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Social media marketing has brought a whole new dimension into the game of online marketing. We are  truly in an era where there are an infinite number of possibilities to speak out that we weren’t able to before. At the same time, this means that there is a lot more data to work with. Like most analysts, when we hear ‘more data’, that means fun.

In order to narrow our focus, let us only focus on one subject: social media measurement. Undoubtedly, social media is still at its infancy when it comes to measurement. Many tools have attempted to measure the impact on social to a brand and to websites online. But the underlying piece that most businesses miss when they look at these large data sets is, “how does this help my business?”

An analyst can tell you so much without being presented without the business case you want to assemble. By listing out your business KPI’s (key performance indicators) and tying it all back to social, you will have a better understanding of your business goals and help you define the metrics that matter to your organization.

The 5 metrics presented here are ones that you should consider in your master KPI list, and depending on your business goals and objectives, it may or may not make sense to monitor.

1. Converting Social Traffic

Often times, more time and efforts put into social media, the more traction you get in creating greater brand awareness. If you are actively engaging in discussions on social sites, news sites, blog or forums, you begin to discover that some places give you more traction than another.  How do you know which ones are giving you the most attention? Find out in your analytics data by segmenting your traffic. You can begin tracking your social media referred traffic month over month, and see how that does for you.

The thing I love the most about Google Analytics is its ability for you to tie your business goals with web metrics. While it is great to monitor your social media traffic over each month, it’s important that you make notice of the quality of traffic you are getting by looking at; how many of those actually stuck around and did something you wanted. Ask yourself; did you want your Twitter followers to come and download a document after you sent an update out that linked to a landing page? If you are not seeing this data, you better start looking into setting up Goals.

2. Engaged Traffic

When we talk about engagement on a site, we’re really talking about getting people busy and occupied with something that you’ve just presented to them.  If you’ve poured your soul into article and it resonated with your readers, they will likely respond with some action. So how do we distinguish between an engaged visits vs. non-engaged visits? Two things…

Average time on site, pages view per visit, and bounce rate: The default metrics to look at are these three. If you are writing for the web, then you know how important it is to write awesome things for your readers. If you are writing awesome things, you are probably referencing (linking to) other awesome content. When you accomplish both of those, you should see a higher average time on site, more pages viewed per visit and lower bounce rates. This is one way of defining engagement.

_trackSocial:  If you are measuring social actions on your site today, then you can see how readers have responded to your message. If your article gets tweeted or liked,  the visitor has read your content, thought it was awesome and decided he/she must share it with their network. At Cardinal Path, we evaluate which piece of content got shared the most each month and assign the title of ‘content king of the month’ to that individual. You can do that too!

3. Mobile device conversions

Often people forget – or at least, don’t think much about – mobile, but the adoption rate of mobile usage has skyrocketed in the past couple years.  So why might this matter to you? Your customers are looking for you ‘on the go’. Look at how many visits you get to your website from mobile devices (you can do this within your analytics tool). If you have goals or e-commerce tracking set up, then you will see how much value your mobile presence has added to your business. If you see that your bounce rate is just through the roof and no money coming in, it may be time to start looking at a mobile strategy.

Check out HowToGoMo, Google’s initiative to getting businesses on the mobile bandwagon.

4. CTR on social media channels

A click through is a visit, in most cases. But are you maximizing your chances of getting that click? Is your call to action strong enough? The likelihood of someone clicking on a link and coming to your site for your content, is the likelihood someone will seek you out for help and to buy your products and services later on. Start looking at using or as options to track clicks anywhere you share content. You may begin to see trends such as what day of the week, or what time during the day it is best to share your content. Improve on your messaging and track it.

5. Assisted conversions from social media sites

If you are looking for a list of web addresses to add to your segment of social media sites, take a look at your Channel Grouping under the Conversion > Multi Channel Funnel (MCF) Report. You will find a defined set of social networks that Google has already created (labeled as Social Networks). It’s quite an extensive list, and maybe too extensive for our purpose here but it’s a start.

So why are we here again? A lot of times, you will find that social media visits perform very poorly in engagement (low average time on site, high bounce rate). Much like a toad hopping from lily pad to lily pad, our eyeballs react quickly and bounce away from things that are non-interesting, and stick to the ones that are. Because we can’t extract a whole lot of information from those visitors, we can turn to MCF to tell us if social media was a touch point at any stage of the conversion process. Similar to looking at keywords in MCF, you can group your social sites into specific social media groupings. For example, you may want to make Facebook and Twitter standalone because you are putting more time and effort into those two channels. So your Facebook grouping might include m.facebook,, etc. I encourage you to experiment with the groupings and see what works best for you.

Assisted conversions will help you understand how much social networking sites have helped you lead a user to perform an action on your site that is desirable to your business. Track this on a month to month basis, and start combining these figures with the last touch conversions to get your big picture.


Measuring the success of social is not an easy task, but we are moving closer to cleaner measurement that will allow us to attribute more accurate values to social actions. I would love to hear your thought on my suggested KPI’s in the comments below. If you have any thoughts on additional KPI’s that should be added to the end of the list here, please join our discussion.