A New Measurement of Success in Social Media?

In the day-to-day business setting, metrics are often focused on unique visitors, traffic patterns and impact on sales revenue but a new study by APCO and the Huffington Post, suggests the true measurements are 6 key factors in determining a companies social media success,

  • Dialogue 
  • Customer Service
  • Quality of Content
  • Platform Diversity
  • Engagement & Interaction
  • Optimization

Of the 4,000 Social Informants surveyed, they ranked which indicators they look to when measuring a company for their effectiveness in social media.  

Evan Kraus, SVP at APCO believes

that influence is a far more important gauge than raw numbers. Those Internet users with the most influence among their peers don't just have followers — they have engaged followers. And by promoting this engagement, these influencers — a group we call Social Informants — have the ability to build buzz behind new products and spark debate with new ideas, creating a ripple-effect by sharing information.

Social Informants

These Social Informants surveyed,

  • Spend nearly 200% more time online than average internet users
  • 56% more likely to digest their news online
  • Have more than 100 people in their social networks

It's clear that these Social Informants are savvy in social media but an added benefit is they're approaching this from a consumer perspective, which is what companies need to be doing more of.

Companies are nearly required to have a social media presence, to meet the needs of their consumers.  Many companies are continuing to look to the metrics they prioritize, which is often "the bottom line" however, consumers are prioritizing a different set of metrics and sometimes businesses need to be listening to consumer needs over their own.

So Which Companies "Get It?"

Applying the 6 key indicators for social media effectiveness, APCO tested the Social EQ against Fortune's Top 40 Most Admired Companies.    

They re-ranked the companies and the list changed pretty significantly, with Google and Apple still holding down the top 2 spots. Graph below shows results.

Working within this list of Most Admired, still curious how Google and Apple's scored the top two spots.  Both companies have incredible visibility however, they lack the frequency of engagement seen in companies like Coca-Cola or Southwest Airlines.  Agree or disagree? 

Surprising Results

Kraus pointed to some unexpected results from this survey, 

What was most interesting to us was how significantly dialogue and customer service impacted social media success…


Users often take their questions, feedback or praise to Twitter.  How much validation do you feel when your comments are responded to?  Exactly. 


We were surprised to discover that companies that are heavily investing in emerging social media platforms aren't necessarily rewarded for it in terms of Social EQ. Yes, taking risks and demonstrating innovation gets you some credit among Social Informants, but our respondents were much more impressed by companies that ensure their various social media efforts are well integrated with each other and with the company's overall Web presence.

Popularity and creativity count for something but what matters more is the conversation that is occurring within your community about your brand.   

See more of the Social EQ findings done by APCO and the Huffington Post, here.


How does your brand rate using the 6 key indicators above?