March Metrics and Measuring Social Media

What metrics matter for social media and networking?

Of course the answer should be it depends.

For example, would that be number of followers or how many posts, tweets or videos you post?

How about the number of page hits, pages read or unique visitors to a site, perhaps time on site?

Or, how about the number of times a visitor returns to a site or shares the link or information with others?

What about click through rates, page impressions, revenue per page and related metrics?

Maybe the metric is your blog ranking or number of points on your favorite community site such as Storage Monkeys or Wikibon among others?

Another metrics could be number of comments received particularly if your venue is more interactive for debate or discussion purposes compared to a site with many viewers who prefer to read (lurk). Almost forgot number of LinkedIn contacts or face book friends along with you tube and other videos or pod casts as well as who is on your blog roll.

Lets not forget how many are following or those being followed along with RSS subscribers as metrics.

To say that there are many different metrics along with reasons or interests around them would be an understatement to say the least.

Why do metrics matter in social networking?

One reason metrics are used (even by those who do not admit it) is to compare status amongst peers or others in your sphere of influence or in adjacent areas.

Who Are You and Your Influences
Some spheres of influence and influences

In additional metrics also matter for those looking to land or obtain advertising sponsors for their sites or perhaps to help gain exposure if looking for a new job or career move. Metrics also matter to gauge the effectiveness or return on investment with social media that could range from how many followers to how far your brands reach extends into other realms and venues.

In the case of twitter, for some the key metric is number of followers (e.g. popularity) or those being followed with other metrics being number of posts or tweets along with re tweets and list inclusions.For blogs and web sites, incoming links along with site activity among other metrics factor into various ranking sites. Web site activity can be measured in several ways including total hits or visits, pages read and unique visitors among others.

Having been involved with social media from a blogging along with twitter perspective for a couple of years not to mention being a former server and storage capacity planner I find metrics to be interesting. In addition to the metrics themselves, what is also interesting is how they are used differently for various purposes including gauging cause and effect or return on social networking investment.

Regardless of your motives or objectives with metrics, here is a quick synopsis of some tools and sites that I have come across that you may already be using, or if not, that you might be interested in.

What are some metrics?

If you are interested in your twitter effectiveness, see your report card at tweet grade. Another twitter site that provides a twitter grade based on numerous factors is Twitter Grader while Klout.com characterizes your activity on four different planes similar to a Gartner Magic quadrant. Over at the customer collective they have an example of a more thorough gauge of effectiveness looking at several different metrics some of which are covered here.

Sample metricsSample Metrics

Customer Collective Metrics and Rankings

Similar to Technorati, Tekrati, or other directory and index sites, Wefollow is a popular venue for tracking twitter tweeps based on various has tags for example IT or storage among many others. Tweet level provides a composite ranking determined by influence, popularity, engagement and trust. Talkreview.com provides various metrics of blog and websites including unique visitor traffic estimates while Compete.com shows estimated site visitor traffic with option to compare to others. Interested to see how your website or blog is performing in terms of effectiveness and reach in addition to Compete.com, then check out talkreviews.com or Blog grader that looks at and reports on various blog metrics and information.

The sites and tools mentioned are far from an exhaustive listing of sites or metrics for various purposes, rather a sampling of what is available to meet different needs. For example there are Alexa, Goggle and Yahoo rankings among many others.

Wefollow as an example or discussion topic

One of the things that I find interesting is the diversity in the metrics and rankings for example if you were to say look at wefollow for a particularly category in the top 10 or 20, then use one or more of the other tools to see how the various rankings change.

A month or so ago I was curious to see if some of the sites could be gamed beyond running up the number of posts, tweets, followers or followings along with re tweets of which some sites appear to be influenced by. As part of determining what metrics matter and which to ignore or keep in the back pocket for when needed, I looked at and experiment with wefollow.

For those who might have been aware of what I was doing, I went from barely being visible for example in the storage category to jumping into the top 5. Then with some changes, was able to disappear from the top 5 and show up elsewhere and then when all was said and done, return to top rankings.

Does this mean I put a lot of stock or value in wefollow or simply use it as a gauge and metric along with all of the others? The answer is that it is just that, another metric and tool that can be used for gauging effectiveness and reach, or if you prefer, status or what ever your preference and objective are.

How did I change my rankings on wefollow? Simple, experimented with using various tags in different combinations, sometimes only one, sometimes many however keeping them relevant and then waiting several days. Im sure if you are inclined and have plenty of time on your hands, someone can figure out or find out how the actual algorithms work, however for me right now, I have other projects to pursue.

What is the best metric?

That is going to depends on your objectives or what you are trying to accomplish.

As with other measurements and metrics, those for social media provide different points of reference from how many followers to amount of influence.

Depending on your objective, effectiveness may be gauged by number of followers or those being followed, number of posts or the number of times being quoted or referenced by others including in lists.

In some cases rankings that compare with others are based on those sites knowing about you which may mean having to register so that you can be found.

Bottom line, metrics matter however what they mean and their importance will vary depending on objectives, preferences or for accomplishing different things.

One of the interesting things about social networking and media sites is that if you do not like a particularly ranking, list, grade or status then either work to change the influence of those scores, or, come up with your own.

What is your take on metrics that matter, which is of course unless they do not matter to you?

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz – Author The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

About Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO, an IT industry advisory and consultancy firm. Mr Schulz has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, server/storage architect and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO. In addition to his analyst research and advisory consulting duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can be found on twitter @storageio.