Measure social media efforts with quick, free and easy tools

If you’re a small business owner or nonprofit organization manager who has been handling your own social media outreach, then you’re probably wondering at this point in the year if your results are paying off, especially if you started using these new marketing and engagement techniques in 2009.  I have a practical approach for you.  The beauty of this approach is that all these tools are free and easy to use.

Qualitative analysis: start with the basic questions about the impact of your social media efforts

Every so often, you will want to check if your hard work is achieving results.  Nothing happens overnight, but you may examine if your social media efforts are

  • Increasing general awareness about you and/or your brand online.  For example, when I go to business networking events, people I don’t know now walk up to me and talk to me because they recognize me from my videos or blog articles.  They are familiar with my company and my services.
  • Allowing you to know your customers or constituents better, and be more in touch with their needs, so you can respond to them with products and services they will buy.  Have you been receiving comments or follow-up questions related to your online content?
  • Creating any leads for your business.  Maybe you haven’t closed a sale yet, but people have expressed interest in working with you in the future.  That kind of relationship has value.
  • Have had a direct impact on sales (or for a nonprofit organization: on the execution of your mission).  And this is the best outcome of all — when you can say without equivocation that a social media effort resulted in a measurable return on your investment.

Quantitative analysis: measure the performance of your social media efforts

If a teacher were grading your social media efforts — your Facebook Page, for example — would you get an A, B, or C?  Or would you find that you had a lot more work to do?  I’d like to know that answer myself!  It isn’t easy to find benchmark data for social media platforms.  I’m sure we would all like to know what is the average expected traffic for a new YouTube video, or how many comments a blog post may tend to get.   One challenge with making generalizations about performance in social media is that there are a few top performers who obtain the most hits, followers, or views.  Viral performance is really not the norm.  And there is no generally accepted way to measure engagement (at least, of which I am aware. If you do know,  however, please add those suggestions in the comments!)

Web Site Performance

Standard: The average number of hits for a web site for a small company (5 employees or less) is about 385 hits per month, according to the folks at HubSpot.

Suggested goal: If you haven’t reached 385 hits/month yet, aim to increase your hits for your web site to that 385 by December.  If you have reached 385, aim to increase your hits by 20% by December.

Your stats: If you have a Yahoo web site, Yahoo provides you with statistics for  your web site.  Otherwise, try using Google Analytics, or refer to your web site stats counter.

Recommendations: If you haven’t done so yet, add life to your web site with linked images, video, and resources.

Blog Performance

Standard: I have not been able to yet find a standard for average blog post traffic and average number of comments.  I tried Trifecta to score the performance of my blog in comparison to other blogs. It’s fast, easy, and free.  And there is always Technorati.

Your stats: If you have a WordPress Blog, you can access stats and charts  like this one:

Blog Views for Conversations in Public Relations
Blog Views for Conversations in Public Relations

Suggested goals: If you’re just starting out, aim for a Trifecta score of 16% or higher, which puts you well within the respectable emerging blog category (14% is under the radar; 100% is the top category for the highest ranking blogs).

Recommendations:  Now that it’s getting colder (at least on the East Coast!), you may see a jump in traffic.  (1) Add your blog to Technorati.  (2) Include your blog in LinkedIn groups. (3) Hyperlink to your blog from your web site (possibly each page). (4) End each blog with an open-ended question that encourages comments. (5) Add videos to your blog. (6) To increase engagement, add interactive features (e.g., monthly polls and report results). (6) Promote your posts on Twitter.

Facebook Page Performance

Standard: Most Facebook Pages have between 10 and 100 fans.  The average number of Facebook friends for personal profiles is 130.

Your stats: Facebook Insights data provides you with all the quantitative information you need to measure your progress (see sample chart).

Conversations In Public Relations Facebook Fan Page
Conversations In Public Relations Facebook Fan Page

Suggested goals: Check your Facebook Insights data for ratings of quality of interactions.  The charts provide so much useful information.  If your page doesn’t yet have 100 fans, aim to increase your fans by 20% and your fan interactions by 20% by the end of the year.  Using “Suggest to Friends” is a powerful way to increase your Page’s fan base.

Recommendations: (1) Add Facebook Page buttons to the sidebar of your blog  and a place button on your home page (you can do this with the Facebook widget, or link to Facebook with an image).  (2) Encourage increased participation from fans, such as comments and photos. Ideas: ask for comments, use the Facebook polls feature, post a question of the week, advice column, contest on employee communications topic, etc.

