Social Media Analytics: 6 Steps to Measuring What You Care About

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

The inspiration for the title of this post came from a talk that my friend Kami Huyse, COO of Zoetica, gave to the PRSA – Digital Impact conference NYC in May 2010. While an amusement park like Sea World could measure success by coaster rides, you may have something different in mind for your business and the metrics of success you have.  I was part of a panel measuring results: Guide to Google Analytics, Affiliate Metrics and more at the recent Affcon 2010 Summit with Wade Sisson and Brad Geddes. My discussion was on social media analytics, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts.

Jeremiah Owyang defined social analytics as “The practice of being able to understand customers and predict them using data from the social Web.” Shel Israel wrote in a post on Global Neighborhoods, “There is great danger in measuring the wrong things.”

Today’s weblogs and website technology gives us an enormous amount of data, and as Jim Sterne Analytics Guru says in his book “Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment”  – “Don’t be data rich, insight poor.” His book is a great read on social analytics.

Social Media

My example of asking the right questions was a cab ride from the Ft. Lauderdale airport to the Fairmont where AffCon was held. We can get all the data we want on the speed at which the cab traveled, how nay gallons of fuel were used, how many left turns were made and so on. If we took all this data and asked a analyst to give us a measurement, but did not provide any context on business goals and value, we would probably get a summary such as, “The cab’s average speed was 57mph” when what you really wanted to know was either how long it took to get from the airport to the hotel or how much the cab ride cost–depending on whether your goal was measuring travel time or expenses.

1. Identify Goals

When you are evangelizing social media to your company it is definitely useful to show alignment with your company’s overall goals. What are your objectives in social media ?

  • Make friends?
  • Influence people?
  • Increase sales/revenue?
  • Change public opinion of a product/company?
  • Cut customer service cost?
  • Conduct research at a lower cost?
  • Get better search results, i.e rank for targeted keyword terms?

Read Amber Naslund’s article, “How to Create Measurable Objectives,” for ideas on other things you may want to measure.

2. Agree on Social Analytics Measurement KPIs

Once you have your goals set, your team can agree on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) These could be :

  • Buzz and engagement
    • Conversation about your brand and products
  • Audience Building
    • People reading your content, following you, Liking you or bookmarking you
  • Advocates and Ambassadors
    • Retweets, reviews, recommendations, testimonials
  • Customer Satisfaction
    • Engagements and results, time to resolve
  • Feedback
    • Product improvements, new ideas

If you are a brand with a lot of raving fans you may even decide to track the number of folks who have tattooed your brand on themselves!

3. Identify Tools to Use for Measurement

4. Track Results

Where did the sale/lead come from?

  • Tweet
  • Facebook status
  • Blog post directly
  • Blog post shared or bookmarked
  • Blog post by your customer evangelists/fans
  • Leads generated through offline events
  • Referral traffic from your blog to website

5. Report

When you are going into present your results , remember everyone in the room will be connecting the dots to figure out out this will help them in their business. If you are a small business owner, you know very well how this will connect to your goal of increased customer engagement and service.

One of the small businesses I speak to regularly is Dr. Alan Glazier, CEO of Shady Grove Eye and Vision, and his measurement is the climb in patient retention since he started using more social media tools and reduced some of his traditional marketing expenses.

Social Media Analytics

Chef Vinod of Indique Heights, a favorite restaurant of mine, says his blog, K.N. Vinod, has brought in comments from customers and more restaurant reviews. Another restaurateur, Kumar Iyer of Rangoli Restaurant in South Riding, Virginia, has used social media to organize events, and finds event participation is a great measurement.

Katie Paine has a convenient social media measurement checklist and PR Measurement Blog for you to use.  There are also books that I have read where examples of success are plenty – Shel Israel’s Naked Conversation and Twitterville.

Charlene Li has some examples of benefits of dialog in her book Open Leadership which could be used in your business as well.

6. Change

Remember your goals and measurement may change.  Don’t be afraid to adjust tools and methods as needed. As the Turkish proverb says, “No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.”


The following resources can help you learn more about measuring your social media results:

How are you planning your social analytics strategy?


Shashi Bellamkonda Shashi Bellamkonda is CMO of Surefire Social, AKA "Social Media Swami" at SurefireSocial. Visit Shashi Bellamkonda's blog. He is also an adjunct faculty at Georgetown University. Shashi is a regular contributor to the Washington Business Journal, DC Examiner and other tech blogs like Smallbiztechnology and Techcocktail. Shashi has been in the list of Top 100 Small Business Influencer Champions list for 2011 and 2012.

15 Reactions
  1. Shashi,

    In a word;



    The Franchise King

  2. Great post Shashi. I clipped the tool list to my Amplog so I will always have access to it. Great stuff.

  3. All great advice Shashi and thanks for including Sysomos!

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  4. I love reading your posts Shashi. I have few (like this one now) printed and posted on my notice board in the office; it’s more on-my-face to refer to.

  5. Thanks for the thumbs up on my book Shashi – hope to see you at the next eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit!

  6. Joe ,

    Thanks for amplifying this post for future reference.


    Thanks for stopping by. We should have a talk about Sysomos sometime soon.


    Will look forward to connecting with you and learning more. I am so glad when I hear folks praise your Rangoli restaurant VA a lot.


  7. Thanks for this one! Really good tips! Will definitely refer back to this!

  8. Hi Shashi,

    Thanks a lot for such a detailed article on how to go about forming a strategy for measuring social media. The list of tools to use for measurement that you’ve mentioned will definitely help!

    Riya Sam
    Training for

  9. Thanks for your great post Shashi! The tools you have mentioned are new and this would greatly help the small business owners to improve their business!

  10. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for commenting here. I use your book Social Media Analytics a lot and appreciate the thought and effort you put in.

    Riya and Sumitha,

    Thanks for commenting .

    best regards,


    Gall being an open source (Based in the GPL License) social networks analytics allows having detailed information on Facebook and Twitter in real time.

  12. Shashi,

    very nice post. But under tools, you could probably include Klout.

  1. Pingback:

    Tweets that mention Social Media Analytics: 6 Steps to Measuring What You Care About --

  2. Pingback:

  3. Pingback: Social Media Initiatives: Marketing Fundamentals are the Same, Vehicles are Different « Big Data Big Analytics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *