Measuring Success in Social Media

I laugh when I see the term, “social media expert. Let’s be honest. It’s an emerging field and the only thing that makes someone an expert is that they have labeled themselves as such and they read Mashable and Seth Godin.

With that in mind, I’ll just point out that for the last two years I’ve gotten paid to handle social media. I don’t know if that makes me an expert in the field, but it does mean that I’m employed in the field. (And I read Mashable and Seth Godin just for good measure.)

So, how do I measure success?

False positives

  • Size of following. Having 25,000 followers on Twitter or 10,000 fans of your Facebook page doesn’t mean jack.
  • Contest excitement. I love hosting contests as much as the next guy, but hosting a big contest doesn’t mean jack.
  • Being active. Utilizing the tools of social media is important, but just showing up doesn’t mean jack.
  • Atta boys. [Or atta girls] When you first get started everyone in your organization will be excited, but that doesn’t mean jack.
  • Sales or lead generation. This may make the boss happy, but in most cases it doesn’t mean jack.

True positives

  • Engagement. Are your followers, fans, subscribers listening to the stuff you send out in a measurable way? Do they click on links you recommend? Do they comment on stuff you post? Do they open the emails you send? Having a large following is only as valuable as your ability to engage those people. Otherwise, your just another message they are ignoring. I’d rather have 100 engaged Twitter followers than 25,000 who ignore me. What to measure: comments, likes, open rates, click rates, number of clicks, mentions on fan/followers feeds.
  • Users who contribute. Is your effort a two-way conversation? Traditional marketing is about pushing a message. Social media is about pulling a response. It’s shocking to me how many organizations have large followings but only push. And they wonder why they think their social media efforts are a waste of money? They are! What to measure: Submissions, Facebook messages, Twitter direct messages, unsolicited or solicited ideas.
  • Repeaters. This post is the perfect example. When I press publish on this blog post, my own network will draw a couple hundred visitors. But this post will be read several thousand times in just 7 days. How did that happen? Repeaters. What to measure: Facebook shares, Twitter retweets, add-to-this analytics, trackbacks, blog posts about your content/product/service.


10 responses to “Measuring Success in Social Media”

  1. Tracy Clement Avatar

    You had me at “I laugh when I see the term, ‘social media expert.’” I have had endless, similar conversations with colleagues and clients. Entertaining read with great content. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dylan Avatar

    dude, fantastic post! very thorough and well written!

  3. John Lovell Avatar

    Thanks for this Adam! It’s very helpful to those of us who AREN’T Social Media Experts. Although I’m our student pastor, it seems to put me in the “You know all these new things better than us” category, so social media falls into my lap. These are some very objective ways that I can rate the success of how we’re doing, instead of just number of visits. You should do a series of these kinds of blogs, for those of us just getting started into this! Thanks man!

  4. adam mclane Avatar

    John- I’ve got some articles coming out along these lines with Immerse Mag. You might want to subscribe.

  5. Ashley Smith Avatar

    Adam! LOVED LOVED LOVED this post! Engagement is key and I love how you give tools on how to measure- you may not label yourself as a “social media expert,” but you are our hero!

  6. Adam McLane Avatar

    Someone on Facebook asked for what tools I use to measure this. Actually, I typically measure with a google doc and collect data from various tools. It seems to get the job done.

  7. C. McNair Wilson Avatar

    I came. I saw. I read. I commented. I linked to my Twittlings. I “shared” with my Face-friends and Face-fans. Time to go Godin. THNX.

  8. adam mclane Avatar

    Hey there C. McNair- I think this is your first comment on my blog. Welcome to the conversation!

  9. Nick Whittenhall Avatar

    Thanks, Adam, for this. I’ve always struggled with the whole social media thing. I seem to have the 100 follows that ignore. I attempt to put out conversation starters but always end up in failure. I guess the trick is to keep at, right? Maybe someday the conversations will start. I may just have to subscribe to that Immerse Journal you mentioned to really get things started.

    Thanks again for your “expertise”

  10. roy Avatar

    Hey Adam
    using this post for a discussion on social media this wednesday.
    Fantastic stuff

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