While measuring social media's return on investment and tying it to the bottom line is one of the golden rings most PR pros are trying to grab these days, there are some who would argue that a financial return doesn’t show the true value of social media for an organization.
Regardless of which of these camps you fall into, to measure and paint the full picture of what social media does for your brand—whether your measurement strategy crunches hard data and emphasizes the number of "likes," comments, retweets, repins, etc., or emphasizes the quality of engagement—you need to, at the very least, be listening to what's being actually said about it.
To that end, Brad McCormick, principal, 10 Louder Strategies, and speaker at PR News' Oct. 2 Social Media Measurement Conference, recommends the following five tools to amplify your listening capabilities.
Polygraph is a big-data metrics solution that offers detailed reports analyzing every social interaction on a Facebook page. "What’s more, you can compare your page’s performance to competitors' pages and obtain a level of analysis normally restricted to administrators of those pages," says McCormick. (Price of the service depends on the brand and fan-base size.)
Booshaka gives you ranked data on your Facebook fan activity. It will tell you who your most active fans are, what they are engaging with and when. There is a free demo, but you must be an administrator of your Facebook page to run it. (Free version available; professional product varies by fan-base size.)
Tweet Archivist is a free browser-based Twitter analysis tool with a very clean interface, says McCormick. Tweet Volume Over Time, Top Users, Top Words and Tweet Sources are a few of the metrics it tracks. You can also run comparison reports between different accounts. Tweet Archivist will allow you to track and compare up to three Twitter accounts. (Free)
TweetReach measures campaign reach on Twitter using traditional advertising and PR terms. It allows you to search by keyword, user, phrase or URL. The online version also generates several charts that are easily imported into a presentation. (Free version available; prices range based on number of tracked topics, reports and users.)
Pinerly is a dashboard for Pinterest that treats photos and videos on Pinterest as if they were campaigns. Though still in beta, Pinerly allows you to follow and unfollow pinners (you can easily find pinners who are interested in similar topics based on your interests); view what's popular on Pinterest and repin those items; schedule pins and spread out content throughout the day to keep followers interested; and view pin stats through a dashboard to see what's working and what's not. (Free)
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg; Brad McCormick: @darbtx
To learn more about listening to and measuring your social media campaigns, register for PR News' October 2 Social Media Measurement Conference in New York City.