PR Measurement: Social Media Monitoring Tools

As PR professionals, we’re often asked how to measure the success of various campaigns.  Back in the Stone Age, this used to mean tallying column inches and tracking circulation.  While still key indicators of PR efforts’ impact, those metrics don’t reflect today’s predominately digital news consumption or the rise of social media as a news channel.

Now, we’re focused on website traffic, likes and retweets, meaning that measurement has become about as easy as catching smoke.  With a clear understanding of the most valuable metrics for each campaign and a few helpful tools at your disposal, PR pros can demystify the digital and social media landscapes.

Any measurement effort, including those outside the realm of social media monitoring, should include defining what you’re assessing.  Do you want to track web traffic over a certain period of time?  Is your goal to increase Facebook likes by 20 percent during the month?  Are you trying to offset a negative news item or overall impression of your client?  Knowing your goal and how you plan to achieve it lays the groundwork for more effective measurement and a better understanding of what the numbers mean to the overall success – or failure – of any outreach.

For social media, you’ll want to measure a number of factors, including the content that’s published and shared, even by outside sources; follows and retweets on Twitter; likes on Facebook; and comments and discussions on all platforms.  Also focus on the overall conversation, listening to your audience and engaging with them whenever possible.  One of the biggest challenges PR pros face with social media is that we don’t always control the content; but proper monitoring and proactive outreach can help organizations maintain a positive social media presence.

Luckily, a number of tools are available that can help PR practitioners monitor and more effectively assess web and social media performance.  They range from free evaluation tools to high-dollar analytics engines, so have a budget in mind at the onset.  You can achieve a good mix of measurement using a variety of free tools, but realize that someone will need to regularly monitor the results.

• Hubspot is great place to start for both website and social media measurement.  The Marketing Grader evaluates how your company is performing at attracting people to your site, converting visitors into customers and evaluating which tactics are most effective.

• Google Adwords and Analytics provide free tools for identifying important keywords for your company, products and services.  With these tools, you can determine the top 3-4 terms relevant to your company that people are searching and then create online content across your website, press releases and social media that will maximize your search rankings.

• HootSuite started out as a social media post manager and scheduler, but the service has evolved to include paid analytics to provide additional insight on campaigns across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and WordPress, among others.

• Klout enables organizations to evaluate and grow their social media influence based on others in their respective space.  Users are given a “Klout Score,” which is the measure of influence across all social media platforms based on various attributes such as retweets and followers.  The service also provides a means for you to observe leaders in your industry and emulate their best practices.

These tools just barely scrape the surface in terms of reach and functionality.  If there’s something specific you want to measure, odds are there’s a solution that can provide those numbers.  An accurate measurement of social media success requires diligent monitoring via a combination of tools and well-defined goals that can help you assess the impact of overall campaigns, both short- and long-term.

Curious about how to best measure your online and social media effectiveness?  Leave a question for the DPR Group team in the comments section below.