Developing a Social Media Analytics Framework
By Achaia Walton
955 million monthly active users on Facebook. More than 140 million active users on Twitter, producing 340 million tweets per day. Over 800 million unique visitors watching 4 billion hours of video each month on YouTube.
That’s a lot of activity to measure, even if your piece of the action is a fraction of all the social media activity. So how can you get out of the weeds and figure out which metrics to report?
Start with your organizational goals
The bottom line of your organizational goals as they relate to social media is that they should answer this fundamental question: “Why are you on social media?” Answers may be as simple as:
- Reach more online users to visit the website.
- Use social media as a way to get website updates.
- Promote high-value content on the website.
- Create online partnerships with others in social media.
Regardless of what those answers may be, they need to tie into the mission of your organization. If your organization is in the business of disseminating information, reaching more online users and promoting high-value content may be important goals for your social media efforts. If your organization wants to engage and foster a strong online relationship with your current visitors or specific partners, using social media to get updates or creating online partnerships may be great goals to kick off your retention and engagement initiatives.
Identify objectives for each goal
Breaking goals down into smaller objectives help make the analytics framework less overwhelming. While the first step is about thinking of the big picture, identifying objectives focuses on thinking about the different tactics to meet the goals. Let’s take the “Reach more online users” goal, for instance, and identify potential objectives for that.
- To identify topics that are of high interest to social media users and are related to the website.
- To post content during the most optimal days and times.
- To identify areas and conversations (such as hashtags) where we can join and engage people to visit the website.
Create realizations for each objective
From each objective, there should be a group of steps that social media users can take to complete said objective. These realizations are what you’re going to measure and tie into the objectives and goals for insights. Examples of realizations for “To identify topics that are of high interest to social media users and are related to the website” would be:
- Many unique online users are talking about a topic related to our website.
- These users are generating high volume of posts about this topic.
- Most users are talking about this topic positively.
Identify KPIs, targets and segments
Key performance indicators (KPI) measure the success or failure of each realization. While there are some that are not necessarily as blunt and can be measure in terms of success or failure, it is the measure of completion that counts.
For each KPI, a target must be determined. This is the threshold at which you can determine success or failure. Targets are typically harder to identify, because they are usually educated estimates. Sometimes targets can be pulled from benchmarks created by previous social media initiatives, but you also have to consider that initiatives may have varying goals or objectives.
Segments are also important to identify when creating KPIs. These are groups of interest for specific realizations. For instance, you may want to group the different online users discussing the topic by their social media reach, because there is a higher value to reaching (and engaging) people with more followers than people with less.
Here is an example of KPIs, targets, and segments for a realization identified above:
What happens next?
After collecting data and filling in the blanks for this specific realization, the next steps are tying it back to the objective and goal, and developing a social media strategy around the insight(s) derived from the metrics.
Using the examples above, let’s say that you’ve identified a rise in online buzz for swine flu as a result of an outbreak in the Midwest. Based on the data, you see that more than 100 unique users are talking about it, and over 20 unique users are linking to local information about swine flu. You’ve also noticed that despite the fact that 30% of the unique users talking about this are high-reach users, none of them are linking to your site, which has high-value content about swine flu. From this analysis and insight, a recommended next step would be to enter the conversation with relevant content (including a relevant link to your site).
What do you think about this framework? Are there missing components that we should consider?
|Achaia Walton is a web metrics analyst at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs.|
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