How To Measure Social Media Efforts


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Acting as the Distilled Community and Content Assistant is as new to me as it is to the company. There’s certainly a lot of emphasis in marketing placed on generating a strong community and raising web visibility. You can find a whole host of posts relating to such matter - MackWeb Solutions talk you through a manageable content and social media marketing process on their recent SEOMoz piece with aplomb but what of those with new domains, starting out and struggling with the bewildering task of manning these social channels?

As a preface to this piece, yes, the hardened social media expert might anticipate what I’m about to write here but for those who are grappling with their new site or are merely struggling to know how to prove the value of such outlets, then this is how we do it here at Distilled. Fundamentally, this post serves to deliver a few tool ideas and some handy pointers into the baffling world of managing social communities, what to track and what mediums to put your interactive efforts to.

Metrics Matter

Now, we’re not talking strategy here, it’s metrics that matter. You want to be able to measure your efforts alongside the value of what this work brings to your business. Jen Lopez, the community manager at SEOMoz, tackles this subject extensively in her post and how they manage their social outposts. Initially, it’s good to focus on one community. Presuming you’ve set up the standard channels - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked In, YouTube [for those that use video] it may seem a little daunting to successfully speak to and engage with all of these various online communities so why not start with one?

Identify the best social media channels to suit you. Work to prove the value of one of those channel and then scale up. Of course, this is not to say you should neglect other communities but focus some initial resources towards getting one of your channels working and then look to the others. Building a relationship with your community takes time and there’s no quick fix approach to an effective social media strategy. Dedicate time daily to check in on inboxes, mentions and comments in order to keep up with all of your various sources.



 Stage One

With your social presence up and running, we can now work to establish goals for each of these various platforms - but we’re not looking for arbitrary ones here. It’s important to ensure your communities are actually adding value to your business. Therefore, in terms of social, you need to focus on engagement, not just volume. A community can be defined as ‘a group sharing common interests’ and if you’re sharing those interests, you should be talking about them too. You want high value fans that speak and engage, not just numbers tucked under your followers belt. At a top level, through the free tool Metricly we’re tracking followers, retweets and mentions. For greater insight, the paid tool from SEOMoz provides great social data (amongst many other things) which works on Twitter and Facebook currently and helps match your social efforts and their related successes.

Martin Goulding  

Stage Two

With some quantitative data on what your social efforts are producing in terms of numbers, now you can tie this to your business directly and gauge the effect this social engagement has on your site. How valuable are these actions to you? Yes, it’s important to invest in building community but does this make a difference to your business goals?

At Distilled, this month we’re looking to measure the current status quo before setting our goals (after all each community is different). We aim to try a number of different social initiatives, measure their impact against our previous performance and then set goals off the back of these results.

Digital Trends

Apply a method. Tag your tools.

Every link that we put out on our social channels, we’re tagging with the ‘social’ tag through Google’s URL builder. Then, when it comes to tracking your online efforts and the effect this is having on bringing people to your site, you can easily gauge this through Google Analytics. Through GA, you can now clearly see how many people are following the links through your tweets and posts to access your site and, in turn, how your social interactions are increasing CRO to the company which makes everyone happy, right?

Here at Distilled, we’ve been tracking our weekly metrics through social tags and what traffic is coming through to the site thanks to this engagement. In fact, we’ve specialised our reports by creating the Distilled Marketing Report within GA’s custom reporting tab. This way, particularly if you’re tagging is working effectively, you can identify the real monetary value for all the efforts made towards your social communities and establish which sources are working better than others to both drive people towards your site, and then how they then convert when on the site.

In a sense, you can track social traffic vs other traffic. Want to prove the importance of social media to your CMO? Identify the difference that a community makes here.



This screenshot gives you an idea of what a company’s GA tab might look like. By setting up an advanced segment within the Custom Reporting tab, you can track specifics, in this case social sources. We manage our marketing metrics on a week to week basis; social vs other traffic. Custom reporting allows you to build a picture of social engagement and its worth to your site.

Pro tip - Annotate GA, entering details on new promotions or initiatives, these can then help explain big fluctuations in your performance when it comes to analysing what is working.

