Social Media Measurement, Social Media ROI

6 Critically Undervalued Social Media Success Metrics

People who say social media isn’t measurable aren’t looking very hard.

The truth is that there are at least 25 viable metrics you can use to evaluate the success of your social media efforts. The challenge isn’t measurability, it’s knowing which measures are meaningful.

Here are the 6 critically undervalued social media success metrics.

Daily Story Feedback

Instead of just counting the number of Facebook “likes” you accrue – which signifies nothing more than digital bumper stickering, instead track how often your fans click “like” and comment upon the status updates you post.

The more fans that click “like” and comment, the more likely your future updates are to be seen in their News Feed, dramatically increasing your actual Facebook audience.

If you’re an administrator of a Facebook fan page, you can find the Daily Story Feedback chart at (look in the interactions category)


Rather than paying rapt attention to the number of Twitter followers you’ve corralled, instead look at your Klout score.

Klout is an online influence gauge that combines several data points (followers, retweets, clicks on links, etc.) and then applies some fancy algorithmic voo doo to arrive at a unified metric.

The data used to calculate Klout continues to change (they added Facebook information recently), but I have found it to be the most reliable influence tracking metric. By no means perfect, but much more illustrative than follower counts.


One of the challenges of writing a blog is knowing how to value the wide variety of reader engagements and behaviors. Should you care more about Digg submission than about comments? Are tweets more important than Facebook shares?

PostRank Analytics solves this problem.

Free if you connect with their “influencers” outreach program, or $15/month if you do not, PostRank provides a useful, detailed blogging scoreboard, especially if you connect it with your Google Analytics account.

The best part of PostRank Analytics is the Engagement Score, which is sort of your Klout score for each blog post. The system looks at total comments, tweets, shares, etc. for each post and applies behavior points and an algorithm to determine the total score. This is a fantastic way to look at your last 25 blog posts to see what type of content you’re publishing generates the most engagement.

Share of Voice

Tracking how often your company and/or its products are mentioned on the social Web is a best practice, of course. But without also paying attention to how often your competitors are referenced, it’s difficult to determine whether the chatter about your brand is significant.

To add a reference point to your social mention tracking, create a Share of Voice report.

To do so, determine the number of times your company and its products are mentioned on the social Web in a neutral or positive context over a 30 day period. You’ll want to use Radian6, ViralHeat, Spiral 16, Sysomos, Social Mention or any of the other social listening tools for this project. Then determine how often your competitors are mentioned (neutral or positive) during the same 30 days.

Add up all mentions for the category (you + your competitors), and then divide your mentions by the total to calculate your Share of Voice – which is always a percentage. Usually, Share of Voice reports are formatted as a pie chart, so you can easily see how you fare versus your competition.

Search Volume

Perhaps more than any other marketing metric, the number of people that are searching for your brand on Google serves as a catch-all metric for market awareness.

In many ways, social media and your other marketing efforts create demand, which is then harvested via searches.

The tie between search and social media cannot be overestimated. Perhaps the best study on the subject – from GroupM in 2009 – found that consumers exposed to a brand in social media are subsequently 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand than are consumers unexposed within social media.

Use Google Insights to examine whether or not searches for your company and products are increasing over time, and if your volume is going up, and your competitors’ isn’t – double bonus!

Inbound Links

Without other sites linking to your website, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever crack the Top 10 in Google. Links are the coin of the realm in SEO, and without them all you have is a pile of carefully crafted words.

Social media is one of the best places to accrue links, because we social types are prone to link from blog posts, within blog comments, etc.

Track the number of links pointing to your website and/or blog, and examine the source of new links. How many links do you have, in comparison to your competitors? What sites are linking to them, that perhaps you could get to link to you as well?

There are several inbound link tracking services online. My favorite is Open Site Explorer from SEOmoz. The free version allows you to track and report on up to 1,000 links.

If you’re looking for a magic number that automatically determines your social media prowess, you’re not going to find it. Instead, the secret to tracking social media is tying together disparate data sources, and selecting the metrics that make the most sense for your company. And those are never the obvious ones like Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Tracking social media may not always be easy and fast, but it’s absolutely, 100% doable.