LinkedIn Performance

Standard: The average LinkedIn user has fewer than 100 connections.

Suggested Goal: If you have fewer than 100 connections, reach out to people you have met at networking events.  Then use, LinkedIn to increase hits on your blog from among the communities of influencers on LinkedIn by joining your industry-related groups and associations on LinkedIn..

Recommendations: (1) Add your blog URL and YouTube Channel URL to your LinkedIn account’s basic info section. (2) Research and join LinkedIn groups that are related to your field.

Twitter Performance

Conversations in Public Relations Twitter Account
Conversations in Public Relations Twitter Account

Standard: The average Twitter user has follows 70 people and has 69 followers, and updates once a day.

Your stats:  Do you follow at least 70 people?  In my opinion, interactions with at least 100 followers are still manageable.  You don’t have to follow thousands to have an impact on Twitter.  Need a chart of your results?  Try Twitter Counter.  In addition to counting your followers, try Twitter Grader which ranks you among all the other people who have tried Twitter Grader (not all people on Twitter).

Suggested goal: Follow a minimum of 100 influencers on Twitter in your field or industry by end of 2010.

Recommendations:  (1) Post links to your content: blogs, videos, image on Twitter (updating your Twitter profile once or twice a day is plenty).  (2) Follow membership associations and experts who are likely to retweet your content.  The best way to get followers is to follow people in your area of expertise.  Conference speakers, reporters, book authors, and bloggers are good people to target for your “must-follow” list. (3)  Another way to find influencers and media covering your field is to use Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts to get emailed news articles and blog posts.   (4) Try for posting videos on Twitter.  (5) Catch the night-owls.  While most experts say you should post content during business hours, sometimes late at night or on weekends can be good times to get retweets of your content (people are bored or can’t sleep, and may be more likely to check out your content).  I have increased my followers this way. (6) Put the Twitter icon (with link to your Twitter account) on your home page and on the side bar of your blog to encourage followers.

YouTube Video Performance

Conversations in Public Relations YouTube Channel
Conversations in Public Relations YouTube Channel

Standard: On average, about half of YouTube videos get 100 views in their first month online.

Your stats: Check out your view counts, as well as the excellent demographics information about age, gender, and location of your viewers.  You can compare the performance of individual videos, as well.  The charts are fantastic!

Suggested goals: Increase your views and obtain more subscribers, say by 20%, by the end of the year.

Recommendations:  (1) To get more YouTube subscribers, search keywords related to your interests and subscribe to the YouTube channels of companies and organizations with great video content.  You can also post comments on their channels (not their videos) to get exposure for your YouTube Channel’s link.  (2) Respond to commenters to your videos, if only with a “thank you for watching.”  (3) Embed the videos on your blog (e.g., “video of the week.”)  (5) Put your YouTube link on your LinkedIn page. (6) Create a playlist.  Just creating a playlist can get you more hits. (7) Tweet your video content on Twitter. (7) Ask your Facebook Fans to rate and comment on your YouTube videos (maybe post one a week as a link), the same day each week. (8) Does your YouTube logo stand out?  If not, have it redesigned.

Please rate and review Conversations in Public Relations on YouTube.

Conversations in Public Relations Video Podcast
Conversations in Public Relations Video Podcast

Video Podcast Performance

Standard:  I am still searching for the traffic statistics for the average small business or nonprofit video podcast (mega-hits like NPR aside).  I am sure there are ways to measure your podcast that I have not yet discovered. In my experience, however, even small scale-podcasts produced by one person can have hundreds or thousands of subscribers and downloads.

Your stats: You have to depend on your podcast host to provide you with statistics, since iTunes, the mega-podcast directory, does not provide subscription or download figures.  I use Podomatic to host my podcast, and I’m using the rankings and charts Podomatic provides as an example. Another free measurement tool for podcasters is Podtrac.

Suggested goal: Without benchmark data, I know it’s hard to compare, so I would suggest that you aim to increase your podcast subscriptions and downloads by a reasonable 20% by December 2009.

Recommendation:  Ask your friends and Facebook Fans to rate and review your podcast on iTunes.  This is one of the most effective ways to increase your subscribers and downloads.  Please take a moment to rate and review Conversations in Public Relations on iTunes.

What are your thoughts?

How do you measure your social media efforts?  Do you have any resources that the average small business owner or nonprofit manager could access?   Please comment with your suggested benchmarks or performance measurements, or your ideas about how to measure results. Budget-friendly strategies preferred!


About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on October 16, 2009, in Social Media Tips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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