7 techniques for measuring your social media efforts

It’s hardly neurosurgery, but it does take some initial effort and ongoing diligence. Then, it’s all about impressing your boss.

We’re guessing that—if it isn’t already on your to-do list (or quarterly performance objectives)—putting in place some sort of measurement is one of most communicators’ New Year’s resolutions. With the information in this article, that’s a resolution that will be easy to keep—or at least a whole lot easier than those other resolutions you made in the past few weeks and probably ditched already.

Public relations or social media measurement doesn’t have to be a big deal. We’ve rounded up plenty of ways you can get started without spending much time or money at all. For several of our tips below, the service is free and the data get delivered right to your inbox.

Here are a few quick and painless techniques to get you started:

1. Get with Google:

  • Sign up for Google Alerts for your organization or brand, and for at least three of your competitors or peers. Then tell your boss you have installed a crisis alert monitoring system.
  • Put Google Analytics on every website that you control. (The instructions need a serious usability makeover, but once you get the code, you just paste it into all your pages. Cake.) Then tell your boss you don’t need no stinking WebTrends. (Actually, you probably do need WebTrends if you have to do advanced analyses—it’s much more robust and customizable—but we’re talking quick and easy here.)

2. Time for Twitter:

  • Get yourself on Twitter. You know you have been thinking about it. Give it a shot, and see what happens.
  • Even if you don’t want to start tweeting yourself, you can still set up an RSS feed for a Twitter Search on your brand(s), your competition, and anything else you want to keep track of. Tell your boss you’ve implemented a Twitter monitoring system.
  • For you heavy Twitter users, see how influential you—or your boss—is on Twitter: Go to Twitalyzer.com.

3. Educate yourself:

4. New media meets old school:

  • Set up a free Survey Monkey account, and start surveying your constituencies.
  • Back to basics: Use Survey Monkey or Zoomerang to measure your relationships. Send out a survey to assess the level of trust, commitment and satisfaction they feel about your brand.

5. More easy online stats:

6. All together now: The dashboard

Now put together a dashboard to help you track your data and progress. Plus, it will impress the heck out of your boss. Whatever metrics you actually have, put them in an Excel spread sheet and set up Key Performance Indicators. For some ideas on how to set it up and several sample charts and tables, download this sample engagement dashboard. (And for more ideas on how to use the sample dashboard, read No. 7. below.) Update your data and KPIs each month, adjust your program(s) as needed, and progress confidently toward success.

7. Extra credit: Track your engagement

Engagement is the really big payoff. When you translate your clicks, friends, visitors and other data into an engagement framework, then you have a much better sense of what kind of a relationship you have with people—and whether they are becoming more likely to buy or donate or otherwise show up in your revenue stream. First, study up just a little on engagement by reading this excerpt from Katie Paine’s upcoming book: “Online Engagement and How To Measure It.” As you read it, consider how your own data demonstrate how your customers become more engaged with your products or organization. Now, if you haven’t done so already, download the sample engagement dashboard, and take a look at the first chart.

You want to know whether you are moving people along the engagement spectrum, from less engaged to more engaged. So, set up the tables in your dashboard with columns not just for the total number of likes, comments, followers and other stats, but also for the increase or decrease in those stats from month to month. Now you are tracking engagement.

Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, and publisher of The Measurement Standard newsletter, in which this article first appeared.

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