Why is it that many in social media want to focus on intangible metrics?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for "engagement", "share of voice", "brand awareness" and the like. However, at the end of the day (or end of the month when reports are due) our customers need leads. And we need social media analytics to answer the "what have you done for me lately" question.

You know it's true. Banks don't lend money on "share of voice"

But, when much of the discussion and many of the tools are focused on intangible metrics, how do we get to the numbers on social media engagement which actually enable us to track the customer engagement cycle from awareness through purchase and beyond?

In 3 easy - and free - steps you can roll your own social media analytics package to track real leads.

The Challenge of (none):


There's a big disconnect between social activity and conversion and lead tracking. The social media analytics often pointed to, Fans, Likes, Friends, Mentions, etc. don't give us actionable data to work with.

And worse still, because much of the social consumption and sharing is done with desktop tools we don't get to see those activities in statistical analysis packages.

Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Tweetie, and even email applications don't carry a critical piece of information: referrer data.

In short, a referrer is the last website a visitor to your website visited prior to coming to you. In the case of search, the referrer data also carries valuable keyword data. In social media analytics, it can give you an idea of where your visitors are coming from

Step 1: Use URL Shorteners - the original - built into Hootsuite

URL shorteners help to overcome the challenge of none: you can get internal analytics to show you which links are getting clicked the most.





Step 2: Add Conversion Tracking Code

As they say in the commercials, "But wait, there's more"!

So now you know how many clicks you got right? Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, it's cool, but there's so much more: URL shortners allow you to easily embed tracking code, codes that Google Analytics and other website statistical analysis programs collect and can use.




There are great help files in the Google Analytics URL builder. Suffice it to say, you can track by multiple variables and then slice and dice through custom reports in Analytics.


Step 3: Use Goal Definition in Analytics

Rubber, meet road.

Setting up goals in Google Analytics is super-simple.

First, you have to define the "Goal". Most times, it's a "Thank You" page for a form, or in the case of e-commerce sites a receipt page at the end of the transaction.



Once you know your goal, you have to define it for Google Analytics to enable tracking.


And finally, the proof:



Wrapping It Up

There you have it. From Like to Lead, we've identified our social media followers and tracked them all the way through to goal accomplishment.

By combining a few simple tools we're able to get a clear indication of the return on our social media efforts: the click identifies the source, the click contains additional tracking code, and the tracking code furnishes fine-grained analytic detail.

I'd love to hear form you guys. Any other great ideas for actionable social media analytics?


This has been part 1 in a 3 part series on using traditional conversion tracking for social media analytics. Parts 2 and 3 will focus on "calls" and "in-store" (e.g. coupons).

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