In this section we offer tips on measuring how your social media is working both as a way to show results and as a way to decide what activities to increase and which to decrease.

It is important to understand that social media activities almost never work in a vacuum and that in many cases it can be hard to draw a direct line between an action on social media and a result in the real world. (Exceptions might include sharing a Twitter-specific URL, for example, and measuring how many people click through to that URL and what they do once they’re there.) Therefore it is important to understand “social media results” in the broader context of what other activities are happening as well.

Measuring recommendations below are divided into “Good,” “Better” and “Best” with Good being the minimum that anyone investing time and/or money into social media efforts should be doing and Better and Best being things that will offer greater insights but will also incur a greater commitment in time and money. NOTE: Costs mentioned here were current as of December, 2013.

Good:

  • Google alerts: Set up alerts based on your unit/department name, key people and key terms. Setting up each alert will take 5 minutes at most at www.google.com/alerts. Be sure alerts are sent to an email account that is monitored daily. Understand that some social media are not open to search engines (such as Facebook) and some alerts will come hours and sometimes days later. This is not a foolproof system, but it is….free!
    • Cost: Free (but time to set up alerts and monitor alert emails)
  • Platform-specific notifications:  Many social networks allow you to receive email notifications of certain events. For example, on Twitter you can receive an email when your “@” name is mentioned, you get new followers or you receive a Direct Message. Depending on the volume of these you can elect when to receive emails. A best practice is to at least get emails regarding Direct Message as these can easily be overlooked in the Twitter interface.
    • Cost: Free (but time to decide what you want notifications of etc.)
  • Bitly URL shortening:  Use this URL shortening service on all links and then schedule time (about an hour per week) to review which shortened links drove the most engagement (RTS, conversations etc.)
    • Cost: Free (but time to decide set up Bitly account and make it your default URL shortening service on various platforms)
  • Hootsuite - Free: A tool for managing social networks by allowing teams to track conversations and measure campaign results. Allows up to five social accounts, but has only basic analytics reports
    • Cost: Free (but time to use and take note of results)

Better:

  • SproutSocial - Standard: Allows publishing content to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; simplifies engagement and permits routing of issues to internal systems; all of which is integrated into a suite of analytics reports. This level allows management of up to 10 profiles.
    • Cost: $39/user/month
  • Hootsuite - Pro: This version allows a team of 1 – 10 users to manage social networks ,to track conversations and measure campaign results. This version has limits on the number of accounts, the depth of the anlytics and the amount of monitoring it allows.
    • Cost: Starts at $8.99 per month

Best:

  • SproutSocial – Deluxe or Premium: Same as above, but these levels allow management of up to 20 and 50 profiles respectively.
    • Cost: $59 or $99/user/month
  • Hootsuite - Enterprise: This heavy-hitter version allows a team of 10 or more users to manage social networks to track conversations and measure campaign results. This version has no limits on the number of accounts and the amount of monitoring it allows. It has broad and useful analytics reports.
    • Cost: Not public, but said to be $1,500 per month