Beyond Hits: 7 New Social Media Measurement Metrics

As with any PR program, measuring the results of your social media efforts is the key to success. However, the metrics have changed. In a recent “Measuring What Matters”  webinar, PR Industry Veteran Katie Paine explained that while we used to measure social media efforts by the number of followers, friends or likes, eyeballs don’t mean much if they don’t land on your content and do something about it.

And forget about hits. Katie referred to this old-school metric as “How Idiots Track Success.” Ouch. Here are a few examples of new-school metrics:

  • Coke and PG&E announced they won’t pay for eyeballs, only engagement
  • A B2B software company in Cambridge traces the majority of its sales to participation in LinkedIn group discussions
  • The Humane Society generated $650,000 in new donations from a social media contest
  • An Exon engineer used crowdsourcing to solve a problem in three months that his company had been struggling with for  20 years

Qualitative + Quantitative

To measure the success of your social media program, it’s important to use qualitative measurement to complement quantitative results. That’s because social media is about more than sales. It’s about conversation, engagement, influence, relationships and sentiment. But that doesn’t mean that social media won’t improve the bottom line. Over time, your company’s ability to listen for need and respond will inevitably contribute to growth. Here are seven percentage indicators we can use to measure the quality of that process:

  1. Increase/decrease in share of desirable or undesirable conversations over time
  2. Increase in share of reposts and comments vs. the competition over time
  3. Increase in number of posts containing a key message
  4. Increase in message integrity over time
  5. Increase in repeat vs. unique visits
  6. Increase in time on site, pages per visit
  7. Increase in downloads

Social Media More Important than Ever

Considering that the ratio of online to print media is now the exact opposite of what it was five years ago, it’s more important than ever to include social media in your marketing efforts. And like PR, social media is a process. It takes time to build a successful program. Seek relationships rather than followers and good results are sure to follow.  Here’s more interesting data from Katie’s “Measuring What Matters” webinar:

 Old School Metrics

 New School Metrics


HITS (How Idiots Track Success)

Couch Potatoes (gross rating points)

Number of Followers/Friends/Fans (unless they generate money)

CPC (cost per click)



Page rank – likelihood of being found

Engagement – some action beyond zero

Advocacy – engagement driven by an agenda

Influence – power/ability to affect someone’s action

Relationships – long-term engagement leading to trust

Sentiment – contextual expression of opinion, regardless of tone

ROI – return on investment. No more, no less. End of discussion


Busting Measurement Myths

Surprisingly, the number of Twitter followers of Facebook Likes you have don’t always translate to the number of people who are aware of your brand. In fact, only 3-7.5% of consumers typically see posts made by an organization. Since eyeballs don’t always equal influence, fewer followers may actually translate to higher engagement rates. That’s why some marketers are gladly accepting response rates of less than 0.25%. If you’re listening for need and responding with help, the quality of your conversations – and the results they bring – are far more important than how many people glanced at your posts and did nothing. After all, influence is relative – your computer can’t tell you who matters most. Use crowdsourcing to find solutions, seek relationships instead of followers.

Six Steps to Measuring PR

Katie Paine knows that companies need metrics. It’s the nature of business. She describes six helpful steps your company can use to its advantage:

  1. Define the “R” in ROI – what problem do you need to solve?
  2. Define how you impact the mission – what’s important to your audience? What makes them act?
  3. Establish benchmarks – peer groups, control groups, over time. Whatever keeps your C-suite up at night?
  4. Define your metrics/Key Performance Indicators – decide what’s important and benchmark against competitors
  5. Use at least two of these three tools: content analysis, survey research, web analytics
  6. Figure out what it means, change and measure again, ask “so what” at least three times

It helps to remember that social media is an ongoing process. Patience is key at any step in the game – whether you’re crawling, walking, running or flying. Know where you’re at in the process and react accordingly. If you’d like more information about how to use metrics to inspire rather than justify, please contact