Measuring Social Media

Today the Interactive Advertising Bureau released its 2009 Social Media Metrics Definition Guide and it has some interesting definitions on how people and companies can gauge their programs/campaigns effectiveness. It should be noted that the IAB is looking at this from the perspective of advertising. According to them, the reason for this new guide is “with the rapid growth seen in the Social Media space in recent years, many publishers and vendors are offering supplemental performance metrics to their clients as additional ways of gauging ad effectiveness.” However, the IAB has a great definition of value to which I wholly believe. They state that in order to have value, companies need to move beyond simply trying to get their brand out there and increasing the number of times people notice it. Value includes the results of shareability amongst users, participation, and the “propegation of advertising”.

So just what does this Social Media Metrics Definition Guide analyze in social media?

  • Social Media Sites
  • Blogs
  • Widgets and applications

From a metrics standpoint, it’s pretty obvious that everyone would think about the basic reporting concepts, like page views, unique visits, time spent, interaction rate, return visits, cost per visitor, number of installs (particularly for widgets), respective call-to-action reporting, etc., but the Social Media Metrics Definition Guide delves a little bit further to offer some more metrics to consider.

With respect to blogs, the IAB states that there are two categories of metrics that you need to consider when gauging success: conversation size, site relevance, author credibility, and content freshness/relevance. With respect to conversation size, it’s all about how detailed and in-depth of a discussion is taking place that will offer a glimpse into how powerful a blog is and to measure engagement. When talking about site relevance…well…it’s pretty clear. Marketers need to know whether a blog and its topics are relevant to your product and brand. If it is, then you can engage in conversation (not pitching). The more relevant, the more successful your metrics will be. As for the other two measurement categories, those are pretty self-explanatory. If the blog author has success in the industry and is proven to be an influencer or thought-leader in that particular topic, then you know your information/advertisement will hold water. Content freshness/relevance is similar to site relevancy. Up-to-date information and website gives credibility. Constantly updated beats those “once-a-year update” blogs any day of the week.

As for widgets and social applications, the metrics aren’t that difficult to figure out. To see how successful a widget is (either for advertising or marketing purposes), look at the number of installs it has had since launch, growth, active users, unique user reach, active users per widget in the wild, longevity, audience profile, etc. All of these are probably provided by a distribution source like Clearspring or a main site like Facebook. You might also be able to install some sort of tracking code to monitor usage but will need to consult with developers first.

Once you’ve taken a look at these reporting metrics, that will give you a better understanding of who is using the widgets and how you can take advantage to market to them and help increase participation in your brand.

You can read more about these metric definitions on the Social Media Metrics Definition Guide published by the IAB here.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.