Social Media Metrics and Analysis

Posted by pwitman - November 13, 2010

Source: Marc Smith, (license at

Facebook is all the rage among consumers – we know that from discussions among friends and around the water cooler. Companies are trying to manage how Facebook is used in the workplace – both from a “time used” viewpoint, but more importantly from a “what are our employees saying about our company” perspective. And, most importantly, how do we leverage this social networking thing to our company’s (or celebrity’s) advantage?

I ran across a report from SAS, based on an eMetrics conference session in May, 2010, in San Jose. This came up in some consulting I do for White Glove Productions (, a small company that focuses on providing fan sites that celebrities can control directly – giving fans access to “behind the scenes” activities and comments from the celebs.

The authors (Katie Delahaye Paine and Mark Chaves) make several interesting observations:

1.       Hits are a passé way of identifying impact of your web presence. It might measure the number of people (or scraping robots!) that have visited your page, but the authors claim there was no reliable way to translate those hits into real value for the company. Paine goes so far as to offer an acronym for “hits” – “how idiots track success”. (Yes, I know that hits roughly correlate to “impressions”, from the marketing world, but the authors are questioning whether online “impressions” carry the same weight as those offline.)

2.       It’s now all about engagement – can you get those folks who have had an impression of your brand to respond to it in some way? Click on a link, post a comment, participate in a forum, etc. Paine suggests a taxonomy of engagement, as follows:

a.       Searchers – those who scan online sources, but don’t pay much attention to the social media sites. You also don’t get much information about them – just perhaps a count of unique visitors.

b.      Lurkers – those who observe social media interactions, but don’t participate.

c.       Casuals – these folks participate a little in social media – they might follow your page, become your friend on Facebook, follower on Twitter, etc.

d.      Actives – regularly post comments and engage in conversations, “retweet” to others, and so on.

e.      Defenders – those who actively promote and support the brand, whatever it may be.

3.       It’s going to be increasing important for commercial enterprises using social media to clearly define their ROI – or in Paine’s terms, explicitly defining the R and the I.

a.       The Return (R) might be measured by how people engage – brand awareness, improving the company’s perception, allowing fans to interact with one another, etc.

b.      The Investment (I) needs to be measured and tracked as well – it’s not free, even if Facebook doesn’t charge you to post content there. It still costs staff time to interact with those visitors, and perhaps development time to create content to share with your audience.

They go on to identify further steps to measure impact, analyze results, and modify strategy as required. Some of those analysis models include looking at simple measures of numbers of posts, friends, etc., at links between friends and followers (social network analysis), and at analyzing the text of individual postings.

I’ll cover those more another day, but will leave you with one interesting site – These folks, at a bank in the UK, have spent time to scrape comments from blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other sites that refer to their brand. They then analyze each comment for its “sentiment” – did the user make positive, negative, or neutral comments? The results are displayed in a way that gives a visual of the “whole world” view of the company – and they publish it for all to see. That’s another feature of social media – it makes your company or brand much more visible, and potentially much more transparent.

How will you leverage social media to support your brand (or even your personal brand)?

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