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Measuring Results in Social Media Marketing

This blog post an updated excerpt from my book, Marketing 2.0.

Measuring results is one of my favorite topics in marketing. Since the invention of marketing (I couldn’t find that date in Wikipedia), executives have wanted to measure the effectiveness of marketing dollars against sales in order to determine their return on investment, or ROI.

The reality is that in recent years, measuring marketing results, at least at the quantitative level, has become increasing sophisticated through tools and techniques. In addition to quantitative metrics, measuring qualitative results can be just as valuable.

Social media marketing measurement is very similar to measuring other web marketing results. First I’ll review the tools you can use. Then, I’ll offer ways you can use them to measure social media marketing results.

Conventional Wisdom

Let’s start with a look at the conventional web marketing metrics tools, beginning with some free tools. You may be familiar with some or all of these tools. As obvious as they are to me, I often meet marketers who are not harnessing them to their full potential.

Google Analytics—a free web analytics service that provides website owners valuable insight into website traffic details including visitors, sources of visitor traffic, pages visited, time spent on your website, keywords driving website traffic, geographic location of visitors, conversions based on a predefined goals, and much more.

Google Webmaster Tools—another set of free and powerful tools from Google providing another level of detail in studying traffic data for your website as well as keyword click-throughs and inbound links.

Google Alerts—another free service that will alert you by email or to your RSS reader each time Google finds a relevant result for a topic you’ve set up to track.

Google Blogsearch—a free search engine subset of Google’s search engine geared to display blog posts. When you search on a phrase, Google displays recent blog posts for that phrase.

Social Media Measurement Tools

As social media marketing has exploded, so has the landscape of tools and services designed to help companies measure and optimize their results. I’ll start with a partial list of free social media measuring tools. Note most free tools offer fee-based premium versions as well.

Blogpulse—a service from Nielsen Buzzmetrics that acts as both a blog search engine and blog tracker. Bloggers can track conversations taking place about topics of interest, as well as discover where their blog ranks in relation to others covering similar topics.

Trendpedia—a free service that functions mostly as a blog search engine. Its main feature involves helping people find the most popular trends in social media across a variety of topics and tracking the trend of the topic over a three-month period in comparison to other relevant topics.

Trendrr—a free service that adds a real sense of analytical measurement through its use of trending graphs. Trendrr lets anyone track, compare, and share trends on any topic across blogs and other social media.

Technorati—a free service that functions as an Internet search engine for blogs. You can track your blog content in Technorati.

Twitter Search – Whether or not your have a Twitter account, you can use Twitter’s search engine. Marketers should search relevant keywords to learn about conversations about their brand on Twitter.

The free tools listed above are a partial list of many tools available to track your content results. I encourage you to use as many tools as practical to measure and track your social media marketing results on an ongoing basis.

Staying on Course

However, tracking the reach of your content in social media is just a part of the measuring results secret sauce. You also need to gain insights so you can measure your progress and take action. A metaphor comes to mind. Social media marketing is like flying an airplane. The sophisticated cockpit constantly calculates the extent to which the plan has shifted from its course route and makes the necessary adjustment to get the plane back on its course. In social media marketing, you must similarly be tracking and interpreting in order to know when and how much you must adjust your content strategy and your tactics to stay on course.

In addition to the free tools listed above, there is an ever-growing list of fee-based tools to measure social media results. I will only list two because these are the two we use at Find and Convert and therefore I’m most familiar with them. Again, there are many other good tools available and you should do your own homework.

HubSpot – an inbound marketing software as a service (SaaS). HubSpot allows marketers to track keyword rankings, competitor’s web marketing presence, traffic analysis, leads and lead intelligence. Recently, HubSpot added social media tracking features allowing marketers to track the impact of social media on your desired goals (such as sales leads). In the screenshot below you can see the emerging impact of social media traffic.

ScoutLabs – a social media tracking tool that allows marketers to track mentions in blogs, bookmarking sites, Twitter, photos, video and more. We like the ability to track sentiment of keywords and the ability to chart trends. Below is a short video interview with Jennifer Zeszut, CEO of ScoutLabs.


Measuring Quantitative Results
There are many factors you can measure in your social media strategy. First, make sure you have clearly defined goals. Otherwise your metrics will not be meaningful and you won’t be able to measure success. Here are some quantitative metrics you can measure.

Subscribers – watch the subscriber count to your blog(s) and newsletter grow.

Followers – watch the number of followers on Twitter or Facebook grow as well any groups or communities your create.

Mentions – track the mentions of your brand and relevant keywords to learn about conversations and decide which conversations you should engage.

Sentiment – track the sentiment of your keywords to determine what (if any) changes you should consider in your content strategy and in the tactics you use. A negative trend on a topic may give you cause to back away from that topic or to change your approach to it.

Inbound Links – links are the currency of the web. Track the number of links you’re building and where they are coming from.

Comments – study the comments being made on your blog or your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Comments could give you reason to engage or add more content on a topic of high interest.

Connections – one of the greatest and measurable factors in social media marketing is the new doors that can open up. New connections can result in speaking opportunities, media interviews, guest blog or publication articles, key introductions and new sales opportunities.

Brand Equity – all businesses should care about brand equity. It’s not limited to large companies. Using any combination of tools described above you should study the trends in your brand. Is your company name a growing keyword driver of traffic to your website? If the trends are positive, correlate that to your sales results. If you have employees with a strong social media presence include them in your brand equity study. The relationship between your employees and your brand is tied more tightly than ever before. Take Mike Volpe as an example. His blogging, speaking, podcasting and overall content creation on the web has a positive impact on HubSpot, his employer. And, btw, both Mike Volpe (the brand) and HubSpot (the brand) benefit from his efforts.

It Takes Work!
If you’re thinking, man this sounds like a lot of work, you’re not only right, you’re onto something big! Measuring results properly is not just hard work. It’s time consuming. So, where are you going to get all this time? By eliminating non-performing marketing activities! Measure all your marketing activities. If you have losers in your marketing mix (assuming you’ve been at it more than six months) scale them back or eliminate them. Many marketers report cutting back on marketing activities such as direct mail and tradeshows after measuring success in their social media strategy. BTW, attending a tradeshow can be just as effective as exhibiting at a tradeshow at a fraction of the cost. While you’re at the tradeshow you should be posting to Twitter about the people you’re meeting and the content you’re enjoying, taking pictures and shooting video interviews with industry people and posting all this content on the web to keep building your footprint on the web. Of course when you tag this content you’ll create links and build more brand equity. And, you can measure that…

To measure your social media marketing results keep at it and measure. Keep at it. Measure. Keep at it. Measure.

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