100 Ways to Measure Social Media

Originally published in MediaPost's Social Media Insider

If there's anyone out there left who says you can't measure social media, here are a hundred answers.

At most of the events I've been to lately, measurement continues to be a hot topic. The first question that comes up is, "What can I measure?" That's where this cheat sheet can come in handy: a list of 100 thought-starters.

Some entries here can be interpreted several ways. Depending on how you define them, some of these metrics may seem redundant, while others may seem so broad that they can be broken out further. Many of these can be combined with each other to create new metrics that can then be tracked over time. It's a start, though, so dive in and consider which ones may apply to programs you're working on.

1.     Volume of consumer-created buzz for a brand based on number of posts

2.     Amount of buzz based on number of impressions

3.     Shift in buzz over time

4.     Buzz by time of day / daypart

5.     Seasonality of buzz

6.     Competitive buzz

7.     Buzz by category / topic

8.     Buzz by social channel (forums, social networks, blogs, Twitter, etc)

9.     Buzz by stage in purchase funnel (e.g., researching vs. completing transaction vs. post-purchase)

10.  Asset popularity (e.g., if several videos are available to embed, which is used more)

11.  Mainstream media mentions

12.  Fans

13.  Followers

14.  Friends

15.  Growth rate of fans, followers, and friends

16.  Rate of virality / pass-along

17.  Change in virality rates over time

18.  Second-degree reach (connections to fans, followers, and friends exposed – by people or impressions)

19.  Embeds / Installs

20.  Downloads

21.  Uploads

22.  User-initiated views (e.g., for videos)

23.  Ratio of embeds or favoriting to views

24.  Likes / favorites

25.  Comments

26.  Ratings

27.  Social bookmarks

28.  Subscriptions (RSS, podcasts, video series)

29.  Pageviews (for blogs, microsites, etc)

30.  Effective CPM based on spend per impressions received

31.  Change in search engine rankings for the site linked to through social media

32.  Change in search engine share of voice for all social sites promoting the brand

33.  Increase in searches due to social activity

34.  Percentage of buzz containing links

35.  Links ranked by influence of publishers

36.  Percentage of buzz containing multimedia (images, video, audio)

37.  Share of voice on social sites when running earned and paid media in same environment

38.  Influence of consumers reached

39.  Influence of publishers reached (e.g., blogs)

40.  Influence of brands participating in social channels

41.  Demographics of target audience engaged with social channels

42.  Demographics of audience reached through social media

43.  Social media habits/interests of target audience

44.  Geography of participating consumers

45.  Sentiment by volume of posts

46.  Sentiment by volume of impressions

47.  Shift in sentiment before, during, and after social marketing programs

48.  Languages spoken by participating consumers

49.  Time spent with distributed content

50.  Time spent on site through social media referrals

51.  Method of content discovery (search, pass-along, discovery engines, etc)

52.  Clicks

53.  Percentage of traffic generated from earned media

54.  View-throughs

55.  Number of interactions

56.  Interaction/engagement rate

57.  Frequency of social interactions per consumer

58.  Percentage of videos viewed

59.  Polls taken / votes received

60.  Brand association

61.  Purchase consideration

62.  Number of user-generated submissions received

63.  Exposures of virtual gifts

64.  Number of virtual gifts given

65.  Relative popularity of content

66.  Tags added

67.  Attributes of tags (e.g., how well they match the brand's perception of itself)

68.  Registrations from third-party social logins (e.g., Facebook Connect, Twitter OAuth)

69.  Registrations by channel (e.g., Web, desktop application, mobile application, SMS, etc)

70.  Contest entries

71.  Number of chat room participants

72.  Wiki contributors

73.  Impact of offline marketing/events on social marketing programs or buzz

74.  User-generated content created that can be used by the marketer in other channels

75.  Customers assisted

76.  Savings per customer assisted through direct social media interactions compared to other channels (e.g., call centers, in-store)

77.  Savings generated by enabling customers to connect with each other

78.  Impact on first contact resolution (FCR) (hat tip to Forrester Research for that one)

79.  Customer satisfaction

80.  Volume of customer feedback generated

81.  Research & development time saved based on feedback from social media

82.  Suggestions implemented from social feedback

83.  Costs saved from not spending on traditional research

84.  Impact on online sales

85.  Impact on offline sales

86.  Discount redemption rate

87.  Impact on other offline behavior (e.g., TV tune-in)

88.  Leads generated

89.  Products sampled

90.  Visits to store locator pages

91.  Conversion change due to user ratings, reviews

92.  Rate of customer/visitor retention

93.  Impact on customer lifetime value

94.  Customer acquisition / retention costs through social media

95.  Change in market share

96.  Earned media's impact on results from paid media

97.  Responses to socially posted events

98.  Attendance generated at in-person events

99.  Employees reached (for internal programs)

100.  Job applications received

There you go. I welcome other entries in the comments. It's also just the start of the answer to the broader question: "How do I measure it?" Ultimately, you need to start with figuring out your business objectives and then apply these metrics accordingly.

