Metrics are an important part of any online branding and advertising strategy. Suppose a site gets an average of 1,400 views per week. What does that mean? For a small blog that updates once or twice per week, with an average ad revenue of, say, a half cent per view, this might seem all right. For a major news outlet like Fox or MSNBC, it would be disastrous. The raw numbers aren’t as important as the context the reviewer places them in; such is the nature of the metric.
A metric is a unit of information used to gauge or measure the statistics that are coming in. Views per week is a metric, as is growth in views from week to week. The number of subscribers to a site might be important to one user, but less important than reciprocal linking rates to another.
The choice of metric often is defined by the nature of the site being used, as noted above. Ad revenue sites often base their metrics on the number of clickthroughs on advertisements they host, while non-profit channels might prefer raw numbers of subscribers. Given the sheer number of metrics out there, it comes as no surprise that many tools for gathering and evaluating the raw data that feeds into such metrics have been developed.
For brands that intend to function on all levels of the social networking zeitgeist, Hootsuite is the go-to tool. It ties into nearly every element of the social networking arena, working with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, WordPress and more. Hootsuite presents itself as a dashboard from which a user can control all aspects of his multimedia networking “empire,” streamlining the process to a central point instead of many diverse elements needing tending.
In particular, the metric benefit of Hootsuite comes from its Monitor Mentions function. Specifically, this feature looks up the number of times a user or his account has been mentioned on a selected social media site. As a one-click solution that can be tailored to lists or to keywords, this is an incredibly powerful tool. Put in the required information, and a user has access to most, if not all, of the buzz that his site or account has begun generating over the last few days.
This also allows the user to judge the effect of a particular campaign. Follow the Hoot mentions after starting up a campaign, and you can probably figure out whether people are taking the effort well, poorly or even if they’re noticing it at all.
Another dashboard management system, Tweetdeck is focused on helping Twitterers with high-volume accounts manage the information stream that comes in through their feed.
Twitter is an odd entry into the social media world, one that has grown faster than any other. Originally intended to be a simple status update system, it has developed much further than this. Many brands use it as a means of constantly updating their followers with microblogging-style reports and advertisements, as well as to keep track of what those followers are talking about.
Tweetdeck’s primary means of organizing this is that it can quickly split replies, re-tweets and original posts into separate feeds to be sorted through. To be sure, being able to follow a re-tweet series stemming from an advertising or announcement tweet is a vital step in ascertaining just what people’s reaction to the originating tweet was. With large volumes of followers, this can involve an almost maniac amount of time at the screen – time that could be better spent elsewhere. Tweetdeck helps condense the time into more efficient units.
It also can drill down even more specifically. Perhaps a brand centered around a popular series of cookbooks wants to focus specifically on its wine-appreciating followers rather than the community as a whole. Tweetdeck can create a column of all the people who have been flagged as wine lovers, and exclude the rest of the community. In short, it allows for precision views in order to mine for information specific to the need at hand.
These are only two of the tools available to social media users. They offer specific and tangible benefits to their target audience, and being familiar with both is a good way to refine and focus any data that’s being gathered for metric uses. There are other tools out there, including Tweetdeck’s alternative, Twhirl. Other sites offer “social media tools” that are more specific to Facebook or WordPress. The specific tool isn’t as important as the method in which it’s being used.
Twitter feed mentions are important. Being able to measure and dissect the number of retweets or keyword comments relating to a brand’s new post, is a valuable tool in attempting to demonstrate the reputation a brand has built for itself through its overall efforts. However, sometimes this information can lead to pure number-chasing.
Above all else, keep the focus on the brand and what it has to offer, rather than abstracted numerical goals. These metrics should evaluate whether a brand is reaching its intended audience effectively — they must never become a goal in and of themselves. Make sure that the brand can stand on its own merits, and that the use of these tools is a means of pursuing just that goal.