Social Media Analytics: How to Measure and Track Social Media Activity

Social media is one of the most difficult things to justify in terms of ROI because current analytics aren’t well suited to measure its data. Here’s my proposal for social media analytics and tracking. This is an approach to use as a foundation for creating social media analytics tools, not a tool.

27/05/2011 – Update on Social Media Analytics Tools:

Since this post was written in 2008, lots have happened in social media analytics. For a social media measurement tool, your best bet is BuzzStream. It integrates Twitter with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool so that you automatically track your relationships with Twitter contacts. This ties into a PR and social media tool (or a link building CRM). Read on to find out why this is the best kind of social media analytics…

Couple that is soon to be wed
(Soon to be wed by Simoty77/SLloydBottom)

Social media is a suite of tools for … socializing.

Therefore, the best measure of success in social media is how many relationships you have and how strong your relationships are.

Personally, I really enjoy linking to other people and/or submitting their stuff to Sphinn because I know it strengthens my relationships with them.

To reprise Sean Covey Jr.’s metaphor from his highly successful 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (reprised from his dad’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?), you’re putting a deposit into your relationship bank account. The more deposits, the richer you are.

The reason regular analytics aren’t suited to measuring this is that they collect clickstream data (word kudos to Avinash Kaushik). Whether we’re talking about logs or about javascript tags or sniffer packets, the data is what occurs in your visitors’ browsers. Social media analytics need to track what goes on in your acquaintances and friends’ minds. (Like the thought police, only different ;). )

That’s only a slight exaggeration. What I’m getting at is that you want to measure your network of friends and contacts. Since I’ve been getting more active and having more success on StumbleUpon, I know that my network is growing in size, and as I submit more content and thumb more up, in strength as well. Is your network a sturdy jungle gym or a flimsy spiderweb? (Jungle Gym by bazzmc.Jungle GymIf you’re going to measure your social media results, for now, the best you can do is sit down with a spreadsheet, write up your friends’ names and what you’ve done for them recently. Have you:

  • Connected them with useful contacts?
  • Sent business their way?
  • Linked to them?
  • Interviewed them for something?
  • Answered some questions they had?
  • Gotten them ahead in some way, shape or form?

I emphasize the recency bit. To quote the Japanese, “A kind word can warm three cold winter months.” (Which means that if you’ll see a higher ROI in Canada.) More seriously, this will help you assess where you stand because people forget favors quickly remember injuries extensively. I still remember which kids stole my hockey cards in grade school, and that was over a decade ago! Ask me who gave me a compliment, and I’d be hardpressed to tell. (Though that maybe because I was a bit of a loner back then.)

Another advantage of this approach to tracking is that it’s more actionable than clickstream data. Compare “I haven’t been in touch with Sylvain in a while…” vs “We got 348 visitors today.”

On that same note, I’d like to highlight that I’m far from being the only one discussing this issue. Get some further reading from the following folks, who address social media, ROI, and measurement, though none of them quite in these words, afaik.

Note: While Ann and Maki are pretty close to my thinking, I believe this post adds to the discussion (especially in terms of specifics, and pointing out the obvious which for some reason hasn’t been addressed yet) rather than just rehashing it.

  1. Maki – social-media-networking-and-roi/
  2. MindValley Labs – whats-a-friend-worth-to-you/394/
  3. Ignite (ft. Brian) – social-media-metrics-coming-to-an-algorithm-near-you-part-1/
  4. Huomah – social-media-marketing-is-it-for-you.html
  5. Huomah – the-Value-of-Social-Media-Marketing-Part-II.html
  6. SEOmoz in part – whiteboard-friday-tracking-nontraditional-conversions
  7. Annie at SEOmoz – creative-rss-button-could-it-work
  8. Annie @ home – http://www.seosmarty.com/social-media-marketing-think-long-term/
  9. Ann’s touched on it elsewhere (or was that just PMs?) but I can’t find it. You get the point though, the gal’s smart.
  10. Yours truly – seo-roi-tops-200-subscribers-case-study-on-feed-analytics-and-poll/ (update: tops 300 😀 )

To conclude, consider this illustration of the ROI you can get from social media.

Guy Kawasaki, when explaining how he was able to launch a site that got 200,000 pageviews its first day, said, “I spent 24 years schmoozing and paying it forward.”

And that, ladies and gents, was my proposal for social media analytics and tracking. Like this person said: Measure relationships, their strength and their growth.

On a related note, you may care to read this post on the measures and value of attention equity: How do you measure attention and what is it worth to you? If you think you’re likely to visit again why not just add my RSS feed to your RSS-feedreader?

Existing social media analytics tools are as follows. Note that they’re mostly quantitative, rather than qualitative.

To analyze Digg, Mashable lists 5 tools.

Marty has a great item on building a reputation monitoring dashboard. He also has buzz pocket mining tools for those interested in mining social media for keywords.

Some other miscellaneous ones include Keotag – for tracking tag use; Boardtracker – for forum conversations in particular ; Google Blog search, which lets you track blogs that mentions your desired keywords (e.g. Brands, products, etc.); and Radian 6, which Ben has reviewed.

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Author: sroiadmin