As social media keeps providing new marketing opportunities, in addition to a way
for online users to simply pass the time, the need for social analytics is becoming more
Utilizing reporting tools that are available online today can help Internet marketers
continue to shape their social media strategy and overall online interaction methods.
Some of the most important metrics to track when it comes to
social media include the ROI — how time spent marketing on
sites like Facebook and Twitter translates into revenue for the
company — and the growth and interaction factors surrounding
a company’s online profiles and communities.
Any metric can be broken down into granular parts for a
closer look or to add quantitative micro-metrics to an overarching
qualitative metric. For example, the number of links acquired
on shared or viral content pages via social media is a key factor
for the SEO-minded.
But instead of looking only at how many
links the viral content page received you can break it down by:
1. Volume of links for a number of pieces of content
2. Amount of links based on number of visits
3. Shift in site-wide link count over time
4. Competitive link growth
5. Links by category / topic
6. Links by social channel
The important thing to remember when it comes to social
media analytics is to take into consideration what “success”
means relative to the page and brand that is being measured.
Comparing a small business’ page to a nationwide, well-known
business is an impossible feat — the numbers will always be
New Developments in
Facebook makes it easy to track page metrics by sending administrators
a list of statistics every Monday, including the
growth in fans when compared to the previous
week and the traffic that has actually
come to the page during that
week. These statistics can then be
calculated into averages per
month, as a way to report growth
in traffic and overall interaction.
Facebook also reports Insights
on every post made by an administrator on
a page, along with new graphs that display users’
gender and age range. These demographics may be helpful
for companies that have a strict target audience — say a product targeted towards a specific gender (such as Axe body
spray or Cover Girl makeup) or an age range target, like Seventeen
Magazine or Budweiser. When users outside of the target
demographic area visit the page regularly, this may reflect
how online and traditional marketing campaigns affect and
draw in their audiences.
Post insights include the number of impressions or how
many times a user has seen that page’s post on either their Facebook
wall or on the page’s wall, and the percentage of interaction
with the post. This percentage takes any action a user might do
with the post — whether that be “liking” it or commenting —
then divides it by the number of impressions. For the most part,
impression percentages are quite low, depending on the number
of fans of a page and their average interaction rate. For example,
if a Facebook page is created for a study group, it may only have
30 “likes” but the interaction percentage may be very high, especially
if the users are going to the page daily and commenting
on every post.
Audience size, average interaction and post quality are all
important factors when evaluating an interaction percentage.
Most pages with 1,000 fans or less will consider one percent or
more to be a resounding success, whereas a page of a famous
name brand or celebrity with thousands of fans (5,000 or
more) and an active community might see an
average of two to five percent.
The New Twitter
Twitter announced a new analytics
platform that allows users to track follows,
unfollows, clicks and overall traffic.
Expected to be released in 2011, the Twitter
Analytics service is different than Facebook Insights because it
tracks clicks in addition to some of the other, similar metrics.
Because Twitter is primarily used as a link-sharing service,
tracking links is one of the most valuable analytics that can be reported
on the platform. While this can already be completed
using outside services, having the ability to access the data directly
on Twitter could make it more accurate and reliable, and
definitely more convenient
Current Independent Reporting Tools
There are several other, free or third-party independent reporting
tools that can track links and mentions of a company’s
name or products on social media. Bit.ly, TwitterFeed, Tweet-
Deck, and Social Mention are a few great tools that can be
utilized to offer customized social media analytics reporting.
Plugging the bit.ly API key into TwitterFeed, along with
UTM tags, allows you to track clicks from an RSS feed published
on Twitter in bit.ly, and the UTM tags can track your
posted links in Google Analytics. Tracking the source and
medium UTM tags (displayed as http://www.blog.com/contactus?
utm_source=twitter&utm_ medium=twitterfeed) can help
calculate ROI — especially if a link posted on Twitter or
Facebook with a UTM tag is taking users to a landing page with
a shopping cart or contact form
that counts as a conversion. Using
a link shortener to condense URLs
with UTM tags makes it easier than
ever to write link URLs without having to
worry about character restraints.
Another impressive metric of social media reporting is calculating
the percentage increase in average traffic and “likes” on
Facebook, or followers on Twitter. Even small numbers, such as
going from 44 to 75 “likes” in 10 days, translates into impressive
percentage increases. And because of the difficulty in assigning
concrete numbers to social media, these types of increases can
help to prove that a social media campaign is successful.
While Facebook and Twitter are the most well-known social
media platforms in the United States, other websites that
should be reported on are YouTube and social bookmarking
sites like StumbleUpon and Reddit. YouTube, for example, is
offering more customization to advertisers and account owners
when it comes to their channels, to help attract and maintain
audiences. Measuring average views, comments or another
metric applicable to the particular social site are good ways to
tell if a marketing strategy on these websites is effective. However,
these websites are in a niche of their own and should
never be compared to Facebook and Twitter — one of the most
important things to remember when reporting social media
analytics to determine success.
The Folly of Comparing Social
Before proclaiming that Twitter is more effective than Facebook
or any other social platform, their respective statistics
need to be put into the perspective of how each of the websites
is used differently. Twitter is more of a link and information-
sharing platform rather than Facebook,
for example, which is used to forge relationships
and build repeat interactions
over time. The same can be said for
comparing LinkedIn with YouTube
or StumbleUpon with Reddit.
The basis of social media strategy
is the fact that social media as a whole
should be treated as an entire set of tools instead
of focusing on a single website to bring traffic
and business to a company.
Engaging social media to attract and retain an active, participating
audience should be the end goal, no matter what social
media analytics metrics are being measured. When it comes to
social media, both the individual analytics and how different
platforms can be combined to form a total online marketing
strategy can produce endless opportunities.
About the Author: Jordan Kasteler has been involved in Internet marketing and SEO
since 2001. He currently is SVP of Content Development and Managing
Partner at BlueGlass Interactive, Inc., an industry leading
agency in social media marketing and search engine optimization.