Business owners and decision-makers are used to reading financial reports to analyze the performance of their businesses. So, with all of the advice that businesses should be involved with social media, it seems logical to want to measure how it works. But what do you measure? And do these measurements mean anything?

So, if social media is about relationships, then…

You can say you’re using social media for marketing, customer relations or what have you. But you are really having a lot of conversations with a variety of people. So you spend time blogging, chatting with people on Twitter, posting interesting things on Facebook or answering questions on LinkedIn. You build up relationships but there must be some sort of purpose.

Is it about influence or sales?

In a lot of ways, using social media is a big experiment. There are those who try to game social media by finding certain keywords that attract people. So people will write posts about, say, Steve Jobs so you look at them.  And others use lists that increase the numbers of followers. It doesn’t appear that this is truly about influence so it’s got to be about money.

For the rest of us, it becomes more of a question if you’re seeking to be a thought leader or an expert in your field who shares valuable information. Either way, you are building trust with your friends, followers and fans. The people who tweet or post for you communicate your brand and people make associations with this.

What kinds of tools show that people trust you?

There are loads of tools! It’s mind-boggling, to be honest. Here are 10 that are interesting:

And there are even more tools not even named here. But…

What’s the point?

There are more than enough tools to measure whatever you want. You could monitor:

  • The frequency that your posts are shared
  • The methods used to share your posts
  • The number of friends, followers or fans
  • Your ability to reach beyond just your friends, followers or fans
  • All of the above

However, it all comes down to defining the purpose of your monitoring. The reasons you are using social media are your benchmarks for the  monitoring. It seems very clear that there is a lot to learn to make these tools useful to you. Identifying which tool (or tools) will serve your purpose triggers the question, “are these numbers meaningful?” Getting usable information that lead to goals in your business plan is paramount.

What are the most important things to look for when you’re monitoring social media?

Why is this information important?

When would you ignore data from your social media monitoring tool?

How would you describe the ROI of social media?

*Please join us on the Twitter chat on Friday, November 18th at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT to discuss “Social Media Analytics: Useless or Meaningful”