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How To: Monitor and Measure Your Brand on Social Media

Submitted by on April 5, 2011 – 6:48 am4 Comments

In order to do social media marketing well, companies need to know whether their social media efforts are working and if their users are truly engaged. Some businesses spend so much time trying to lure readers to their social media pages for the first time that once someone signs up for their blog’s RSS feed, or becomes a fan on Facebook or follower on Twitter, it’s almost as if they haven’t devised part two of their strategy. Companies need to be thinking about how to keep people coming back.

Chris Lake identifies 35 Key Performance Indicators to help measure engagement. He also suggests that the goal of any social optimization strategy is engagement: you want people to make a noise, store and share things, love your website, visit more frequently, refer your company to their friends, buy into your brand and buy your products.

There isn’t a one size fits all way to run a social media campaign.  Even apples to apples, you may need to have a very different slant from a competitor in another part of the country or the other side of town. There’s a lot we need to know about our customers and social media users: who they are, what motivates them, what interests them, and what they like and dislike.

Know thy customer, know thy industry

Maria Ogneva shares some excellent insights in her post “Why You Need to Monitor and Measure Your Brand on Social Media.” Maria suggests that social media monitoring tools are all a little different in “approach, methodology, metrics, depth of analysis, channels measured, reports and UI.”

“In your search for the right tool(s),” Maria says, “You should be looking to both monitor and measure your brand on social media.” She defines monitoring as the discovery of conversations with the purpose of learning, engaging, helping or collaborating.  Social media measurement is more concerned with metrics over a specified time and answers questions such as: how did my keywords perform over time, how does that compare to my competitors, and what are some trends I can glean to make my product more usable by these people who are giving me feedback.

What do you need to monitor and measure for your business?  Where do you begin? Our contributors to this post use a variety of monitoring tools and specific areas important to them to track. Some have even devised their own customized plans for what look at. Their feedback and experiences will also help you to identify areas to monitor and measure.

We’re also happy to provide you with GigCoin’s two week guide to learning more about free social media monitoring tools which you can access here with a video or activity a day for two weeks!

Here are some additional resources too for information about social media monitoring tools:
12 social media monitoring tools reviewed
20 free, awesome social media monitoring tools
10 free social media monitoring tools

What Businesses Have to Say

What specifically do you track?
We track product (Publicaster) and company (Blue Sky Factory) mentions mostly. However, were also interested in what is happening with our competitors as well as the email marketing industry overall. If anyone is talking about Blue Sky Factory or email marketing, we want to be there to help.
DJ, Waldow, Blue Sky Factory

We track demographics of users, impressions, engagement, activity and clicks.
Jeremy Vara, White Digital Media

We built a very custom flow chart/program on all the actions I do in order to bring in leads, get customers to purchase more, make our company more “social”, etc. Part of this program is monitoring and tracking each of my action items. Every week, I send the following to my boss: 

# of social media leads, revenue created from social media leads, 
website traffic generated from social media (I use Google Analytics for this) 
# of new followers (on all SM sites),  # of new followers who are in our database system (I run a search of any info I can find on the persons profile), # of posts on all SM sites,
 how much feedback we get from our posts (i.e. likes, comments, re-tweets, etc.), 

# of influencers I connected with (i.e. bloggers, industry experts, journalists, media, etc.), 

# of influencers who mentioned or featured us, 

Influencer impressions (these would be the number of “eyes” who could have seen the content when an influencer mentions us; for example, if they tweet about us, I look at how many followers they have and that would be my # of impressions. I take note of each time we’re mentioned.)
Ferris Stith, PostcardMania

We try our best to track everything, though we also realise that it’s impossible to track 100% of it. We keep an eye on the number of followers on Twitter, the number of interactions, the number of “fans” on Facebook and everything else we can. The more obvious things are the number of clicks and reactions to links and other content that we share.
Michele Neylon, Blacknight

Brand mentions- we want to know where people are talking about us, what they are saying (sentiment) and if there is an opportunity for us to join the conversation. Feature Mentions – we provide people with tools to market their website. The problem is, not everyone who markets their site has heard of Raven. So to help spread the word we keep track of mentions of our core features like “social media monitoring.” That way whenever someone is talking about the subject we can look for an opportunity to introduce them to our toolset. Competitor- we also keep an eye on mentions of our top competitors. The reason is, if someone is reviewing their tool/software or even asking people what they think of our competitor’s tool/software, there is an opportunity for us to join the conversation. Maybe they are looking for alternatives or maybe they do reviews on popular toolsets. Either way it’s a great way to find new opportunities to join the discussion.
Taylor Pratt, Raven Internet Marketing Tools

What you’re tracking should reflect what your objectives are. If you’re looking to expand your customer base, you need to be looking at how many people you’re reaching, your impressions as well as what the demographics of those people are and whether or not they match up with your targeted demographics. Reaching 10 million people won’t do you any good if 9.7 million of them aren’t your target audience. If you’re looking to engage with your customers and develop brand loyalty, you need to be looking at the engagement levels. How many positive, negative and neutral comments/interactions are you getting?  Are they responding to your posts or are they posting on their own? What about customer engagement with contests or incentives? 

