Monday, February 17, 2014

Social Media: Understanding Analysis Measurements and Tools

The explosion of social media has changed the way in which we communicate and many industries are trying to catch up. Consider for a moment that people and brands send almost 350 million tweets and share more than 684,000 bits of content on Facebook per day. People upload approximately 72 hours of video to YouTube every minute, and Google receives over two million search queries every minute. [1] Companies realize that social media is important, it is a way for them to communicate with and engage stakeholders. In fact nearly 90% of fortune 500 companies are using social media. [2] Social media offers a unique opportunity to reach key stakeholders in a more targeted way, however as social media continues to evolve companies often fail to measure the results of the social media campaigns that they run. The amount of data created by social media is enormous, making it very difficult to analyze. If companies do not understand the actual meaning of social media measurements and the measurement tools available to them it is difficult for them to calculate the benefit they gained with the help of the campaign that was ran.

Understanding On-Site vs Off-Site Measurements

Before any social media campaign/interaction is created it’s important to understand how to successfully measure your efforts and impact. Social media metrics can essentially be classified into two categories; on-site and off-site metrics. On-site metrics refer to referral traffic and actions on your site, while off-site metrics refer to actions on a particular social media site.  On-site metrics are typically available on the social media platform being used and will include metrics such as: [3][4]
  •          Number of shares, likes, votes, stories posted, etc.
  •          Comments, messages, and views
  •          User Demographic
  •          App specific details for mobile users
Each social media platform should have its own defined set of metrics. These metrics can help
to quantify media efforts; however this is only a part of the puzzle. We also need to account for the other social platforms than the one being used to run the campaign. For example, a user may see a campaign run on LinkedIn and shares this information on their Facebook page. It’s important that these users that are landing from other social media platforms are accounted for in order to more effectively evaluate the impact of the campaigns run.

Available Tools

As with any task that needs to be completed it’s important to have the right tools in the toolbox. There are many tools available to assist companies in measuring and optimizing the impact of social media channels and campaigns, providing both on-site and off-site metrics. Although there are many tools available I will briefly discuss two available digital analytics tools specifically related to social media metrics, one of which is free and the other  is a paid tool.

Google Analytics is a free tool that gives access to a variety of social reports which can be used to see how visitors from different social media platforms behave on a company’s site and determine the conversion value of visitors from those different social sites. The tool also provides insight into social plugins to help determine what content published is most commonly shared or recommended and on what social platforms they are being shared. The below YouTube video gives you a quick walk-through of the tool's social media reports. [5]

IBM Digital Analytics for Social Media formerly Coremetrics® Social Analytics is a paid tool 
that provides you with a centralized user interface for analyzing social media channels and campaigns. This tool measures social media as a marketing channel providing metrics related to value and type of traffic supplied by social sites. [6] This tool offers many of the same features as Google Analytics however those who have used both tools state that IBM Digital Analytics provides higher support and implementation satisfaction in comparison to Google Analytics. [7]


Social media has changed the communication landscape, and the way in which we interact with each other, it is powerful when content is shared and communities are established. Although there is not a one size fits all solution when trying to measure the success of a social media campaign and there is not a set of common metric standards that fits into all industries. An understanding of the social media measurements and available tools will assist companies in gaining insights into the volumes of data created by social media interactions.   


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