A few days ago, I moderated two panels at Grantmakers in the Arts pre-conference on arts and technology. The panel featured some previews from a recent research study “How Strong Is Your Social Net?” given by Rory MacPherson, principal, Trudel | MacPherson and Jai Sen,digital media strategist, Sen Associates. The panel also featured, Mary Beth Smith, from the SF Ballet, who share her organization’s experience integrating social media into marketing strategies since 2007. The panel was on social media, adoption, and measurement. It was clear from the presentations that measurement is a critical piece of the puzzle.
Measurement is a learning process that uses research and data to help make improvements, and is not just counting things up – “We have 5,000 fans!” The discipline of measurement help you analyze what lies beneath those numbers, and uses that insight to improve your practices. You set objectives, create and implement strategy, identify key metrics, make changes based on your research, then gather new data, then make more changes, then gather more data, and on and on. Measurement of your processes and results—where you spend your time and money and what you get out of it—helps you make better decisions. It helps you set priorities, allocate resources, and make choices.
If we stay true to these five simple measurement steps as articulated by colleague KD Paine, then we’re on a good, steady course of continuous improvement. Yet, there are those constant nagging questions. What social media analytics should we pay attention to? And the nuts and bolts questions like, “Given all the Facebook changes, what do I need to understand about the new Facebook metrics and the Insights analytics program?”
If anything, participating in social networks with colleagues and peers can be help with keeping informed of our professional field if we’re practicing information curation – seeking information, making sense of it, and sharing it with our networks. John Haydon recently pointed to his new screencast about Insights and Ted Fickes offered a shoutout on Twitter to Avinash Kaushik most recent blog post.
The always thoughtful and inspiring, Avinash Kaushik, suggests that there four social media metrics that we should focus on measuring across channels. Of course, you need to start with
Social media is evolving at an incredible pace. Most of us have no idea how to participate optimally in this unique channel – we are doing TV on Twitter (breaks my heart). The impact on the data side of the ecosystem is that massive amounts of data is being generated and much of what goes for measurement in “social media tools” is profoundly sub optimal (I’m being polite). We have IT-minded people engaging in massive data puking (one report with 30 metrics anyone?) and Marketing-minded people who are using lousy measures of success (“I got 158,632 Fans! Hurray!”).
I want to propose a framework you can use to measure success using metrics that matter for one simple reason: They actually measure if you are participating in the channel in an optimal fashion.
He goes on to describe four social media metrics that have passed his “so what” test, although it isn’t easy to gather data on all of them from existing tools.
(1) Conversation Rate: Conversation Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post. He suggests that a high conversation rate requires a deeper understanding of who your audience is, what your brand attributes are, what you are good at, what value you can add to your followers and the ecosystem you participate in. To get a high conversation rate, you need a robust content and engagement strategy that supports your objectives.
(2) Amplification Rate: This is rate at which your followers take your content and share it through their network. It is measured in different ways on different channels. On Twitter, it is retweets. On Facebook, it is shares. Avinash suggests that you measure what pieces of content (type) cause amplification (allow your social contributions to spread to your 2nd, or even 3rd, level network). He also suggests looking at topics, times, and geo location. He suggests, “Then do more of the type that increase amplification.” What is interesting to me is that to get a good amplification rate, you need to develop good relationships and listening skills – otherwise you’re just creating a lot of noise.
(3) Applause Rate: I think arts organizations might like this metric! It is very simple, it is the clicking the “like” button or 1+ button or favorite button on Twitter. Avinash pionts out, “You get a much deeper understanding of what your audience likes so much that it will +1 your content (or contribution) and allow for that to be then shown to others in their social graph.” What’s critical here is a robust content strategy that includes both content creation and curation.
(4) Economic Value: Avinash defines this as: Economic Value = Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings. He goes to say that, “Social media participation, done right, adds value to the company’s bottom-line. Some of it can’t be computed. That is okay. But some of it can be and it is your job, nay duty (!), to quantify that.” With nonprofits, economic value also goes along with “social impact” which based on behavior change.
Avinash putting these into measurement practice right is a challenge it is hard to pull them all together in one place. That means being making friends with EXCEL. His greatest hope is will start to pull together metrics social media measurement mavens need into one place (from all social channels).
He also points to a Twitter analytics tool called “Crowdbooster”
Facebook Insights: Overview of Changes
As we know, Facebook rolled out changes to brand pages which will no doubt influence some tactical decisions. They have also made changes to the analytics program Insights and introduced new metrics. If you are the administrator of your page, you switch to the new Insights program by clicking the link in the welcome message. Before you do, however, you might want to download and read a copy of Facebook’s product guide and watch John Haydon’s screencast above that is a video cheat sheet of all the new data that Facebook can serve up.
There’s a lot of “nice to have” data, but remember measurement is not counting and you want to be sure to pick out and track the data that will be most useful. If not, you run the risk of meaningless data. You have to start with your objectives and you may not be able to track them with data solely from Insights. As Avinash says, an EXCEL spreadsheet is going to be your best friend. Okay, it is time to redesign those spreadsheets folks!! (and hopefully the export feature on Insights won’t be buggy(
When you log into your dashboard, you see an overview of the page metrics as well as the most recent post metrics. The four metrics at the top of your Insights tab allow you to quickly understand the size and engagement of your Facebook audience. According to the FB Insights product guide, “Posting regularly with engaging content gets more people to talk about your organization with their friends. As a result, you end up reaching more people overall.” So, fall in the trap of only looking at the number of fans.
Fans: The number of unique people who like your Page.
Friends of Fans: The number of unique people who are friends with your fans, including your current fans.
People Talking About This: The number of unique people who have created a story about your Page in the last seven days.
Total Reach: The number of unique people who have seen any content associated with your Page (including any Ads or Sponsored Stories pointing to your Page) in the last seven days.
Next, I’d go into the post specific metrics and use those to learn about what content is resonating with your audience. Using Avinash’s frawework above, I might initially capture these metrics:
People Talking About This (The raw number of people who have created a story from your Post )
Virality – (The percentage of people talking about this post divided by reach – this looks similar to the “feedback percentage” in the old insights and if it is the average feedback percentage for nonprofits was approximately between 1-4%).
Reach – The number of people who saw that update, or the number of times that update was displayed.
Engaged Users – The number of people who have clicked anywhere on your Post.
As Avinash suggests, it is important to look at the date/time and type of content as well, although I would probably add these data points at later stage.
Finally, the metric for “Economic Value” or “Social Impact” won’t be found in Facebook Insights. You’ll need to be tracking this with google analytics or surveys the specific metrics that help you figure out if you’ve reached your objectives. If you are looking at cost-savings, that needs to be tracked with some form of a time dairy.
Given all these changes with Facebook insights, what are you going to track and more importantly how will use it to guide decisions? Have you changed your spreadsheet? What does it look like?