For everything, you need to be looking at the analytics from the social media outlets or program (or a third-party if they don’t offer one) as well as your website analytics. This is the most telling part as your website is your online front door and, for most companies, it’s important that you’re driving people there for even more brand engagement and identification…You want to look at your referring sites so you can see what social media outlets are driving traffic to the site as well as what posts are engaging to your audience and getting them to click through.
Nathan Rome, SPM Communications

What are the most important metrics to you to monitor?

Mentions are certainly important; however, what matters most for us is how do those mentions turn into real conversations that eventually lead to new clients ($$). Additionally, its important for us to be able to respond quickly to clients as they often mention us on Facebook and Twitter, and in blog posts.
DJ Waldow, Blue Sky Factory

Views are most important to us.
Jeremy Vara, White Digital Media

Overall interactions and engagement.
Michele Neylon, Blacknight

We have a custom built database that makes it super easy to track how each and every lead heard about us. We also train all our receptionists to ask specific key questions whenever we get a new caller. We’re ALL about tracking our leads! If you look at our Facebook page, you’ll see we have a couple tabs (Welcome & Freebies) where visitors can sign up for our e-newsletter, request product samples and other free stuff we have on there. We also have options on our blog.

Whenever someone fills out the form for any of these free things, I get an email notification and so does our data entry department. We set it up so that the email shows all the info, i.e. contact info, what they signed up for, what site they signed up at (whether it was Facebook, or the blog), etc. I also set up all our social media profiles to notify me when someone new is following us, accepted our friend request or when someone requests to be a connection. I then manually look up each person to see if they’re in our system already. If they are, they go onto a prospects/customer spreadsheet, if not, they go onto the RAW spreadsheet. Then if in the future any of these peeps decide to contact us, I compare the weekly new leads to my spreadsheets and can easily determine if they are a social media lead or not. (As a side note: I keep my spreadsheets updated every single day so that I can accurately track my leads)
Ferris Stith, PostcardMania

Engagement - Are users responding to our social media messaging on sites like Facebook and Twitter? Do they join in on the conversation? Does it appear to interest them?
 Sentiment - What is the overall opinion of our brand? Is there any consistency in what people are saying about us? For example, if we routinely see mentions of a feature people want, we’ll do everything we can to create that for them. Sometimes by monitoring sentiment we can find opportunities to clarify a common question we didn’t even know existed (like a feature we have that no one knows about).
 Conversions- It’s very important to keep track of your overall goals in social media. That could be anything from trying to get a certain number of fans on Facebook, to trying to get Facebook users to convert to (in our case) paying users.
Taylor Pratt, Raven Internet Marketing Tools

Demographic information is by far the most important metric to monitor in social media. After all, social media is all about engaging with your fans/brand enthusiasts and you can’t do that if you don’t know who they are. In addition, you need to make sure that the fans you’re getting are the ones who can make an impact on your business. You want to look at important variables like age, gender and region. It does no good to have a bunch of fans from Chicago if you’re company only has one location in LA and you have no intention/means to enter the Chicago market. 

Your website analytics is the second most important metrics to monitor which I know is a pretty big set of metrics. You need to assess how social media is impacting your business so you can determine benchmarks and successes. Demographics is a big key here as well because you’ll want to assess which users are more likely to click through to the site to learn more about the company as they are more likely to be brand advocates as well as have the biggest impact on your business. In addition, you’ll want to look at the bounce rate. This will help you determine how good of a job you’re doing at finding relevant content on the site that your customers are interested in as well as just how engaging your site is period.
Nathan Rome, SPM Communications

What tool(s) do you use?  Free or for-fee monitoring tools. And what was most important to you in the selection of those tools? E.g. functionality, price

We use a combination of both free (HootSuite, Tweetdeck, Google Alerts), paid  (Argyle Social) and partner (Radian6, JitterJam) services to monitor social media mentions. 
In choosing a vendor, price and functionality are both important. We have yet to find a tool/service that solves all of our business needs; therefore, we opt for using several. Right now, we are using Radian6 more for alerting us to new social mentions, while Argyle is used to build trackable links and track social conversions (new leads!)
DJ Waldow, Blue Sky Factory

