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Measuring the effectiveness of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

Posted on Jun 29th, 2014 by
measuring twitter linkedin facebook

How effective are your social networking tools?

Here you are. And you stare into a void.

You followed my advice: You defined your social media strategy, which fits nicely into your overall online media strategy. You set your goals and key performance indicators.

Based on all the good advice, you measured your success and now find yourself sitting on a heap of figures. While you understand each of them, it might be difficult to (a) relate one figure to the next and (b) see how well you do in comparison to your “competitors”.

Well, here is one example of what you could do: measure the “effectiveness ratio” of “your vapourware”, your tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Here is a real-life example of eight pretty similar organisations, “Org A” to “Org H”. These eight non-profits all work in scientific research. They defined, as part of their social media strategy, the roles of vapourware as: “to tease people into intermediate content such as blogs, videos and podcasts“.
I took the status of their Twitter and Facebook following on Dec 31 2013, and pulled up their blog traffic statistics between Sept 1 and Dec 31 2013.

webreferral traffic

There are three things we can now measure:

Measure the success within the tool itself

Each social media tool needs to have a significant momentum or “following” within itself, in order to be effective. So we measure the “Facebook Likes” and “Twitter Followers”. Clearly “Organisation B” wins on Facebook, and “Organisation A” on Twitter.
Note that it is far more difficult to measure “the following” in LinkedIn, as we will explain a bit further below.
But only measuring this figure, the success of a following, is not enough. You might have 10,000 followers on Twitter, so what? You need to measure the success of the tool within the function you attribute to it, within your social media strategy.

Measure the success of each tool’s function

One of the functions of the vapourware, for these organisations, is to generate referral traffic on their blog. So the next step is to measure the click-thru’s from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can do this, using your linkshortener click-stats or measuring the incoming referral traffic via Google Analytics. That will give you an absolute figure, which you see in the “Referrals” row in our table: the amount of incoming visitors which came onto the organisation’s blog, from each of the three vapourware tools.

And that gives a slightly different figure: In our statistics, we see how “Organisation C”, which only has 728 Facebook Likes, still managed to get 9,877 incoming clicks from Facebook. “Organisation E” wins for Twitter, with 13,628 click-thru’s from Twitter, even though they don’t have the highest number of Twitter followers from the bunch.

Measure the effectiveness of each tool

We could measure “effectiveness” by dividing the amount of referrals by the amount of followers, which is what we did in the “Ratio” row, in our example: how many click-thru’s do we get per follower?

It is clear that “Organisation C” is the most effective on Facebook, and “organisation E” for Twitter. For these winners, this ranking is the same as for the absolute referral traffic, but the scenery is different for the other organisations: for instance “Organisation B” has much more Facebook referrals than “Organisation D”, but the latter is much more effective in using its smaller Facebook following.

Same for Twitter: “Organisation B” has more Twitter click-thru’s than “Organisation C”, but the latter is more effective as it has only a third of the Twitter followers from the first.

The secrets behind the figures…

Where do the effectiveness differences come from? I have the advantage to know each of these organisations, and how they run their social media outlets. Allow me to use that knowledge to explain the differences:

For the winners:

  • “Organisation C” is the Facebook effectiveness winner. During the period we got the stats from, they ran an online competition on their blog, where the public could vote for the best blogposts. Each of the entries was heavily marketed on Facebook, with custom-tailored posts, purposely teasing people into the blogposts.
  • “Organisation E” is the clear Twitter effectiveness winner. They have a lot of content, and re-post each of those content pieces several times, in different timeframes.

The runner-ups:

  • “Organisation D” does pretty well on Facebook. Their secret is, again, highly customized and manually crafted Facebook posts.
  • “Organisation C” runs well on Twitter. Their online competition plays a role in that, and had a lot of retweets. Competitions always run well on social media.

Those who could improve:

  • “Organisation H” could do better on Facebook: they don’t have a lot of content, and could increase the interaction they have with their followers – After all, Facebook only shows your content on your following’s timeline, if you interact with your followers.
  • “Organisation A” has quite a bit of content, and a huge following, but all their posts on Facebook were automated during the time we took the statistics. It is clear that manually crafted Facebook posts are “read” and “clicked” more often than obviously automated Facebook posts.
  • “Organisation A” could also do much better on Twitter. While they have one of the largest following, their Twitter effectiveness is the lowest. Partially as they do not interact a lot with their following, but also as they don’t market their content aggressively enough on Twitter: they only auto-post every content piece once, even though their blog pieces are really good. They should manually tweak their tweets, inserting a question or tease a bit more, and re-post every content piece several times, using different teasing tweets.

LinkedIn is a different beast

We can not measure the LinkedIn effectiveness in the same way, because LinkedIn works in a different way. “LinkedIn Pages” have limited functionality to promote our content. The most effective way to “market content”, is to actively engage in LinkedIn discussion groups, related to your topics.
As such, the followers on your LinkedIn page is less important, and effectiveness can’t be measured by that figure.

Still, it is interesting to see the difference between the eight organisations, in their LinkedIn click-thru’s: Ranging from 14 click-thru’s in four months (“Organisation E”) to over 2,000 click-thru’s for “organisation D”. Why was the latter so successful? They have several people within their organisation who actively engage in a wide range of LinkedIn discussions, and relate their existing content to the ongoing discussions.

Clearly shows the potential of LinkedIn, if you ask me!

What did we learn here?

  • You can (partially) measure the success of your social media tool as an “in-tool” figure: your Facebook and Twitter following. And you can increase success, by increasing your following within each tool.
  • But that is not enough: You should also measure success, within the function each tool has, within your online media strategy: the click-thru’s, in this case. You can increase your success by increasing the click-thru’s
  • And, you need to measure your effectiveness ratio: having a lot of followers, with a lot of click-thru’s,does not show what you could “potentially” achieve with that amount of followers. That is where the “ratio” comes in.
  • The highest effectiveness on Facebook and Twitter is achieved by manually crafting your posts. On Twitter, you should re-post the same content several times. On LinkedIn, the highest referral traffic is reached when you actively engage in its discussion groups.

One Comment to “Measuring the effectiveness of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn”

  1. Peter says:

    KM4DEV colleague Peter Bury commented via Google+:

    “They overlooked the serendipity on #gloogleplus”

    .. I just wanted to crosspost that comment here, as it is interesting that indeed none of the 8 organisations used Google Plus for their outreach. Some tried, but found it too difficult to build a following. And that seems to go for many nonprofits.
    Seems if any use it, it’d be for communities (limited; dependent on the target public), Hangouts, or for off-site SEO…


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