With all the hype going on around social media marketing, you can imagine that keeping track of what’s happening on each social media profile a business has is of high interest. Brands want to know when there are peaks and dips in their blogs or web traffic and use this knowledge as potential catalysts for meeting theirs social media objectives.

Social media measurement refers to the tracking of various social media content such as blogs, wikis, micro-blogs, social networking sites, video/photo sharing websites, forums, message boards, and user-generated content in general, which is quite difficult to analyse as not everything can or should be measured.

Currently, there are several ideologies around social media quantification: Major players try to measure influence by taking into account the size of the voice and the depth of its reach, while others quantify the effectiveness in social media with their own suite of social media tools, measuring coefficients between activity (inputs) and results (outputs), instead. Both approaches have, without doubts, their strengths and weaknesses. While the flaw with measuring someone’s influence by the size of the voice is difficult - it is like comparing the Iron Lady Maggie Thatcher with Lady Gaga, who seems to be one of the most influential people on the internet right now - measuring social media by 'effectiveness' means that a local politician, from a small republic such as Singapore, could in theory be as 'effective' as The US President even though the reach is just a small percentage of his counterpart.

In general, I would say, it all depends on the applications used for social media quantification and of course the smart questions asked, which helped set the goal.

It is, for instance, possible to create network visualizations, measure the aggregated sentiments of online publics, and train machine learning algorithms to classify online contents in terms of their specific attributes. Actually, there are lots of things that can be accurately measured, which - when seen through a wide-angled lens - can really help you make sense of what social media can do for your business.

But let me come back again to Charlene Li and her co-author Josh Bernoff who wrote around five years ago the bestseller Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. They approached online consumer engagement measurement by evaluating different perspectives with respect to questions regarding awareness, consideration, conversion, advocacy, that give a lot of insights:


  • What percentage increase in new website visitors has been derived from the social web activity? (Referrals, Search, Direct, Email etc.)
  • Which tweets, posts, comments, were the most effective and most viral?
  • What was the increase in search results (number and volume) and improvement in search rankings based upon this activity?


  • What social web activity led to increased keyword activity within search resulting in a website visit?
  • What were those conversation topics and keywords?
  • Which social sites/content were the source of the related activity?
  • Has the social buzz (volume) and keyword trending increased around my brand, product or service?


  • Which social web channels provided the highest levels of conversion on site? (not just referrals, but the increase in conversions from search, direct, email etc.)
  • Specifically, which social web activity (post, comment, tweet, competition etc) triggered conversions? (And also those that didn’t do anything.)
  • Is the increase in followers across the various channels proportional to the increase in conversions?


  • Which social web activity led to the most inter-consumer activity?
  • What impact has the “share this” option had?
  • Which items, that had the share this facility, were the most and least effective?
  • Who were the most influential and authoritative people that helped increase awareness and conversion?
  • What do people really think about our brand, product or service? (not just a sentiment number, but an authoritative list of people and comments)

For sure, there could be many more questions added on, but it is a good start, considering that getting answers to these questions involves human correlation and analysis that cost time and money. But since we are living in an automated word, we should consider making use of Web analytics providers like Salesforce.com or Google Analytics. Their services can definitely support enormously in our search for answers as they measure all onsite behaviour, and could more easily develop (or acquire) technology or methodology that measures activity buzzing around outside of the website (i.e. the social web and search).

The Groundswell duo believes Google has the answer to all of these answers as the company is best placed to capture all data needed. Indeed, Google even just proved to keep up with changing demands and trends, if we take a look at their recently added Social Reports.

By Daniela La Marca