Staying Agile

Ultimately though, we’re talking qualitative as well as quantitative and want to measure what people are saying and sentiment as well, not just traffic numbers and value. It’s not simply goal conversions, you’ll also want to ensure your community feels invested in your product and company development. Tools such as SEOMoz, Social Mention and Social Sprout (n.b. this author has not used Social Sprout so can’t vouch for it’s effectiveness) provide the platforms to track comments and conversations with your social communities and help with the qualitative measurement you should be performing.

We all need to become more agile with our marketing and put your customer at the heart of everything you do. By building a rapport with your audience, they are more likely to want to invest in your company and where better to talk directly to your community than via social?



Managing an ever growing [and chattering] social community is no easy task but hopefully, some of these tools and insights into the way we do it will help you in your daily interactive efforts. By tracking these metrics and using these tools, we can see what works for us and what doesn’t and in turn, lead us to a better strategy in order to engage with our communities and thought leaders. Have you established your companies metrics? What do you think is important to ensure a manageable content and social media marketing strategy and how can you improve?

Send us your thoughts...or tweet them, I’ll be there.

Cheri Percy

Cheri Percy

Cheri joined Distilled as a community intern and now heads up the Marketing department in the London office. She has co-ordinated and project managed some of Distilled's biggest content pieces to date and has doubled its social media growth.  When...   read more

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  1. Hey, I just wanted to say I really appreciate this post. I've been wondering for a long time just how social media affects websites in general, but I never realized that people use tools for analyzing their social efforts almost as much as SEO tools.

    Its been especially hard trying to start my most recent site, so I might try some of these tips. Thanks!

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    • Thanks Brandon, I'm really glad the post was useful to you -I've been working hard on putting out something like this since I started and really pleased with the final piece. Glad others can gain insight from it too! Would love to know any of your feedback during your social efforts and if you find tools that work equally as well.

  2. Thank you for these tips. It is really difficult for an upstart like me not to feel completely overwhelmed.

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  3. Just wanted to jump in and say that I really love this post and what you guys are doing over there. I love seeing "Community" being more of a focus and I can't wait to hear even more about the results of your efforts. Great work!

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    • Thanks for this, Jen - a little birdie tweeted to say this comment was lost in moderation! We love the engagement and interaction you guys at SEOMoz have with your community so it's super encouraging to hear your lovely comments.

  4. Nick Bordeau

    Great Post Cheri!

    This is a great way to take your overall social media goals and break them down into smaller timeframes (i.e. weekly, monthly) to make sure moral stays high over the long run of creating a reputable social presence.

    I especially appreciate the Google Analytics ideas you have for tracking changes! All to often webmasters make the changes, see the spike in traffic slowly decline and then have no clue what is going on. Down the road I am certainly going to setup a custom reporting tab to track just social media like you have here.

    Thanks again,
    Nick B.

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  5. Thanks so much for your positive feedback, Nick; I highly recommend the customer reporting tab on GA - it makes checking metrics on a Monday morning a lot easier for me anyway!


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  6. Cheri,

    You wrote "Every link that we put out on our social channels, we’re tagging with the ‘social’ tag through Google’s URL builder."

    Do you have a previous blog post or do you know of any good tutorials on setting up those tags initially? Also, I'm just curious, do you find that that extra step slows down your social process of sharing/curating links?

    I feel like that could be a cumbersome step vs. using Buffer to share content and links vs. having to go and build a unique URL for every link you share. Is there an automated way to do these social tags for Google Analytics?


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    • Hello Jeff,

      If you're using the Google URL builder then it's quite quick to generate tagged links particularly if they are for the same content but on different social platforms. For the time it does take, I think it's definitely worth tracking your efforts and is so useful to rate engagement and build future actions from the data.

      Our concern with Buffer is that this is then listed as a third party traffic source which comes up within your references that have contributed to social engagement but is difficult to then decipher what links people are clicking through from - the GA URL builder is a more precise way of tracking this once set up and working.

      Hope this helps and thanks again for your comments!

  7. This is really great and helps in my Social Media Campaigns

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  8. This was another good read I had for today, thanks for this article. Im actually looking for more elaborated updates on how to measure effective campaigns.


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  9. Really pleased to see you mention 'engagement' as an important part of measuring social media efforts. This is quite a misunderstood and misrepresented aspect to understanding the impact of social media, and possibly the most important.
    Great article.

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  10. Some great social media tips and tools here - great work!

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  11. Really great tips! Thank you so much for sharing..

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