How is Social Media activity measured?

Selecting the best way to measure the success of a social media action depends on your objectives when embarking on said action. Do you want to elicit a specific action (such as signing up for a website)? Do you want to get to know your audience (by having them answer questions or take part in a discussion)? Do you want your content to get seen by as many people as possible (sharing posts or referencing them in other sites)?

But in more general terms, without considering the specific objectives of a social media action we can grasp the reach of posted content in a few ways, they can be used in a more general approach but they rapidly become specific to your objectives on your social media interactions. In other words, you intentions determine the metrics that will tell you the most about your success in achieving your goals. With that in mind let’s look at a few metrics that are out there.

From Social Media Examiner we can select these tools: In a social strategy content is very important, so you should always look at the content you are putting out there and use “an editorial calendar” to keep track of the ideas you are posting about and in what sequence you intend to do so. They suggest keeping a table of your blogs content posts together with a few indicators (say using Google Analytics) of how each post performed in readership and comments. That way you can know what interest your readers more and what got you more responses and use this information to create future content. I would add that keeping a table of your intended future topics is also useful and you should revise it daily and track current ideas on these topics (using, say, Google Alerts on keywords) to see what’s relevant and if your intended topics are “hot subjects”.

From Forbes I would select this important quote: “Rather than being a ‘stock media’, where the number of impressions represents the main outcome, social media is a “flow media”, defined by the depth and breath of relationships between brands and various stakeholders”. That is to say that a lot can be said in social media success by looking at the quality of the interactions between poster and reader. Let’s call it the quality vs. quantity approach, which is quite a shift if you consider most marketing measures that place a lot of emphasis on the number of people that saw a given message. Of course marketing looks into results from those viewers, how many bought a product or participated in a contest, but it assumes that the more people you have reached in the first place will determine how many people you are able to engage. As in, the variables increase together (reach and activation). What Forbes brings to the table is the notion that the quality of the interaction is more important than the number of people you were able to engage in the first place, that is an interesting idea. Their idea of measures to access this information would include: “How many comments do the social assets receive everyday? How many of them are being replied to? What is the social sentiment of the brand? What kind of responses or feedback on your posts/photos/videos/infographics (for example, thank-you messages, messages of encouragement, positive shares, etc).

To illustrate how making the most of what little (fan base or audience you have) Forbes references the case of Pret-a-Manger: “Despite having a smaller community than its competitors, the brand has focused its efforts on responding effectively to customers, offering great value and exclusive discounts to their community and turning community-sourced recipes to actual products. Pret A Manger even shared the story of how its coffee is grown. The company’s content clearly reflects the brand’s positioning around creativity, passion for fresh food and good humor. This has resulted in a Facebook “People Talking About” score of 1.39 percent (which means 1.39 percent of people who saw a post reacted to it by talking about it or sharing it), while most Facebook pages typically score below 1 percent”.

Facebook offers great tools to grasp social media interaction stats, as illustrated in the example above. Their measure of “People Talking About” can be quite an useful tool to provide content publishers with insights about their audience’s behavior and tastes.

Idealware adds a few interesting blog tools to the mix: Booshaka builds intelligence about your social media contacts (namely from Facebook which is the platform they manage) helping you provide content that engages them and Klout helps you discover content that your audience (on Twitter and Facebook) hasn’t seen yet and also tracks the impact of your content. They also mention a few professional tools (more expensive) that allow business to track all their interactions with clients creating a “marketing cloud” of information.

Sentiment tracking, something that tools like Hootsuite allow you to do, can help social media posters understand how people feel about the content they post and the companies they post about. This is a tool that is increasing in relevance fast because it goes beyond tracking the life cycle of a post and its performance, it effectively create a knowledge base of interactions separated by the feeling (negative, positive and neutral) they create.

Social Media and Engagement

Social Media and Engagement

Social Media Measuring

Social Media Measuring

Sentiment Tracking Example

Sentiment Tracking Example

Social media measurement is not only an interesting and rich topic but also an increasingly fascinating one. As technology evolves and becomes more sensitive to the nuances of words and postings I’m sure we will see many more interesting measuring tools come to the forefront.



