A framework for measuring social media

Do you think it’s tough to measure social media?  It might be simpler than you think.

I’ve blogged before about how game mechanics describe social media participation.
Games have scores.  Scores track progress, which results in success or failure.

Although social media channels seem to be mostly qualitative in nature, user activities can be easily quantified.  Although users interact with channels in different ways, four common factors quantify social media success:  Attention, Participation, Authority, and Influence.

Here’s a framework for measuring social media:

  1. Attention.  The amount of traffic to your content for a given period of time.  Similar to the standard web metrics of site visits and page/video views.
  2. Participation.  The extent to which users engage with your content in a channel.  Think blog comments, Facebook wall posts, YouTube ratings, or widget interactions.
  3. Authority.  Ala Technorati, the inbound links to your content – like trackbacks and inbound links to a blog post or sites linking to a YouTube video.
  4. Influence.  The size of the user base subscribed to your content.  For blogs, feed or email subscribers; followers on Twitter or Friendfeed; or fans of your Facebook page.

There’s an “x-factor” that comes into play well:  sentiment.  The spirit driving user participation matters.  The net result of these adds up to a score for social media engagement.

So what’s the monetary value of a visit, comment, link, or friend?  Well, the only honest answer is “it depends.”  Only you know how much these interactions matter to your brand, regardless of industry, channel, or competitive results.

Now…was that so tough?