goes up or if someone comments on your blog. These “vanity metrics” give a false sense of hope that your content is generating leads for your brand or business.

Instead of judging the success of your content by the feel-good double-digit share button, pull back the curtain and see what’s really going on.

For each piece of content you create, monitor unique page views, time on page and total pages viewed. If unique page views go up, that’s an indication that your reach is growing, increased time on page shows that your content is interesting to the visitor and increased total page views means your visitor wants to learn more by clicking on other pages around your site.

You can easily track these three mentions within Google Analytics by clicking on the Content tab, then choosing Overview. This will give you a snapshot of your top pieces of content along with detailed metrics including page views, unique page views and time on page. Drilling down into your content with Google Analytics is a great way to determine which content is resonating with your audience.

#3: Look at Share of Voice

With social media, share of voice refers to the number of conversations about your company versus your competitors/market. The value of online customer and prospect interaction can be tied to the share of voice (SOV) metric, which I like to call “The Big Picture Show.”

Segment brand mentions by social channel to uncover opportunities for improvement. You may find that your efforts on one particular channel are going unnoticed, but excelling on another channel.

The formula for calculating SOV is simple: divide the number of conversations or mentions of your brand by total number of conversations or mentions about other brands in your market.

To get your total number of conversations you can use a free tool such as SocialMention or if you have the budget, a more robust tool such as Radian6 has a widget that can calculate this metric for you.

Share of Voice = Your Mentions / (Total Mentions for Competitive Companies/Brands)

share of voice

Share of voice: the number of conversations about your brand versus your competitors/market.

#4: Track the Total Size of Community and Engagement

Measuring and tracking the size of your collective communities is essential in determining whether you are adding value through your social strategy. Using a social CRM tool is a great way to integrate customer data with social profiles and interactions while monitoring growth and engagement levels.

Social CRM tools such as Sprout Social aggregate your activity into one easy-to-view dashboard where you can quickly see whether your strategy is moving in the right direction. Sprout offers a pretty good view of your basic metrics, including engagement and total size, and even goes a step further with recommendations for influencers to focus on.

sprout social

Social CRM tools are an easy way to manage and track your profiles and activity all in one place.

#5: Measure Sentiment

Sentiment analysis is imperfect at best, often ignoring the human element of sarcasm or simple context. To be completely accurate, you need to track this manually.

Go through your mentions and tag them as positive, neutral or negative. Add up the totals and measure over time. Are the good mentions growing and the negative mentions decreasing?


Sentiment analysis can be thought of as "opinion mining."

Track Your Social Media Return on Effort

The social metrics used to determine success are the ones that make sense for your business and that you can tie back to your marketing bottom line.

Building a simple dashboard manually or using a social CRM tool as mentioned above is an easy way to track and update these metrics on a weekly or monthly basis. You can then monitor trends and set goals for growth based on what’s working.

If your metrics are not moving in the right direction or seem to be stalled, try mixing up your messaging and experimenting with different posting times and frequency.

What do you think? Does your business measure ROE? Which metrics are most important to your social strategy? Join the conversation and leave your questions and comments below.

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  • Jenn Seeley

    Great list, Jason! Tracking and measurement are so important in social media strategies. How else will we understand if our efforts are effective? Thanks for these simple tips and suggestions.

    Jenn Seeley – Community Engagement, Radian6

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  • Jason Miller

    Hi Jenn, 

    I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for the comment. 


  • Mylene Labrie

    Great content!

  • Peter Elmhirst

    nice post thanks. Another great tracking method that I use on everything now is the Addthis analytics which automatically tags urls that are shared from your website (through their service) then it displays the number of shares on each service, how many people clicked through on them, etc.

  • Jason Miller

    Hi Peter, 

    Thanks for the comment! Very good point as well. Addthis has some nice analytics for a deeper dive into your content sharing stats. I think it’s vital to integrate the Addthis data into Google Analtyics to keep everything in one place while making all the data much easier to digest. Nice insights! 


  • Kimberly A. Kline

    Thanks for the article!  Great way to outline some fairly easy ways to determine what we are doing is productive.  It is appreciated!

  • Brit at Sprout Social

    Excellent article, Jason! Measuring and reviewing your company’s social media metrics is key to having a successful social strategy. Appreciate the mention of Sprout Social as well! 

    Brittany Thompson
    Social Marketing Manager at Sprout Social

  • Toothy Grins

    Good point on google analytics I did not know you couls use it to monitor each peice of content,  that’s cool and good info to have.  Thanks 

  • Ruth

    Some great tips. I only recently discovered that you can measure social media activity through Google Analytics which was a great find. It’s important to track and measure your social media efforts otherwise how do you know what’s working and what changes you should make to keep things on track?

  • Rajan C

     Nice post to get to know the effectiveness of social media with measurable metrics. Thank you Jason!


  • Seven Day Course

    I would like to add one more piece to the content over here and that’s Klout score. Klout is a cool tool for measuring the influence. I suggest you add twitter, facebook and google+ to the account and run your social media campaign.

  • Audrey Abbey

    Very useful tips, tracking of social media is important by means of Google Analytics  we can easily monitor the percentage of clicks from social media sites.