Social Media Platforms: differences and best practices.

From my own experience launching, and managing, both a Facebook page and a Twitter page for a client I got a few good ideas. This client was an online media audio venture so, for us, Facebook posts were a great way to share interesting content and build conversations around the topics that were being discussed in their audio operation. We used plenty of rich media aids in our Facebook posts and the posts with pictures, audio and/or video attached got way more shares and likes than just plain text ones.

Twitter was great to get the “in the moment” feel of the audience and run fast contests with our followers (like guess which movie this song playing live is from), as well as get questions in for audio q&as what were going on live.

We grouped our actions to follow this pattern. Facebook for shares about stuff that happened, to increase the reach of the content and get more eyes, ears and hands involved with it. In other words: build conversations around our pieces and increase their reach like this. Twitter to get fast responses on things that were going on right now and direct people to what was happening in the moment.

Of course we cross posted on both platforms sometimes, but we always went the extra mile to customize the posts to fit in with each platforms strengths. Examples: hashtags, pictures and links in Twitter; pictures, audio and video more on Facebook.

We used Hootsuite to manage both of our accounts and schedule posts so they could happen in hours were people’s timelines were probably less crowded or to coincide with specific content being featured on the audio website live. Tools like this made our lives easier and also allowed us to follow up on our posts and engage with users answering questions and acknowledging comments to keep the conversation going (and take advantage of the “two-way” channel that both these platforms represented.

Time Magazine published a few best practices for Facebook and I’m happy to see that some of the ideas we used with our client hold true. They recommend: 1) Target your Posts (choose audience that will see them), 2) Use photos, but make them original, 3) Post at Odd Hours, 4) Start a Conversation, 4) Be engaging, 5) Cross-promote with other pages, 6) Hop on a trending topic and 7) Buy an ad.

Nimble also suggests a few Facebook strategies. Among their recommendations: 1) Post engaging images, 2) Include a photo album, 3) Post a video, 4) Use short text, 5) Analyze data about your top posts to see why they achieved such great results.

Coca-Cola using "fill in the blanks" riddles to engage users.

Coca-Cola using “fill in the blanks” riddles to engage users.

Mashable also jumped in with a few tips of its own. 1) Embrace images, 2) Make the most of your cover photo, 3) Learn using Facebook insights, 4) Highlight or pin your best posts, 5) Get your apps in a row, 6) Run contests to boost engagement, 7) Drop in those milestones and 8) Embrace your fans. They even highlight a few great ideas they’ve seen brands use on Facebook: Red Bull launching a scavenger hunt game on Facebook, Old Spice doing status updates that are funny and quirky just like their brand image, ESPN’s use of “fill in the blank” posts to engage fans and Coca-Cola encouraging fans to solve riddles on their timeline.

Red Bull - game on Facebook.

Red Bull – game on Facebook.

My own compiled list of Facebook best practices:

1) Groom your page, change your images to reflect your current ideas and content. Be impactful. Also, be respectful.

2) Fill in the information on your page. Have a YouTube page, link it there, have an App link it there, have a homepage link it there, make your relevant information easy to access.

3) Use photo albums, organize your content and tell your story.

4) Be brief, use short phrases and make use of this “brevity” challenge to be great at copyrighting.

5) Use images, audio and video, original ones, great ones, impactful ones.

6) Read up on the Facebook insights (data) about your page, know what works (and what doesn’t) for you. Learn from your successes and from your mistakes.

7) Start debates with a short question and keep things moving on the comments.

8) Ask questions, important ones, fun ones, and turn your comment section into a virtual coffee shop.

9) Post in a timely fashion, not too much and not too little. Use your own team to follow your page and see how your posts fare on their timeline. Don’t overload, but also don’t let cobwebs grow on your timelines (stale content is the worst).

10) Last, but most definitely not least, answer back to people. Don’t leave those that engage with you in a void. If people take the time to talk to you, answer back and keep the ball rolling.


How Organizations and Movements use Social Media?

