If you’re going to participate, you must measure! That is the first rule in social media measurement otherwise known as web analytics. Your website is your basecamp and that is where most people start and end with social media measurement. It’s simply not enough. One of the strengths of social media is that it is inherently measureable. It allows you to adjust what you’re doing and do it better each step of the way.
As you set up your online presence strategy (will you use Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia?) keep in mind how you will keep track of how you’re doing. If you are tweeting several times throughout the day, how do you know which message is getting the attention? And what time of day reaches the most of your community? When you start each social media account, you need to ask yourself, “How will this be measured?” Then set up a system to allow the info to be pulled easily and routinely. Many online methods of reporting are free; you need not pay anything.
Here are a few choices:
Google Webmaster Tools
This measures your website traffic, metadata and sites linking in. As I said, your website is basecamp. You need to cover this well.
Web Stats plugins
Sometimes your publishing software will have a web stats plugin that can be used to cross-monitor how your website is doing. It sits on your dashboard and is readily available at any time. I highly recommend using it.
“Your Weekly Facebook Page Update” is delivered right to your email account for all accounts that list your role as an administrator. It will show monthly active users, people that ‘like’ your page, number of wall posts and comments, and number of visits. It is a nice snapshot that shows if you’re gaining in stature.
There are many different programs that can help you sort out Twitter. I am in a love/hate relationship with most of them. I’ve found just using my basic Twitter account is pretty straightforward and usually all I need. (I also find FriendorFollow.com and TweetDeck useful, but those do not really help with measurement). I find that Twitter is the one social media tool that is used primarily at face value. The purpose is to generate excitement and rapid discussion. The important metrics are how many people follow you, how often you are retweeted and how often and which of your tweets are ‘opened’.
The BIG idea here is, if you plan to join a social media platform, then also plan a method to track your results. Social media is measurable, but it takes some diligence and ability to interpret the data. When you learn to do that successfully, then you’re on your way to a systematic approach to building your community.
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