We use Analytics, BizoTweetEffect, and TweetWhen. For functionality, measuring the likelihood of virality. We look for lower priced tools and ones which are absolutely free.
Jeremy Vara, White Digital Media

We use Cotweet, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, RSS.me, and GetSatisfaction. There are a lot of low cost tools that are very useful. A lot of free ones are excellent, but I don’t mind paying for something that genuinely makes my life easier.
Michele Neylon, Blacknight

I currently do pretty much all of this manually. I use free tools and resources such as Hootsuite, Google Analytics, SocialMention, Google Alerts, Bit.ly and a few others. I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff I’m still missing as these free tools don’t have as advanced algorithm’s or web crawlers as the paid tools (such as Radian6) have. But for now, they work.
Ferris Stith, PostcardMania

The company I work for, Raven Internet Marketing Tools, provides easy ways to track social media mentions , assign sentiment to them and it even has tools to help you manage and monitor your Facebook, Twitter and YouTube  accounts. Even before I joined Raven I was a user of theirs who made sure all of my clients were being tracked in their system. We give users a very unique tool that really very few toolsets offer: the ability to create custom, white-labeled reports on all of the data. I care about two things when I’m choosing a social media tool: accuracy and tracking. You want a tool that will make your job easier while also empowering you to do a better job. In the case of social media that means a tool that has good filtering in place for monitoring, gives you an easy way to communicate on key social channels (like Twitter), and that allows you to easily report on your results.
Taylor Pratt, Raven Internet Marketing Tools

Facebook Insights is a fantastic free tool and one of the most in-depth analytics reporting tools available in social media; however, it’s limited to Facebook. The pay services are all alright. They are just tracking mentions and then trying to pull relevant information about that. They are all about equal to be perfectly honest and you can pull all the same information manually. The best part about manually doing it is you can decide which information is relevant to your objectives. Do you want to know how many followers someone who mentioned you has or do you care more about where it showed up at (feeds, retweets, etc.). Google Analytics is an invaluable tool and if you don’t have it in your website you’re insane. I get some people don’t like the idea of Google anonymously pulling information for its ad network but you can turn that off if you want. Bottom line: it’s free, easy to use and in depth. Use it. Especially if you’re not using any other website analytics program. 

Your other best friend is going to be Excel.
Nathan Rome, SPM Communications

Have you changed your direction(s) based on anything you’ve learned from metrics? If yes, please explain.

Yes and no. In some ways, the social media metrics have validated what we already know. Creating valuable content (at a high volume) wins. Also, we’ve found that Twitter is the social media network that drives the most engagement – mentions, shares, clicks, social conversions, etc. Also, thanks to Argyle, we can see which specific post (Twitter update, Facebook wall post, etc) from which individual at Blue Sky Factory creates the most buzz.
DJ Waldow, Blue Sky Factory

Yes, timing and time of day of social media use is adjusted accordingly along with precision of target market.
Jeremy Vara, White Digital Media

Yes. We’re always looking to see what works and what doesn’t work. Bearing in mind, however, that customer service via social media is very different to sales / marketing.
Michele Neylon, Blacknight

Absolutely. Back when I worked at an agency, one of my clients was a national chain restaurant. We started monitoring brand mentions and were paying close attention to negative mentions. What we found was the majority of people thought that the restaurant’s menu was unhealthy. What they didn’t know was they had a whole section of the menu dedicated to helping people eat right. To fix that, we created a social marketing campaign that pushed the healthy menu options. It was a great way to make people aware of something we already have in place and help fix the sentiment that the restaurant wasn’t a healthy choice.
Taylor Pratt, Raven Internet Marketing Tools

Most certainly we’ve changed direction based on metrics. Metrics should show what’s going on so you can continue to formulate marketing decisions. They shouldn’t just be used to demonstrate that you are right all the time. We test contests and engagement techniques all the time and then compare them against previous metrics to determine how well we did and how we can continue to adapt our programs to better suit our customers engagement practices. One time, we began seeing in our demographic that we had a large Spanish-speaking fan base in southern Texas that we had no idea about. To help better reach those fans and make sure they knew they were appreciated and taken care of, we started issuing releases in Spanish as well as reaching out to the Spanish-language media outlets. We ended up seeing considerable increases in sales in the region and even had enough drive to open up another location with Spanish-language menus. That one metric really impacted our operations, perspective and sales.
Nathan Rome, SPM Communications

What’s most important to you to monitor and measure about your brand on social media? What tools have you used and recommend?

Check-out our 2 week learning guide to free social media monitoring tools!

photo by stuartpilbrow

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