Editor's note: As 2010 winds down, we're celebrating the Best of 2010, our top 10 most popular columns of the year on Search Engine Watch, as determined by our readers. Every day over the next two weeks, we'll repost the most popular columns of the year, starting at No. 10 and counting down to No. 1 on Dec. 31. Our countdown continues today with our No. 4 column, which originally was published on July 26. Enjoy!
A host of social media monitoring tools are available to monitor conversations that are relevant to your brand or company. Many of these tools also now offer built-in engagement components that allow you to easily engage in relevant conversations. In addition to ease of use, another key benefit of these tools is that you can also track and measure the conversations you participate in through one easy solution.
This makes social media engagement much easier to manage, but a key aspect is still missing. To fully understand the impact of your social media efforts, you need a true social media measurement dashboard.
Because there aren't any truly robust tools that go beyond monitoring social media to measuring your social media efforts, you'll likely need to create your own dashboard for now. The following are six key metrics that should be part of your social media measurement dashboard.
1. Gross Views
Gross views is the aggregate of views across your various social media channels. It represents the number of times users were exposed to your brand through your social media channels. The calculation will vary depending on the channels that you use, but some of the metrics that go into this calculation include:
- Facebook page views
- Blog page views
- YouTube channel views
- YouTube video views
- Flickr photo views
This is a calculation of anyone who has explicitly expressed an interest in your brand or company. By expressing their interest, the user has taken the next step beyond just being exposed to your brand or company to now having a relationship where a conversation can take place.
Some of the metrics that will fall under the connection calculation include:
- Blog subscribers
- Facebook fans/likes
- Twitter followers
- YouTube friends and subscribers
- LinkedIn group members
3. Audience Engagements
Audience engagement is a measure of how actively your audience is engaging with or talking about your brand or company. A few of the key metrics that go into the calculation include:
- Blog comments
- Twitter retweets and @ tweets
- Facebook interactions
- YouTube interactions
- Social media brand mentions
4. Social Media Referrals
Likely one of your ultimate goals of a social media campaign is to drive visitors to a site where a conversion can take place. Measuring social media referrals to your site is thus a critical component of a social media measurement dashboard.
In order to properly measure social media referrals, there will need to be some set up and configuration with your web analytics tool. Once this has been completed, you'll be able to measure social media referrals that can be tied directly to your efforts as well as social media referrals that aren't directly attributed to your efforts.
5. Social Media Conversions
You'll likely be judged based on the business value that you deliver through your social media efforts, so just showing metrics (e.g., connections and audience engagement) won't impress your superiors. You need to show how these types of metrics translate into conversions that provide value to your company.
If you've properly set up and configured your web analytics tool to measure social media referrals and you've defined your site goals, then you're ready to measure conversions. You should measure conversions from each social media channel and then roll it up into total conversions that can be attributed to social media.
6. My Engagements
This is a measure of your activity within the social media space and is increasingly a type of metric that social media monitoring tools are including. Looking at how this metric correlates with the other metrics included in your dashboard can begin to show the impact that your social media efforts are having.
Some of the metrics that should be included in the engagement calculation are:
- Internal blog posts
- External blog and forum comments
- Facebook posts
- Twitter retweets, @ tweets, and general tweets
- YouTube video posts
While these six metrics in a dashboard aren't going to show a complete picture of your social media efforts, they will put you on the right path to justifying the resources that are being directed towards social media.
Your social media dashboard should include additional metrics that are custom to your business needs and how you're engaging in social media. By creating your own social media dashboard that has the ability to show the impact of your social media efforts, you'll be in great position to bide time until a truly robust social media measurement tool is available.