How To Measure Social Media Success (for Beginners)


Measuring the impact of social media campaigns has always been difficult. In a world where people can learn about your business from a huge number of channels, social media tends to be overlooked in favor of mediums that have an easier to calculate ROI – like ads, email campaigns, or to a certain extent, SEO. While the exact ROI of your social media efforts might remain as elusive as the jackalope, there is plenty you can do to help determine if all that hard work is paying off.

To make things easier to digest, I’m going to break this down into three separate articles. Today, we will be discussing the basics to ensure we are all on the same page. Next week, we will look at various helpful tools, and in Part 3, we will cover some advanced Google Analytics techniques that can help assign real value to your campaign.

Set your goals

As with any marketing campaign, you should define your goals before kicking anything off. I’m not talking about general, ambiguous goals like “I want more followers.” I’m talking about precisely defined objectives like these:

  • Gain 100 new Twitter followers by the end of year.
  • Increase website traffic from LinkedIn by 20% in October.
  • Improve engagement on Facebook by 5% next month.

Well defined goals will help you in two ways. First, they help you develop the necessary strategies that will make them achievable. Secondly, when you ask yourself, “Did I meet my goal?”, the answer will be a crystal clear yes or no.

Followers, fans, connections, etc.

The first, and perhaps most obvious metric for measuring your success, is the number of followers you have gained on your social networks. Measuring this metric doesn’t take much work as the major networks make it very easy to see your follower total.

What isn’t easy is determining the quality of these followers. Are they actually interested in your product/services? Or did they only follow you in hopes that you would follow them back?

In a small way, the total number of followers does count for something. It’s cool to see your Facebook page hit 1,000 fans – or 10,000 fans for that matter. When people see that, they automatically start putting trust in your company (10,000 people can’t be wrong, right?), but in the end, follower count isn’t a great metric for calculating the ROI of a large campaign since the value of a follower can vary greatly between users.

Tip: Don’t look only at your total number of followers, but pay attention to the growth rate as well. If you see a big spike in growth, try to determine what caused it and then see if you can replicate it for even more followers.

Engagement metrics

While simply looking at the total number of followers or fans doesn’t necessarily mean much, how you interact with the followers can mean a whole lot. To help us measure the engagement level of your followers, I’m going to steal some metrics first theorized by Avinash Kaushik in a wonderful article that is definitely worth reading.

At first glance, the metrics might seem rather simple, but they cover every aspect of how you interact with your fans. And until some recently released tools became available, gathering all the necessary data to calculate these wasn’t all that easy.

Conversation Rate = # of comments/replies per post

Amplification Rate = # of shares/retweets per post

Applause Rate = # of Likes/Favorites/+1’s per post

With three easy equations, you can determine how often your followers converse with you regarding your posts, how often your posts are shared to a larger audience and the rate at which your followers express their approval of your posts.

So, how do you gather all this information? For Facebook, everything you need is available in Facebook Insights (more on this in Part 2), gathering data from Twitter and Google+ is a little more difficult. Thankfully, TrueSocialMetrics saw an opportunity in Kaushik’s article and built a tool that figures all of this out for you.

Looks like we have some work to do.

Avinash also mentions Economic Value in his article, but calculating it requires preparing and gathering data from Google Analytics which we’ll discuss in more detail in Part 3.

That should be enough to get you started for now. In Part 2, we’ll take a closer look at the various tools available and how effective they are in helping you measure your social media success. See you next time!


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