For most brands, social media activity is part of a strategy to increase influence, build trust and leverage engagement. As a business, these outcomes matter not as ends in themselves, but as a means to growing revenue and sustaining the business.
This is even more important if your business is built around a personal brand, such as an advisor, business professional or owner where your personal relationships and trust are key business drivers.
Once you’ve gotten your head around the need for a social media strategy, the big question for any business person is: how do I know if I’m getting traction? How do I measure returns from my investments of time and resources in social media activities?
This is not an article on social media ROI — it’s an article on how to measure the prerequisites for getting any return on your investment in social media. The day you start engaging clients and prospects with social media and the day your efforts show any substantive return to your business may be years apart. But along the way, you need to know if you are increasing your influence, building your trust and truly engaging people who may themselves one day become customers or will be referral sources for customers.
Many social measurement sites have emerged to track your online activities and then calculate a score or multiple scores representing your ability to influence others in your network. These sites are striving to move beyond simple follower counts to measure influence, trust and engagement using metrics such as “true reach”, “amplification”, “network impact”, “social pull”, “audience quality”, and similar.
Below, I have compiled five such measurement sites that should be considered if you want to start tracking your progress in building social influence. It should be noted that I am open to arguments exposing the shortcomings of any one of these metrics, which is why I suggest that you consider multiple tools for calculating influence. None of them have a patent on truth and each of them analyzes the data differently, so I’d suggest you be pragmatic about it. By considering a variety of metrics, you will get a better handle on the progress you are making in building online influence.
Here are the influence measurement tools that I’ve found useful:
While perhaps not the “standard for influence” (as their marketing would have you believe), Klout has become one of the most high profile influence measurement tools and should be considered in assessing online influence. Notwithstanding the debate over Klout’s methods and measurements, Klout scores are being used as a factor in judging social media effectiveness, if not influence per se. Klout calculates their proprietary score (ranging from 0-100) based on your activity on a variety of connected networks (eg., Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.).
One aspect that I find missing from Klout is any insight into relative performance compared to others. Back in 2011, Klout’s CEO Joe Fernandez disclosed that the “average Klout Score is close to 20 and a Score of 50+ puts you in the 95th percentile“, but I have been unable to find any more updated information and it doesn’t seem to be something Klout is publicizing on an ongoing basis.
Klout offers convenient browser plugins that display a user’s Klout score when you use Twitter.com. This can be a useful quick reference when encountering a new follower or retweeter online.
2. Tweet Grader
This very simple Twitter-based scoring site by Hubspot offers two things I find valuable: a score and a rank. The score is a percentage and the algorithm is a carefully protected secret, yet some insight into the key factors Hubspot considers in their influence grade are provided. I like the fact that a rank is provided as part of the grade so you also get a sense of how well you are doing in relation to others.
3. Tweet Level
This is a nifty little influence measurement tool developed by Edelman, a consulting firm and digital agency that has built a practice around the growing “trust deficit” that exists between corporations and their customers and markets. I like the straightforward language they use for the main influence score and sub-scores in popularity, engagement and trust. Again, a shortcoming in my opinion, is the absence of any quantification of your score in relation to others, though there is some qualitative commentary included below the numeric scores that give you a sense of whether you are hitting it out of the park or just doing OK.
Offering free and paid services, Twitalyzer’s advantage is in pulling data and scores together from various sites and displaying them in one place. Make sure you check out the metrics dashboard after your Twitter handle is scored and you’ll see a variety of scores displayed in one place, including your Klout and PeerIndex scores. Again, I love the fact that Twitalyzer includes percentile rankings for ALL their metrics they analyze as this helps to position yourself in relation to the universe of other users.
Also offering free and paid services, Peek introduces a metric they call “social pull” which is based on how well-connected your Twitter followers are. The assumption here is that influential followers should translate into influence for the person followed. Peek assumes the average Twitter user has a one or two times (denoted as 1X or 2X) social pull and any score above that is higher than average. Peek allows you to compare scores with other individuals, but lacks a way of seeing how you compare with the overall user base. Haydn Shaughnessy has compiled the social pull scores of the top 50 social media power influencers, so this can serve as some comparative reference point.
Built primarily on activity in Twitter and blogs, PeerIndex is in the process of adding Facebook and LinkedIn stats analysis to its score. Lately though, it seems like PeerIndex is playing catch up to it’s more well-known rival Klout, de-emphasizing its subject categorization aspect and focusing more on “perks” for influencers. Yet, over the past several years, I’ve felt like my PeerIndex score was more reflective of my online activities and perception of my own influence. My view is subjective and anecdotal, but my gradually increasing influence has been reflected in PeerIndex as a gradually increasing score. Whereas, Klout scores can fluctuate wildly, shooting upwards for no apparent reason and then declining just as quickly.
Influence measurement is a rapidly developing area, with new tools and upgrades to existing tools appearing on a regular basis.
What tools do you use to measure your own traction in online activities?