  • Jason Savage

    Great piece Jason and why Vocus has just launched their new Marketing Suite which brings in all of these metrics into one dashboard, along with recommendations for increased growth, Facebook applications and publicity alerts through HARO. 

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  • Mike Gomez

    Good post Jason,

    For the social referrals, Analytics now has a social hub. Whereas before you could only see social interactions (tweet button, facebook like etc) with some additional Analytics mark-up,  you can now more accurately measure social referrals and see what impact they had on your traffic and bottom line figures.

    So where you’ve highlighted the “Referrals” report link in your screenshot, you’ll see “Social” at the bottom of  that menu. All the new juicy information is in there :)


  • Bhuvan

    Gr8 article….

  • Jason Miller

    Glad you found it to be helpful! Thanks for the comment!

  • Jason Miller

    Hi Ruth, 

    Well said! Thanks for the comment. 


  • Jason Miller

    Thanks Rajan!

  • Jason Miller

    Thanks for the comment. Klout and Kred are both good indicators of your influence and reach but it’s difficult to tie some of their metrics directly back to your strategy, especially in regards to content. 

  • Jason Miller

    Thanks for the comment Audrey. GA is so often overlooked!

  • Jason Miller

    Sounds interesting. I would love to see that in action. Thanks for the comment. 

  • Jason Miller

    Thanks for the comment Mike. I am aware of the Social button in GA, but I tend to focus more on referral traffic using GA and track interactions and engagement inside of Marketo. Since I focus on social for lead gen, it’s much easier for me to track my campaigns this way. 

  • Drew Sollberger

    Good stuff, Jason. We run across many firms who like to focus on friends, fans, and followers. It’s always good to bring them back to real engagement metrics like the ones you’ve shared here. Thanks for the great summary. 

  • Jason Miller

    Hey Drew! 

    Thanks for the comment! Big fan of what you guys are doing over at SocialWare! 


  • Guy R Cook

    Thanks for taking the time Jason, great list of resources for social media tracking.

  • Art Sarno

    Track sentiment by hand????

     Not all all practical for large volumes of data with multiple sources that can ramp transactions to the tens of thousanda and even millions. Automated sentiment analysis as found in products such as Infegy can provide critical filtering (demographics, language, gender, media source, etc.) to isolate sentiment around topics of interest. Users can then determine relative sentiment.

  • Robert Madison

    It’s also a good idea to track certain words over time. Key words or phrases that are important to the company/brand. Just so you can see whether “quality” (for example) is hanging around the top-10, or is headed in a more southerly direction. Another thing that can be helpful is to track those words by the category they’re in. That is, the language in the News may be negative (and usually is), but the language on Twitter may be much more moderate, or even favorable about the same “newsworthy” event. Or not.

    Anyway, good list, and good post!

  • Jason Miller

    Hi Art,

    If you are Coke, Pepsi, Nike, or another enormous brand or company then yes, you need an automated tool for sentiment. For the rest of us, it’s not difficult to do this manually as sentiment analysis is imperfect at best when using a tool. The important part of this is to make sure you are looking at trends and that your brands sentiment is moving in the right direction. 
    Thanks for the comment. 

  • Jason Miller

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the insights, great tips as well. I appreciate your chiming in!


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  • Anthony Trollope

    Jason, this is probably more suitable for another post but what other KPI’s do you generally track besides traffic referrals via Google Analytics?

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  • Dorothy

    This is going to the top of my Social Media bookmark folder. Thanks!

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  • Jason Miller

    Hi Anthony, 

    I use GA to track referring traffic, time on page, bounce rate, and unique visitors. Those are leading indicators for me to judge whether or not my content strategy is working. For lead gen I track original source and new names, prospects, and cost per prospect within Marketo. 


  • KeanCole

    Very informative. Thank you!

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  • sstass

    Hi Jason!

    I am community manager at russian social media monitoring service’ve done really great job in this post and we want ask your permision to translate it into russian and repost to our blog.Certainly we will link to you as author of the original one. 


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  • Farrah Collins

    You guys hear of ?

  • Jon West

    For retailers wanting to measure the ROI of social sharing, I think we’ve built the best solution (slightly biased…):

    Jason — interested to hear your thoughts.

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  • David Wong

    Great article. Among the many useful metrics from Google Analytics, I find it very useful to see my top visited pages. With that information, I can attempt to add more similar pages to yield attraction.

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  • Santosh Shetty

    Analytics is th best tool to track your all social media efforts :) 

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  • melissa

    information, it is really helpful, your describe method in a simple way for all.
    Thank you.

  • Dirk

    i manage a couple of pages for the place i work for. we launched a small competition and people need to share the posts in order to win. is there ANY WAY whatsoever to just see who shared the posts? I cant seem to get a working answer from anyone! Please help!!!

  • Priyanka Sharma

    Measuring ones impact and success on social media is becoming important . One needs to measure effectiveness of his brand or organization to meet out cut throat competition. The five points mentioned in this article are good enough to measure social media efforts.The four basic metrics can be Reach , Sentiment , Activity , Engagement . I use a management tool , Sociota which prepares report based on theses four factors.