We hear all about “engaging” with friends. Connecting with “followers.” And learning to have a good GRADE on your Klout score or whether you have influence with those who are in your TRIBE.
Hmmm. Social media is not meant to be confusing. It’s simply marketing. And with any marketing tool – you have to measure. Here are some tools and a comparison of the FREE tools.
When I was about 10-years-old, I remember every one of my friends had the Razor Scooter. It was the Mercedes-Benz of pre-license transportation. Suddenly my five-speed mountain bike and teal rollerblades paled in comparison. I had to have one.
When, for my 11th birthday, my mom bought me one, I was briefly overjoyed and then subsequently horrified when I realized it wasn’t a Razor Scooter. It was its distant, black sheep cousin in the scooter family: the more economically-priced Wal Mart Scooter. Would the wind blow through my hair as briskly, the rubberized wheels glide as gently on this Wal-Scooter? And what would my friends say? Would I be shunned from the Tetherball courts and Pogs tournaments?
It turned out Wal-Scooter did, in fact, live up to my wildest scooter fantasies and I was the only one who ever noticed Razor was not obnoxiously scrolled across it. There was no shunning, no denied Tetherball games or Pogs play. Life went on.
Long-winded, nostalgia-laden anecdote short, sometimes less expensive versions fare just as well as their higher-end counterparts. Case and point: social media measurement tools. Unless you are employed at an agency or large company, chances are you won’t be able to afford pricey analytical tools to decode your brand’s online ecosystem. However, there are plenty of free measurement tools online that, in conjunction with human listening and monitoring, can act as a foundation for analyzing your brand’s social media presence, even if you lack funding.
I consulted a few members of the beach cruiser (the adult equivalent of the scooter, of course) fleet at Digital Royalty to come up with a few of the best analysis tools you can use for free:
1) Google Analytics: One of the first and best analytical tools provided for free. Simply insert a snippet of code on your website’s back-end and you unlock a treasure trove of real-time analytics including referral sources (great for tracking the click-through rates on social media directing to your website), visitor demographic and traffic details. Plus, the dashboard is clean and easy-to-read and allows exporting, making it perfect for reporting.
2) Topsy: Similar to search.twitter.com and kurrently.com, Topsy helps you find relevant tweets and volume of tweets within a time span. What sets Topsy apart from other tools of its kind is the length of time you can go back in searches. Most other tools we’ve used stop at around four days before the time of search. Topsy goes back considerably longer and includes an analytical dashboard.
The one disadvantage of Topsy is it only accounts for what it calls “significant and valid” tweets, those that have been retweeted or contain links. Keep this in mind when providing cumulative totals.
3) Twiangulate: Twiangulate allows you to search and compare Twitter users by number of followers, mutual followers and biography keywords. Looking to promote a food-related event to the socially savvy community in Austin? Use keyword search to find biographies including “foodie” & “Austin” or “Austin” & “food blog.”
You’ll be amazed at the ease that you can uncover influential tweeters ranked by number of followers. Similar tools include WeFollow.com, which, while more aesthetically pleasing and easy to use, is opt-in and therefore not representative of the entire Twitter population.
4) Twitter Counter: A simple tool that helps you monitor your Twitter growth and compare it to competing accounts. Twitter Counter also helps predict future growth, compares your account among all Twitter users and plots a clean graph for reporting purposes.
5) Facebook Insights: Like Google Analytics but for Facebook, Facebook Insights allow you to break down those who “like” your page by gender, language, age, country and other attributes and provide a myriad of statistics available in custom date ranges including media consumption, page views, performance of posts and unsubscribes. The tool also allows you to export all statistics.
The one con of Facebook Insights is the 48-hour lag time in statistical updates, so make sure you’re weekly or monthly report deadlines are scheduled with a two-day buffer.
While the majority of these tools only offer quantitative metrics (half of the social media analysis puzzle, the other have being qualitative: sentiment, semantics, etc.), for the social media measuring rookie or company renegade trying to prove the power of social media to the powers that be, any or all of these tools may be to you what the Wal-Scooter was to me ten years ago.
As at some point I had to trade in my beloved Wal-Scooter for a set of four wheels, at some point you might find it necessary to trade up for paid analytical tools or hire a digital agency that not only has access to paid analytical tools, but also the time, experience and expertise to provide you with information that will be truly valuable to your brand.