How To Measure Social Media Engagement

Some things just don’t like to be measured. How can you quantify how cute your baby is, or scientifically determine how much you love Monday Night Football? 

At first glance, “engagement” seems like one of those unmeasurable things. It’s a fuzzy concept to start, with none of the hard-line numbers that accompany ad campaigns or a PR blitz. 

But in the same way you can chat with someone at a party and tell if he’s really listening (or scanning the room for someone more interesting), you can determine whether your audience is listening to you when you talk to them in social media.

Here are some methods to get started.

Dump meaningless metrics

Your first step? Take a deep, cleansing breath and then clear your head of the vanity numbers that don’t help you here. Growing your Twitter followers and Facebook fans is always nice, but follower and likes are only a gauge of who could be engaging with you, not who is.

Tailor measurements to your brand

Next, audit the social media channels in which you’re active and determine what makes sense to measure. Only you can decide what’s important here, but some common metrics might be:

• Number of brand mentions per reporting period

• Number of comments per blog post

• Number of responses per tweet or Facebook post

• Number of shares (and their many cousins, including retweets, reblogs, repins, etc.) per content item

• Favorites per content item

• Downloads per content item

• Reviews per product

• Number of leads nurtured/reporting period

• Number of questions answered or support provided per reporting period

Already tracking those? With a few simple equations (I know, I know) you can track more advanced metrics like:

• Percentage share of voice (brand mentions ÷ total industry mentions (your brand + competitor A + competitor B…)

• Participation rate per content item (interactions ÷ total views) 

Don’t forget to spend some time thinking on less obvious metrics important for your brand. Examples might include:

• Working on community building? Why not track the number of brand advocates you developed per reporting period?

• If you’re hearing the same questions over and over again, develop content geared toward answering those commonly asked questions. Track how many pieces of content you create in this vein per reporting period, then whether you hear that question less often afterward.

• Don’t waste valuable customer feedback. Keep a tally of the new product ideas/ product improvement ideas you receive per reporting period (and make sure they’re sent to the right party within your organization).

Find your baseline

Once you’ve chosen what to measure, see where you are right now in all those metrics. That’s your baseline. From here, determine how often you want to report on your metrics and decide on goals for your next reporting period.

Enlist help

Only after you’ve figured out what you want to measure is it time to talk tools. Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet, advanced Google Analytics goals or any number of third-party tools to help you measure and report, look for help to automate or simplify the measurement process.

Since you’ve personalized your metrics, no one tool is likely to give you everything you need, but they can help make the reporting process a little quicker. Some places to start:

• Get to know Facebook Insights, LinkedIn company page analytics and the in-application analytics of any other tool you frequent that provides data for admins.

• Try out third-party tools like Edgerank Checker, Crowdbooster and others that can help you benchmark your efforts and compare your stats to competitors and your industry as a whole.

• Max out Google Analytics to give you the most data about how your content is being shared. Create custom reports focusing on conversions from social media channels. Set up unique URLs to track each status update or wall post. Create events like social shares to keep track of campaigns. Not a pro at Google Analytics? Try to help get started.

Keep going

You’ve done the hard part – now keep it up. Along the way, you might discover new metrics to measure or find that you need to tweak some of the metrics you’ve set up. That’s a good thing! Your process should keep evolving as you learn from your metrics and improve your brand engagement.

How do you measure engagement for your brand? Let me know in the comments.