30 thoughts on “100 Ways to Measure Social Media

  1. I’m with Ari, I’d like to know the How too – and how you suggest measuring this.
    Many of the items listed here I could see someone showing as
    a metric if they were engaged to guide a business on social media, but
    frankly, I’d be asking the owner:
    “What makes that (X) important and where precisely is the value in that to your business?”
    Lindy

  2. Bill, thanks for your thoughts here. 
    Sales is of course a great metric, and you could argue customer service doesn't matter because that comes down to sales too (e.g., higher retention, profit margins, etc). But, there are two issues with that: a high percentage of marketers are not judged directly on sales, and an accordingly high percentage can't directly trace the results of their labor to sales. Additionally, with social media, for large brands budgets are still too small currently to judge their impact and marketers need other metrics beyond that. Even with something as celebrated as the Old Spice program, the TV spots are amazing, but so was their PR. The bit where the character responded to people's tweets on YouTube as a tiny part of it but generated a ton of buzz. It'll be extremely difficult to measure how much that YouTube+Twitter component had impact, and whether that impact came from YouTube, Twitter buzz, Facebook shares, or the blogger and mainstream media coverage of it all, but the marketers can amass enough information to know if it worked or not.

  3. This is a very comprehensive list, but I think what many, if not most, business leaders want to know is how to measure social media’s impact on sales and customer service?
    That’s all I got. A “top 2.” 🙂
    Seriously, a lot of your list seems to me to be “in between” social media and profits, right? Like “buzz.”
    Does anybody even know how to measure buzz, and – more importantly – whether “buzz” impacts the bottom line? My guess is that sometimes buzz matters, sometimes it doesn’t. So going after buzz may or may not matter, except that you will have spent money on trying to create it and will have NOT spent money on other, more profitable ventures.
    I don’t know. Thoughts?

  4. Good list. You could add # of Mayor badges on Foursquare 😉
    I agree with some of the others in that this is good but will overwhelm the common social media and biz leader. As I am sure you know there are endless variations and correlations that are a data junkie’s dream!
    Do you have any recommendations on social measurement tools as well as when to use a tool? For larger implementations WebTrends is great and offers tools that also take into consideration what phase of social media adoption and execution you are in (i.e., listening, engaging, refining etc.) What are your thoughts on Radian6?

  5. Thanks for your comment, Fredrik. I did include change in search engine rankings but didn't mention Google specifically with PageRank. You could definitely break PageRank out as another metric if it's something you monitor closely, absolutely. 

  6. Hey Thom,
    I am from Vetra Analytics. We are researching on the social media attribution models ourselves are quite interested to explore with you on any partnership opportunities. We have done several interactive attribution models with ClearSaleing and were covered in the Forrester report on digital interactive attribution of October 2009.
    Best Regards
    Ravi

  7. This list is great. I have taken a great interest in learning more about marketing through social media, and this article at least gives me ideas on how to see the fruits of the labor. I will for sure be back to view more of your blog. Thank you David

  8. This list is great! I’m sorry that I didn’t discover it sooner. It will definitely be included in in my 2010 social media strategy as a checklist for review. There are so many mechanisms for measurement that we never think of, it’s great to finally have a comprehensive list to work with. Thanks again!
    Tessa Carroll
    http://www.blogs.vbpoutsourcing.com

  9. < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    I'm totally on board, Mike. There's a lot of the offline to online and then online to offline that should be tracked where they make sense. Thanks for the feedback.

  10. Hi David,
    Thank you so much for writing this post!
    I’ve always felt that as a business professional one requires accountability from one’s suppliers and employees, and is accountable to them and to one’s clients.
    I’m proud of this accountability – In Yiddish it’s called being a “Mensch”.
    One of the reasons I was originally drawn to web-based marketing was my realization that here, finally, was a marketing platform that was bullsh*t proof in a way that no platform or media ever was before. Web analytics guarantee marketeers are immediately and unequivocally accountable for the strategies they recommend and promote. I think this is “A Good Thing”.
    It should come as no surprise therefore that I’ve always had a suspicion posts proclaiming: “Social Media Can’t Be Measured”, might be slightly self serving. As in written by social marketeers in need of excuses…
    At the end of your excellent list you ask:
    “How do I measure it?”.
    Funnily, about an hour before I ran into your post on the 360i blog, I published a list of a few tools I find helpful for collecting Social Media performance data (http://blog.treepodia.com/2009/11/measuring-social-media-roi-can-it-be-done).
    What is the final ROI for Social Media activities?
    That’s up to each and every one of us to figure out according to our goals and investment.
    I can only hope my list of tools makes the task a tad easier…
    : )
    Cheers,
    Mike
    @treepodia