I happen to follow several different organizations on social media websites. Why I follow them? To stay on top of new promotions they provide (reason for following airline companies), to stay on top of news about them (reason for following favorite shows), to get access to content they provide (good for favorite movies/shows and news/blogs) or to be able to access them if I need to say something (products I have).

Companies that know how to use social media do it in a way that doesn’t overpower their followers’ timelines (the case for those in Facebook and Twitter), and I’ll keep following them. If they prove too intrusive (many posts a day, posts I don’t care for), I’ll stop following them.

Harvard Business Review research numbers show companies are flocking to social media.

Harvard Business Review research numbers show companies are flocking to social media.

Chances are if I follow the company I already care for their products and what they have to say to me will be interesting enough for me to keep on following them. But, sometimes, things backfire and seeing stuff I don’t care so much about annoys me. I tend to participate in calls-to-action if they interest me, as in, sending pictures in reply to prompts, commenting on a favorite thing, pitching in with ideas when requested and, of course, contacting them when something is not to my liking.

But most companies still feel they under use the technology.

But most companies still feel they under use the technology.

I’ve found, and many others have too, that complaining through social media is the fastest way to get an answer from a company. I usually try to find chat areas in websites to complain about something and get fast answers, my second tool of choice is email, and my third is social media. Social media is faster, in most cases, but it really puts the issue “out there” so I have to be really angry to use it as a first recourse. From the corporate side of things, monitoring social media for customer problem interactions is a smart way to turn a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate. Resolving something fast and showing proactiveness can really turn the tables on a disgruntled customer.

Social media learning curve is still a big issue.

Social media learning curve is still a big issue.

As far was why social media is important to corporate entities I can say the key word is “two-way” communication and relevance. It allows them to build knowledge about their consumer base, bounce ideas off them, get feedback and position themselves are trusted sources of knowledge. By providing interesting information that is relevant to their customers’ interests they are able to build a relationship that wasn’t there before social media came along.

Raising awareness is still number one reason to use social media.

Raising awareness is still number one reason to use social media.

Harvard Business Review has some interesting insights into social media use by corporations: “Social media has arrived, but companies still aren’t sure what to do with it. Fifty-eight percent of companies are currently engaged in social networks like Facebook, microblogs like Twitter, and sharing multimedia on platforms such as YouTube – but research from the Harvard Business Review Analytics Services report “The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action” finds that much of the investment in social is future-oriented.” Several takes from this research are illustrating this post.

Promotion is still number one reason to use.

Promotion is still number one reason to use.

Social Media activism is also on the rise, cue in the ALS challenge data: “As of Monday, August 18, 2014 the ALS Association has received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 18); these donations have come from existing donors and 307,598 new donors to The Association.” In fact it’s been important for quite some time (Arab Spring, Kony, Bring Back our Girls, etc), just click on the name inside the brackets to see articles referring to these campaigns and their results.

From the comfort of your own home...

From the comfort of your own home…

Personally I’m a bit skeptical about using social media as the only strategy for an activism campaign, if you are lucky (and smart) you’ll be able to gain traction fact, maybe even raise some money, but will this last. Will it effectively lead to a permanent change in people’s behaviors and minds, will it keep you on the radar or will your fame only last until the next big thing comes along? Online activism has the big plus of people being able to join in from the comfort of their own homes, usually wearing their pajamas and sipping a warm latte. It makes them feel purposeful, like they really accomplished something and “see it wasn’t all that hard”. Activism the old way, running from the cops and being hosed down in front of a presidential palace was way harder, not to mention sitting down without food or a comfortable bed to sleep on for days protesting against the war or someone’s arrest. It was harder but it required a level of commitment to the cause that was sure to last past a wet cold night. Maybe I’m just to old and doubt the ability of clicking my way through true societal change. For me change requires more than clicks and shares, it requires creating the kind of physical unrest that shows commitment.

On the other hand...

On the other hand…

Social media is a great complimentary strategy to activism but if it’s its only arena of expression I’m sure whatever is achieved will not guarantee continued involvement with the cause. Having said this, the money ALS received is bound to make a difference for them, and if it doesn’t happen again next year it still is money in the bank for them today.