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December 16th, 2009

3 Types of Social Media Measurements

Alright, so in my previous post, I tried to setup a basic framework for thinking about program measurement, much of which I argued should start with the organization of three big data piles, pulled from: 1) Your platform analytics; 2) Your brand monitoring metrics; and 3) Your competitive benchmarks. Now, assuming you can wrap your arms around these data sources, it begs two obvious questions: What types of spot measurements can you begin to calculate? And how the hell do you that?

I’ll give you three examples of the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ for corporate programs, but know that there’s more to it than what you see here, stuff I’ll just have to dig into with future posts.

Example #1: Discussion Volume

Let’s start with an easy one. It’s a simple measure of how often a topic (e.g., your brand, product, service, etc.) is mentioned in online chatter. To figure this out, you need brand monitoring metrics (and yes, for accuracy and sanity sake, you should consider a paid service). Discussion Volume is usually captured in the form of a percentage in relationship to total market discussion (e.g., all relevant discussions about your industry, product category, service type, etc.). So the formula you use might look something like this:


Example #2: Market Participation

A little harder. It’s a measure of how many brand conversations a company proactively participated in over a given period. To figure this out, you’ll need platform analytics to capture relevant data points like author comments, twitter replies, direct messages, post retorts, etc., and note: you’ll also need to know your Discussion Volume (as outlined above). This is important because the interrelation of spot measurements actually helps with larger program measurements, if that make sense. Again, something I’ll need to dig into with future posts. So the formula you use for Market Participation might look something like this:


Example #3: Market Authority

This one’s much harder to do (and define). But for now, to keep it simple, consider it a measure of how often a corporate platform (e.g., newsroom, company blog, twitter account, etc) is cited as a source for information by others. To figure this out, you’ll need platform analytics to track things like referral links and brand monitoring metrics to track things like retweets and mentions. Now, some people will stop right here, do some basic addition and call it a day. And, you know, that’s not terrible. What you’ll end up with is a sum of “instances of authority” over a period of time. But in fairness, that’s not really authority, that’s popularity. The only way to determine authority is to weigh the quality/importance of each citing source. Academia taught Google that, and they in turn taught everyone else. Now there are a lot of ways to do this, but the one I like involves developing a scorecard of sources important for your business and creating, essentially, a multiplier for each. Case in point, if you’re a consumer electronics company, one inbound link from Engadget to your blog could be considered 2-3 times more authoritative than, say, several retweets. So the formula you use for Market Authority might look something like this:


I just picked 3 examples of spot measurements here, but I’d argue there are actually several more must-have for all programs, and even a few larger (macro) measurements you can only unwrap once you’ve done the math on stuff like what I’m sharing above. It’s by no means a perfect science, I know that, and it’s for that reason that I and others at Voce are always looking for ways stretch and pull the data we collect to try and inform everything we do each day. Let us know what you think.

Related Posts: Understanding the Big and Small of Social Media Measurement A Basic Social Media Measurement Data-Set Blog Post Touch-Point and Interaction Measurement

About the Author
Mike Manuel is the GM of Voce Connect, the social media marketing and web development arm of Voce Communications. In between managing this team and overseeing Voce's digital programs, he'll post a thought or two on mike-manuel.com and via @mmanuel on Twitter.

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Add Your Comment6 Responses to “3 Types of Social Media Measurements”

mark bjornsgaard on December 17th, 2009 at 4:37 am

mike – I very much enjoy reading your blog – but this all still feels complicated for less web savvy clients to get their heads around

All new “social media” metrics as mere sign posts to actual outcomes – “how many widgets extra did we sell?” – Ultimately that’s all anyone cares about isn’t it? If others want to figure out whether retweets squared, divided by community size halved indicates a possible 0.001% increase in sales – fine – let ‘em – the fact is – data is tricky – unless clients have a vast data set (which v. few of them do) – which gives them real surety the insights they’re getting from their data are real – most default to their comfort zone.

I’ll give you an example – when I first started working for hedge funds – and looking at market data – I used to backtest my models a couple of years. Pretty soon I figured out that wasn’t anywhere near enough time to give me enough confidence in the models I was building. As the raw power of the PC increased, I extended timeframes again and again, until over the years I was able to look at gigabytes of data – over 20 years.

What’s my point?

Without a big enough data set, and enough of a historical timeframe in which to phrase your findings – all the complicated measures and formula’s aren’t worth a dime. Clients – because they’re human – will always default to the measurement criteria they understand as the means by which they assess this activity – visitors and ultimately sales are still the only real measurement we all need for the moment.

More on my thoughts here http://www.slideshare.net/savioursofpop

Michael Fraietta on December 21st, 2009 at 10:48 am

Interesting concept. Perhaps this falls under popularity not authority, but maybe include the number of new or lost fans or followers because of that particular campaign? Also, sentiment of the comments, @replys & posts could be calculated as well to make it even more complex but give you a more accurate analysis.

Michael Fraietta Filtrbox Community Manager & Chief Listener @MichaelFraietta

Melanie Baker on December 21st, 2009 at 5:40 pm

I find these sorts of posts fascinating, since it really illustrates the rather difficult row to hoe a lot of companies and agencies have developed for themselves. Definitely doesn’t look like there’s One True Formula for measurement yet. (I’m glad we don’t have to fight the fight of differentiating ourselves as another brand monitoring solution.) 🙂

Of course, since discovery, tracking, and engagement based on your own content is where we spend our energies, I see a place for that in monitoring as well, not just doing the external stuff. This is assuming companies create their own content, and it’s not just ads or social media campaigns of various kinds, etc.

Of course, fundamentally, people will always be human and a little messy, so I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to get to a perfect point of measurement of these activities, but I like seeing the growing sophistication we’re developing in thinking about them and tackling them.


Melanie @postrank

Mike Manuel on December 21st, 2009 at 11:39 pm

@mark, two counter-points to consider…

[1] don’t over-complicate the math here, everything mentioned in this post is solved with basic arithmetic. also, my bigger point is that with the right data (and the right tools in place to collect it), a variety of what have otherwise been ‘elusive spot measurements’ can begin to be calculated.

[2] SM programs aren’t always about sales (omg, gasp) — they are, however, always about goals — and those goals will fluctuate. now, if your goal is sales, and only sales, maybe an approach like what you’re describing does the job. period. but if i’m a company that has other goals too, say, i want understand the tonality of discussions, or boost my team’s engagement levels with the market, or i want to accelerate how quickly my message gets to market — you’ll need (and want) a better measuring stick than what you’re suggesting.

thanks, btw, for sharing your thoughts on this, your perspective is genuinely refreshing — and i don’t mean that in a f-u you’re refreshing but wrong sort of way, you’re sharing some good stuff here;)

Mike Manuel on December 21st, 2009 at 11:42 pm

@ michael, thanks for that, for business reasons, i’m withholding some of the data we use to calculate the stuff above, but you get the gist — and yeah, we absolutely incorporate what you’re suggesting into our calculations here.

Mike Manuel on December 21st, 2009 at 11:56 pm

@ melanie, thanks for chiming in. i actually think what you guys are doing at postrank, by combining on-domain/off-domain analytics is rounding out your service in a way that makes it far more appealing for data collection purposes…