  11. great post and breakdown of all of the ways to measure your social media reception (not using ROI since people immediately think $). But hey, if the holy grail of a sale comes from it then there you go. It is important to measure the effort, understand how to segment your audience and what is successful and what isn’t.
    Not sure if it makes the list but what about “offline to online conversions”. The migration of folks that were once offline and are now online specifically because of your online engagement.

  12. < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    Thanks so much for your feedback and thoughtful reply here. Cost savings over traditional research is in there but I don't think I spelled out focus groups. We're on the same page though, and I'm open to any other metrics relating to improvements around customer service, whether it's efficiency, savings, number of people assisted by channel, etc.

  13. Hi David,
    This has to be one of the best efforts in aggregating the ways in which social media can be measured.As the social buzz is becoming more and more important everyday, it feels like there should be separate departments in firms to implement these strategies of measuring social media.

  14. Love the list of 100 David – just to prove a point that “just in case a Top 10 list doesn’t cut it”:)
    I’m sure it’s buried somewhere but I would add – Cost savings compared to conducting expensive and often time draining focus groups (i.e., Facebook polls). If used appropriately I’ve seen companies reduce budget significantly by cutting out a previous spend due to the great functionality enabled by social.
    Keep up the the great conversations…glad I could be a part of this one!

  15. < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    There are quite a few ways to do so. Buzz is really shorthand for the number of mentions of a brand or topic. And I like to use buzz broadly sometimes to denote chatter across forums, blogs, Twitter, social networks, etc.

  16. < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    I don't think any question is more important than another, but if you don't get to the HOW, all of this is worthless. I already went over my word count though for this one. 🙂

  17. The focus of your list is on the WHAT: 100 ways to measure. The implication is measurement is the WHY to use the WHAT. You don’t mention the HOW. So, I wonder from your perspective if the WHY or the HOW is more important.

  18. Hey, David —
    I’m with Thom. It’s a good list.
    And quite thorough. Initially I was wondering, as Thom was, where “sales” was on the list. But then I got to #95, “change in market share,” and felt that settled the question.
    I was also looking for any actions listed that might show changes in measurable interest in a site’s content, such as bookmarking, printing or sharing via “Share This” (which is a social action, I know, unless it’s sharing with Email-a-Friend).
    I’m using the term “interest” as it’s defined in the web metric “Content Interest Index.”
    The premise in this case would be this: Anyone directed from social activity to a page of a site might be so intrigued by its content as to somehow preserve it. They could preserve it by printing it, bookmarking (socially or privately), or share it with a friend, colleague or family member via email. My theory continues to be that measuring these actions over time and providing them to the content manager for each page of content could potentially improve the engagement quality of these pages. That would lead to some level of increased sales, especially if there is a call-to-action embedded in the page.
    So here’s an “interest” action not listed: Hitting the “printer-friendly-format” button of a page.
    Perhaps your #101 could be, simply, “Printing content” — a quaintly analog action that is still taken by more consumers than we would imagine. And I should know; I’ve been looking at that stats. 😉

  19. Terrific list, David. +1
    #76 struck a particular chord with me: “Savings per customer assisted through direct social media interactions compared to other channels (e.g., call centers, in-store)”
    Whenever someone uses the “What’s the ROI?” or tries to immediately tie social media back to sales, I always pull out a variation of this from the proverbial ROI deck of cards: “Savings from reduced call-center volume based on social media customer service or consumers helping each other.” To find this, you simply compare call center costs from one fixed point to another (e.g., Q1 to Q2, month-to-month, etc.)
    Bottom line, social media ROI affects the bottom line just like other marketing disciplines. While revenue is debatable, people have a very difficult time arguing with customer service as a KPI.

  20. < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    Thanks, Thom. I do have online and offline sales on the list – but it is a LONG list, and I'll be the first to admit I can't keep track of everything on it.

  21. David
    This is great … let’s go ahead and add the holy grail: sales from social.
    We’ve got a social attribution model that tracks and attributes targeted behaviors, e.g. user activations, sales etc. based upon three degrees of social specificity — from white lists of social domain referrals baked into the web analytics thru to short URLs embedded and tracked within distribute social assets.
    Thom

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