  • Eric Boggs

    I’d add “conversions” to the list. Social media marketers spend lots of time optimizing the top of the funnel – engagement, influence, content, etc. – but don’t seem to do a good job tracking how these initiatives drive bottom-line results.

    Doing so via traditional online tracking mechanisms – goal tracking in Google Analytics, for example – is problematic due to the nature of the social channel – high-volume content, several users across the organization, lots of mobile usage, and sticky attribution problems. Unfortunately, these problems/solutions are well beyond to scope of a blog comment. :)


    Eric Boggs
    Founder, CEO

    • Nick Robinson

      Yes, I agree with Eric about conversions. I would also tie conversions to campaigns created with link parameters in Google Analytics.

  • KatFrench

    I’m continually shocked by the number of people who are managing Facebook Pages for brands and have never looked at Insights, period. And particularly in the last six months, it’s matured to a relatively robust measurement tool.

    Another measurement that is worth looking at is sentiment (although, yes, manual sentiment tracking is cumbersome and automated is sketchy). I still argue that it’s worth looking at, particularly for clients for whom online reputation management is an objective. If you can demonstrate that you’ve moved conversation sentiment from 50% negative or worse to a net positive, I think that matters.

    Good post as usual, Jay.

    • jaybaer

      Completely agree about sentiment Kat. I didn’t include it only because many companies don’t have enough social chatter to really track it with any degree of usefulness.

  • Peter L Masters MCIM

    I’d like to say thanks for being consistently interesting and not just rehashing the same old same old. I’m familiar with SEOmoz but not Open Site Explorer, going there right now!

    Just Tweeted this and shared it to Facebook & all the other good places. We need good info, keep up the great work!

    Thanks a lot from the UK.

    • jaybaer

      Thanks Peter. I appreciate your support. I’ve been seeing a lot more UK traffic lately. Thanks to all!

  • Shailesh

    Great tools in one place with insightful analysis.

    • jaybaer

      Thanks very much Shailesh.

  • Sarah Arrow

    I like using Klout, it also gives area of improvement ideas. As for Post Rank… what on earth did I do before I had it???

    • PostRank

      Aww, you’ll make us blush… :)

  • PostRank

    Great round-up, Jay, and I don’t just say that because we’re included. :)

    Still never fails to amaze me how many entities (from big companies to individuals) are still set-in-stone focused on really old skool metrics. With 80% of online content-related activity happening on social networks, are trackbacks really your be all and end all? (As one example…)

    The biz is still evolving how influence is defined and calculated, but I think the list you’ve compiled above helps cover it — who people are, who listens to them, what they mean to you, and what your content means to them.

    Melanie Baker
    Community Manager, PostRank

    • jaybaer

      Thanks Melanie. I’m delighted to have your support. BTW, we talk about PostRank in the book too.

  • Josh Peters

    Great list. I like using Twitalyzer for gathering data and creating dashboards, and I feel like it’s an underused and undervalued service (not so much a metric). Klout is the one that I’m not so sure about. I see the number fluctuate too much and I also see some weird stuff when it comes to who is influencing who.

    I’ve seen people listed in the “who influences me” section that I have never heard of and don’t know why they would influence me. I’ve also seen people listed in the “who I influence” that I have never seen send me an @ or even an RT so some of that info is a little unclear to me.

    Though if you would like someone else’s perspective I came across this post from the creator of Twitalyzer today that has some great views on services like Twitalyzer and Klout.

    • jaybaer

      Hi Josh. Thanks very much for that comment. Indeed, I read that post. Good stuff. I don’t love the Klout influence/influencer component either.

      It’s not perfect (and I do like twitalyzer too). The point I’m trying to make is not that Klout (or twitalyzer or anything else) is a bullet-proof metric. But rather, that even with their flaws they are WAY better metrics than looking at number of followers alone, which is where 95% of business is today.

      • Josh Peters

        I couldn’t agree with you more about that sentiment. Follower numbers is a terrible way to gauge if it’s a success or not. It’s very easy to “buy followers” with all the crapware out there that inflates your numbers with junk account following. I’m actually doing that right now with an account that’s not my own personal account just to see how well / poorly that stuff works and what real results come from it.

