Key Metrics to Measure for Social Media

March 8, 2011

Customers are using social media to talk about your brand, whether or not your company chooses to participate in the discussion.

You know this. It’s why your have a company Facebook page and Twitter feed, where the chatter about your brand can be gratifying or cringe inducing. But how to make these conversations useful and integrated into a long-term strategic support plan.

What the Heck Do All These Conversations Mean?

While forward-thinking companies have integrated social media brand and customer engagement strategy, others are lagging behind. A recent survey by marketing services provider Alterian revealed that 70 percent of respondents either had little understanding of the social media conversations going on about their brands, or were using a few ad-hoc tools to try to get a handle on the buzz. Combine this with the fact that the majority of the respondents said that they struggled with metrics – only about a third said that they measured and analyzed all marketing efforts while the rest either had only basic analytical capabilities or struggled to tie results back to marketing campaigns – and it’s clear that many companies could benefit from tools to help them monitor and analyze the social media stream.

What are the key metrics to measure?

There are three levels of sophistication in analysis: engagement, sales funnel, and retention, according to Tristan Handy, CMO of social media management software platform Argyle Social, agrees on the importance of analysis.

“Peter Drucker said it best: ‘What gets measured gets done.’ What is a ‘good’ conversion rate without a target? What is a ‘bad’ sentiment rating without a trend line? Ultimately, the only way that an organization can improve its efficacy in any given activity is if it measures and incrementally improves. Social is no different,” he says.

The first step in measuring engagement is to perform a “brand audit”
Start searching for conversations around your brand, company, and competitors and identify the locations of these conversations and communities around the brand, according to Connie Bensen, director of social media and community strategy for Alterian. “This information will guide the strategy on which business functions in the company can benefit from a social media engagement.”

Radian6, a software company that provides dashboard reporting on these metrics, suggests that companies track mentions by isolating particular terms and tracking their occurrence over time, and uncover where mentions and engagement are highest.

The next level of analysis surrounds the sales funnel
“The process of becoming a customer…starts with clicks, moves to lead conversion rate, and ends with sales conversion rate,” Handy says. “These metrics present actionable information. With them, you can answer questions like: ‘How much should I spend on social media?’ and ‘How does social media compare to my other channels?’”

Finally, retention metrics measure the ability to retain and service the customers you have
Handy says retention metrics are the next generation of social media analysis.

Of course, customer service is key to increasing these retention rates and monitoring social media can alert you to a potential problem, keeping negative commentary to a minimum and reducing the strain on your call center. “The feature that graphs daily brand mentions is a fundamental public relations tool for brands; if there is an unanticipated spike in brand mentions this often signals a crisis,” says Alex Levine, social media strategist for PACO Communications. “If brands are monitoring these analytics, they can initiate crisis management tactics early on to extinguish the fire before it spreads.”

Additionally, most of these technological tools can provide both executive-level reporting (to inform strategic decisions) and service agent-level daily reporting (to provide actionable checklists for your customer service team.) “The daily report provides the details that agents will use on a daily basis to respond to complaints and concerns expressed on the social web,” Bensen says. “It should be integrated into the workflow just as the telephone, email and snail mail are utilized. Just as an agent comes to work and reviews the incoming communication from the traditional channels, they can also integrate the social channel.”

Learn more about how getting the most out of social media channels with our Guide to Supporting Your Customers With Twitter and our Guide to Multi-Channel Customer Support.

Photo courtesy of NessieNoodle.