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Evolving some thoughts on measuring social media

Bare with me, I’m going to do some thinking out loud here for this post. Measuring social media is a large topic, hot topic, and ever discussed topic around many social media water coolers. Over the last couple years the topic/meme has evolved in several directions both on the quantitative and qualitative side of the fence.

But because of my recent work in website design, working with design principles and IAs my thoughts around the topic have evolved into a couple of areas…which I’m still putting some thinking to…but here is what I’ve got so far. When it comes to social media measurement, its –

Activity vs. Media Value

…and it centers around how you approach your social media project. If its about an action, you measure the engagement/participation/activity you want someone to do. If its about selling it, you need a media value number. Now, both of these ideas can work together (and should) but the difference is in what you need as your end goal and why.


I’m calling it activity because you initial set out to design a social media project with people actively doing something (could also be called engagement/participation). But the entire project is built from the beginning to have a person actively do something with your content (information). So that is what you need to measure…and those metrics might need to be thought up to go with the project.

Media Value

These are more traditional online/offline metrics that everyone for the most parts understands. Impressions, CPM, time spent, etc. If you design your social media project to generate ‘X’ impressions that you can measure it against either an online media CPM or a PR dollar efficiency. But while this will help sell the project, might not sell the widgets for the brand.

For example – (i’m borrowing this from Bokardo, with his thoughts on activity-centered design…yes, this has been a decent influence)

If you design a social media project to have people ‘shop’ (activity) in your store, then you would measure shopping. If you design a social media project to have people ‘visit’ your store, then use the metrics, because you just need them to stop by.

Ok, so maybe this is some obvious already discussed social media measurement thinking. But I just needed to get it out, give it a spin. I’m really in the camp of knowing what activity to drive and measure off of that.

Now, to turn this post is a little different direction – I was reading Beingpeterkim and borrowed his post on a framework for measuring social media and added/edited in a couple of other points. I think this is a good cheat sheet to get at social media measurement from a standardized POV. His bullet points with my additions (genius steals and I hope he considers this flattery)

Attention:  The amount of traffic to your content for a given period of time.  Similar to the standard web metrics of site visits and page/video views.

Engagement:  The extent to which users participate with your content in a channel.  Think blog comments, Facebook wall posts, YouTube ratings, widget interactions, passing content on.

Authority:  Ala Technorati, the inbound links to your content – like trackbacks and inbound links to a blog post or sites linking to a YouTube video.

Influence:  The size of the user base subscribed to your content.  For blogs, feed or email subscribers; followers on Twitter or Friendfeed; or fans of your Facebook page.

Sentiment: The impression/reaction the audience has of the brand/product after the interacting with your content. Good/bad sentiment.

Media Value: Total number of mentions/impressions of brand/campaign across all media outlets/channels (social media impressions vs. CPM to generate same impressions)