On the 11th July I’ll be at the Metrics and Social Web Services: Quantitative Evidence for their Use and Impact event and I thought it would be useful to just document some of the tools, services and recipes I’ve been using with for my personal accounts (this blog and @mhawksey) and service accounts (our main website and @rsc_ne_scotland).
Probably the staple for most people who want to track web content. Why am I including it in a post about Social Media metrics? Well for a while advance users have been able to track the use of social media share buttons (Like, Tweet etc) by using Google Analytics _trackEvent bindings. Recently however Google announced a new tracking binding for _trackSocial which is designed specifically for these buttons and also gets a dedicated section in the Analytics reporting.
For most Google Analytics users you will already be automatically monitoring Google +1 buttons, but for other types of button additional code is required. Hopefully plugin developers will start incorporating this soon but I’m not holding my breath (I use the Sharedaddy plugin for WordPress and they seem to have a slow response to adding other services to the point that I’ve already heavily modified the version I use to include Google +1 and LinkedIn).
[I haven’t spent much time with the new social tracking functionality but I keep an eye on link referral to see if traffic is coming from the likes of twitter.com]
A bit like the Twitter analytics sites mentioned above bit.ly lets you analysis how your content is resonating with the community, but importantly beyond the confines of Twitter. You don’t have the same granular level of detail like who is recommending your stuff but you can see the influence of your bit.ly links in other social networks. A nice feature of bit.ly that Tony Hirst made me aware of is Bit.ly ClickThrus for Your Domain.
One tip when using bit.ly (and a mistake I’ve made) is be selective about the other services which shortens link for you using bit.ly. I’ve plugged my api key in for a mix of personal and work related stuff which means I’ve tainted the stats.
Dlvr.it is not only a great service for automatically publishing material out to different social media channels but it has a great set of metric reporting and tools to help you monitor your content. Recent additions include a dashboard and tracking geotagged tweets. Another nice feature is a built-in tool to add Google Analytics tracking code into your links.
TwitSprout, Crowdbooster (and Tap11 until they wanted to charge)
All three of these do roughly the same thing to varying degrees, providing metrics about twitter accounts like follower growth, tweets that have got the most mentions and more. The feature I probably most use is keeping an eye on tweets that are resonating the most with our audience. For example, ‘Contribute your Scottish words to new online dictionary’ got 5 retweets, 1 reply and potentially reached 7,386 pairs of eyes.
Crowdbooster also has an interesting metric which tells you when the best time it is to tweet something for maximum impact. I don’t know how this is calculated (it might be monitoring when your followers are online, or the times you get the most retweeting, or something else) and whether it is cause or effect.
Things aren’t always as they appear – Visibili
I’ve tried out a fair few Twitter analytics sites and generally they all do a good job. One service I stopped using was Visibili. The reason I stopped was I didn’t like their strategy for collecting tracking data. Unlike the other analytic services that I’ve mentioned which use your authenticated twitter access to read data from your account, Visibili also use it to rewrite your tweets. What they are doing is reprocessing all the links mentioned in your tweet through their bit.ly account. This means they have much more reliable click data to report but it also means if you are using your own shortening service to track click data this information is going to be lost. The video below demonstrates how Visibili do this (basically they duplicate your tweet the new url’s then delete the original. Here’s an archive of a Twitter conversation I had with Visibili about this):
PostRank Analytics provide as service which monitors over 20 different social networks and tracks comments and reactions to blog posts and webpages. I signed up for a beta account after yet another tip of from Tony and unfortunately since then the service has been bought by Google which has temporarily closed the beta programme.
As well as tracking your own stuff you can use it to track other sites. So by submitting the OUseful or UK Web Focus RSS feeds I can see which posts are engaging their audience and even see who is engaging with them. Here is the PostRank report for the UK Web Focus blog post on Plans for “Metrics and Social Web Services” Workshop on Monday. There is more information on the use of PostRank for this purpose in a ReadWriteWeb post, Google Acquires Postrank: A Fork in the Road for the Future of Social Media (PostRank isn’t the first social media tracking service to recently get bought. BackType was recently acquired by Twitter which leaves me wondering if we are on the verge of a social stats intelligence war).
[To see what you can do with with sort of data on the PostRank blog they have a post on And the most engaging TED talk is…]
So having read all of this you might think I purveyor of all knowledge when it comes to tracking what’s going on in terms of my social media presence and impact with a clear strategy on how to maximise this information … uh no. In theory I should but because of poor account maintenance (on my behalf) and because I’m more of a dabbler than a serious metrics driver a lot of this data only gets a cursory glance and isn’t part of a big plan. A new leaf might be required ;)