        Thanks for the post, keep the great content coming.

      • Anonymous

        Jay (and Josh) thanks for mentioning Twitalyzer. On your point about no metric is “bullet-proof” I’d love your comments on a blog post I published last night that seems to have struck a chord out there:

        We (sadly) don’t have comments enabled on our blog — need to fix that — but would love your comments here, on Twitter (@erictpeterson) or via email (eric at


        Eric T. Peterson
        Founder, Twitalyzer

  • Ian Greenleigh

    One tip I have regarding search volume is to track the effect of blogging on search traffic to your overall site. For example, I trend over time the percentage of search traffic that is landing on our company blog vs. other areas of the site. If this trends upward, your blogging is likely making your brand more easily found through search engines.

  • Jon Samsel


    When I was senior vice president of digital marketing at Bank of America looking at social media success metrics, I liked to look at online effectiveness from a holistic, cross-channel, ‘rolled up’ and ‘rolled down’ perspective. Quick, high level anaytics that any CEO can digest — with deep, downward data layers that an online analyst can study, transform into actionable insights, and provide thoughts on how best to optimize and monetize. tries to do something like this by providing marketers with a 360 degree snapshot of online brand effectiveness. Brands get scanned and receive a brand health score (like a FICO score for brands), six key sub-category scores (sociable is one of the 6), with free insights into hundreds of brand performance variables.

    Heardable can do neat things like tell you how your brand is losing money online by showing you how you’re performing (or underperforming) against your competition. Ever wonder which brands are tops in a given zip code or industry category? Wanna know the brands on Twitter with the greatest number of followers? More often than not, Heardable knows the answer.

    Just thought your readers might want to take for a spin.

    Full disclosure: I’m the CEO of We’re in beta. Try us out!



    • jaybaer

      Super cool Jon. I’d love to get a demo if I could. Let me know.

  • edward boches

    This is off the rack stuff. The real players have all kinds of custom metrics to look at sentiment, traffic, awareness, engagement, interaction and long term impact of relationship.

    • Ian Greenleigh

      The average company, even in the Fortune 500, has no need for automated sentiment analysis, as I assume you mean. It’s expensive, amazingly inaccurate and not ready for prime time. So, yeah, I disagree with you there.

      • jaybaer

        I’m not a huge sentiment fan either. For my money, I’d rather put custom metrics effort into lifetime customer value of socially engaged customers, etc.

      • edward boches

        It’s not expensive. May not be totally accurate, depending on your keywords and accuracy in interpreting them, but any major brand in the space is wise to be doing it. Otherwise what’s the point of listening at all?

    • jaybaer

      Absolutely right. But I can’t write a post about custom dashboards without giving away the farm.

  • Annette Gildea

    Great post, Jay. Always insightful. Thanks for the primer.

  • Raj

    Hi Jay,

    This is Raj from Viralheat. Thanks so much for the mention. What a great post and a resource for people who are looking for SMA and SMM solutions. One of the great things that sets us apart is the ability to monitor unlimited mentions, the unparalleled analytics you get, and the automated reporting. Not to mention the killer price. If anyone needs any help or has any questions, feel free to drop us a line on!

    CEO, Viralheat, Inc.

    • jaybaer

      Thanks for dropping by Raj.

  • Jorge Barba

    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for the thorough analysis indeed. Not quite sold yet on Klout yet, I use Edelman’s TweetLevel which takes a very general approach (compared to Klout). Would love to know what your thoughts are on Tweetlevel. Is it because they take such a general approach that makes it less useful?



    • jaybaer

      I’m not anti-Tweetlevel at all. I know how much back-end data work Klout is doing – a lot. I don’t know as much about the inner workings of Tweetlevel on the data side.

      It’s also convenient that Klout is built-in to CoTweet, HootSuite and other platforms.

  • Social Media Marketing

    Great post Jay thanks ;)

  • Rachael Seda

    Thanks for all the great tips Jay! I will definitely be putting these to use!

