Measuring What Matters in Social Media

Published on Nov 7th, 2013



We are wired to love BIG and to believe that bigger is better.

But in the case of measuring social media, our fixation with BIG can sometimes drive us to misleading results. Just focusing on the number of fans or followers does not indicate the true size and value of a brand’s social community.

There are many reasons for embarking on a social strategy: to create buzz and brand awareness, to generate leads, to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, and to drive website traffic.

Whatever your goals ultimately are, there are three critical building blocks that have little to do with BIG. Rather than focusing on potential fans, savvy social brands hone in on quality activity and interactions based on audience-centric metrics.

Building Block 1 Growth and Performance

Growth paired with performance metrics allow you to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of your social media efforts over time by tracking audience size and engagement.

Take for example some of the world’s most iconic brands- Disney, McDonalds, MTV, Starbucks, Walmart and BMW. Collectively, they have over 200 million fans.



But upon further study and the use of an audience-centric metric like Unique Engaged Users (those who share, retweet, etc.), performance is measured not by BIG numbers, but by actual engagement.



Building Block 2 Content Strategy

Content strategy metrics shine a light on the tactics that produce the most compelling content, providing ways to benchmark your social results and gain awareness of marketplace best practices.

On a day-to-day basis, content strategy metrics help you determine what you should continue (and what you should stop) for the future success of your social campaigns. And, they enable you to monitor what content is being produced by your competitors.

Content strategy metrics like content type, time of posting and keywords can help you answer questions like:


  • Is our content as “shareable” as our competitors?

  • Which content types are driving the most engagement for our brand?

  • Are there specific day/time combinations in which our social audience is most likely to engage?

  • Are we posting too frequently/not frequently enough based on our audience engagement?


To illustrate, the chart below suggests that an effective strategy for Starbucks would be to post offers around noon and 2PM on Fridays for optimal engagement.



Building Block 3 Audience Quality

Audience quality gauges the loyalty of your active social audience, identifies influencers and advocates, and measures their engagement with your content over time relative to your competitors.

Metrics to monitor when measuring audience quality include:

  • % Returning Users

  • Frequency of Actions

  • % Shares or Retweets

  • Brand Cross Engagement


Brand cross engagement provides deep insight into the behaviors of your engaged audience. Think of this as an affinity map and a profiling tool of sorts.  This metric illustrates how likely your engaged audience is to interact with categories of content, your competitors, and also leads to the discovery of additional unexpected interests.

The lists below provide a snapshot of the top 10 social properties that Disney fans also interact with. 60% of the brands are part of the Disney family.

Disney- Cross Brand Engagement

  • Disneyland

  • Walt Disney World

  • Disney Pixar

  • Nickelodeon

  • Disney Channel

  • ABC Family

  • Marvel

  • Entertainment Weekly

  • Discovery


Digging further into cross engagement metrics, you also can start to develop a sense of an engaged Disney fans’ consumer interests.

Engaged Disney Users- Consumer Interests

  • Victoria’s Secret

  • Kohl’s

  • Pizza Hut

  • Target

  • Bath & Body Works

  • Domino’s Pizza

  • Hard Rock Cafe

  • McDonald’s

  • Forever21

  • Starbucks


Upon embracing these metrics, the sky’s the limit in the ways that you can experiment, define and refine the strategy behind your social media communications. The right social strategy can turn fans into loyal advocates, increase customer interactions and significantly improve marketing performance.

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