Follows is a sample section on Social Media Metrics from my book which will be available October 1st.

Social Media consultants are often very friendly, eager to please, people. You have to be to be popular with everyone. This type of individual tends to not be enthusiastic about hard metrics, instead they will often prefer to report soft metrics. Unlike all other statistics and metrics many social media consultants are calling these cold metrics and warm metrics. Cold metrics being the “unfeeling” raw numbers and warm metrics being the “tough to quantify” measure of good will.

As the manager of a campaign you will often have to translate between the qualitative and quantitative metrics provided by your consultants. It is also your responsibility to make sure that your marketing spend is in the demographics that make sense. Not all demographics are represented in all social mediums. Very few body building enthusiasts are on Twitter, and Oprah fans aren’t on MySpace.

Social media metrics should always include the following hard metrics:

· Fan/Follower Count

· Active Fan Percentage

· Friend of a Fan Growth

· Traffic from Social Media

· Product/Services Conversion from Social Media

· Percent of Network(s) Engaged

· Cost Per Fan

Social media metrics should always include the following soft metrics:

· Positive to Negative Feedback Ratio

· Support to Marketing Interaction Ratio

· Press/Blogger/Media Response

Be prepared to be told that your Social Media Consultant can’t, won’t, or doesn’t need to provide these metrics. There are a lot of Social Media “Experts” who feel that Social Media is about “building good karma” and that has “incalculable value”. These consultants will often talk in terms or ROI as Return on Influence rather than Return on Investment. Much like the section on avoiding SEO/SEM scams, if you hear anything that indicates that you can’t calculate hard statistics RUN!

Social Media is EXPENSIVE for the ROI in the short term. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t do it, just have realistic expectations. Building those expectations requires the metrics.

Fan/Follower Count is an easy metric to gather. This is simply the number of Fans, Followers, or Friends you have on each social network you have engaged in. Typically you want to break this down by network, but having an aggregate is also useful, and is easy to calculate.

Active Fan Percentage is sometimes difficult to gather, but it is the percentage of your fans/followers who logon to the service at least once a week. Where this metric is most useful is in preventing consultants from using nefarious practices to gain followers/fans.

Friend of a Fan growth is the number of users acquired through word of mouth rather than direct engagement. This is an important indicator, as the purpose of Social Media is to have word of mouth advertising spread your brand “virally”.

Traffic from Social Media is easy to gather from your web analytics. Checking how many people are landing at your website from FaceBook, Twitter, and via your URL shortening service allows you to track how many of the people you are engaging are actually following through to your site.

Product/Services Conversion from Social Media uses the Traffic from Social Media along with the conversion rate from links posted to your fans to track how much you are earning from the engagement of your followers.

Percent of Network Engaged is similar to Alexa’s Percent Reach. This is your fan/follower count divided by the total number of users of the service. As FaceBook has over 300 Million users this will be a very small number, but a very useful one. Your growth should match if not exceed the growth of the network. This will be easy getting started. Growing from 5 fans to 6 yeilds 20% growth in a week, but as you start to hit the middle of your growth you will plateau for a bit. If you have a well built network of followers when you hit critical mass your growth should nearly exactly match that of the network.

Cost Per Fan is another scary number, or possibly THE scary number. Building your first 1000 fans will cost a lot, and maintaining them will be expensive on a cost per user basis, but if you can get to the economy of scale the returns can be worth it.

The Soft Metrics require a lot of time to monitor, but as you are evaluating your success you should be mindful of them. The soft metrics are really a measure of how good your evangelists are. If they are combative with people who say bad things about your brand your positive to negative feedback ratio will tank.

Support to marketing engagement is easier to track if you are using a Customer Relationship Management Solution, but the very short version is, are you answering questions in response to products presales, post sales, or in response to product operation. This is my favorite of the soft metrics, because it really is about answering “what does your customer need” and “why did they use that medium to get it.” If you are getting technical support questions via FaceBook, you may need to ask why didn’t they call? Or use one of the official mechanisms for support? This type of engagement is hard to calculate the ROI on but can help your other customer engagement methodologies improve which can often increase your revenue and lower support costs.

Press/Blog/Media Response is not always relevant, but ideally your social media campaign is going to allow you to monitor bloggers, press, and other media personalities questions before they write articles or immediately following them, this gives you the best chance to add additional good press to articles and have a heads up on bad press.

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