  • 40deuce

    Great stuff as usual Jay, and of course as usual from me a big thanks for including Sysomos in here.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (

  • Tom Matte

    Great post Jay! Keep up the great work. Google Insights is actually new to me! Not sure how that one slipped by.

  • Ricardo Bueno

    I’ve only recently started using PostRank Analytics (including their WordPress plugin) and I love ‘em! Great insight into how your content is shared across platforms. Totally gives you some perspective on what people are resonating with (something you might think is great, isn’t shared as often as you thought it would have). Assess and adapt your content accordingly.

  • Jeorge Peter

    what an eye opener for all them online marketers out there, sometimes they think that success is just about numbers.

  • Lauren Ashley Miller

    Amen! I could not agree more.
    I especially like/agree with your initial point that measuring clicks on your updates, not just your own posts, is very valuable.

  • Eric Melin

    Great post–Thanks for mentioning Spiral16, Jay. Inbound links are something we don’t hear enough about. Not only is it important for tracking the links to your site, but being able to track all relevant links where your brand or topic is being discussed is invaluable. Knowing what portals messages go through is key.


    Eric Melin

  • Allison

    Hi Jay, I think your right about these 6 metrics. I especially agree with the daily story feedback. Just because you post content on your wall, doesn’t mean people see it. It’s important to make sure that you’re putting out content that your followers/fans/readers find interesting and want to read. The daily story feedback is also a good indicator of whether or not your content is resonating with your audience.

    • jaybaer

      Thanks Allison. I agree. Showing daily story feedback without having to click through to Insights is a big help.

  • Dan Soschin

    Great article! I’m constantly helping folks decouple their view of success from “fans/followers” so that they can focus on meaningful engagement. We also measure comments and conversations, in addition to likes. Thanks for sharing… – Dan Soschin (

  • Joan Stewart

    Thanks, Jay, for mentioning Klout.

    I wasn’t able to improve interaction with my audiences on the SM sites until I spent time analyzing my Klout score. I love the little graph they provide, and the stats. One of my goals this year is to boost my score as high as possible and now I know EXACTLY what I must do to really move the needle.

  • Connie McKnight

    These tips were invaluable. I’ve been studying social media for about 7 or 8 month and this is the first time I have heard of some of these things. Thank you.

  • Connie McKnight

    These tips were invaluable. I’ve been studying social media for about 7 or 8 month and this is the first time I have heard of some of these things. Thank you.

  • John Papers

    Wow !! really nice blog. It will be very useful for me. So, thanks for sharing this post.

  • Magento Themes

    Very nice collection and nice thoughts too…

  • Pat Rhoads

    Love how you mention SEO and social media in the same article. Too often people seemed focused on one or the other, but like you said, links are the ‘coin’ of SEO, and social media is a great place for links back to your site to appear. Well done.

    • jaybaer

      Thanks Pat. I appreciate that! It helps that I was a SEO guy long before I was a social guy.

  • Jan Rossi

    I like this part….about links….”….without them all you have is a pile of carefully crafted words.” that is so true. I tell my clients that it is nice to have a pretty website, but if only you and your existing customers see it….how are you going to get new business? We need to drive people to your site with a sort of “reverse” push/pull……searching on Google…..and there you are ranked and someone clicks. it’s amazing how many businesses still do not get the whole SEO, linking, participating in a community thing…..amazing….good information – thanks!

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  • buildandbalance

    I had not heard of PostRank previous to this post. Learning about that tool alone made it worth stopping by. Thanks for pulling this list together. I agree that no one should say social media would be great if only you could measure it.

    Speaking of links, are the ones from your blog Comments follow or no-follow?


    Try out all problem will get finished

    • SallieJohnson  i tried Social Don its a intresting tool as, they need a little improvement. 

    • SallieJohnson  i tried Social Don its a intresting tool as, they need a little improvement. 

  • Tema Frank

    PostRank was acquired by Google. You can now get its data in your Google Analytics.

  • thomas mercado

    thanks for sharing! I’m currently compiling a list of metrics that our company needs and this was a good starting point outside soft metrics.

  • NikhilTiwari96

    Thanks for sharing such a nice information with us it is quite informative