How Are YOU Measuring Social Media Success?

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Social Media Blogs
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One of the big topics across Social Media discussions is measuring success.    
One of the reasons this we talk about so much is because in traditional marketing, you are always looking at ROI (Return on Investment). The ROI in social media is much harder to measure and many have approached their marketing efforts in social media without a strategic plan. Without a strategic plan, you have no goal. If you have no goal then you have no idea what success is. If you don’t know what ‘success’ is, then you can’t measure if you have achieved it. And in reality, in marketing, measurement is key. Just because the media is different, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be goaling our efforts and measuring if we meet them.

The second point I would like to make is there is no ‘end’ to the measure. In traditional marketing, you have an endpoint to a campaign. Social Media is more like a living entity, the cast of characters constantly changing, so the endpoint is also much harder to measure as your numbers are in a greater state of flux. Being in healthcare, I can also tell you personally, establishing the goals and measures is also harder because we are not dealing with goods and services to sell, rather we are in Social Media for relationship building, education and providing service to our clients/customers. We are asking for something FROM people and not offering something at a discounted price.

I often follow the discussions on my good friends Facebook page (NEMultiMedia The posts are thought provoking each day, the shared thoughts are lively and fun. We had one such discussion on the topic of using KLOUT, as a tool to  measure success. I have played around with KLOUT as well as Twitter Grader. This post will discuss my thoughts on each of these tools as well as some other random thoughts on how to measure success.

KLOUT vs Twitter Grader
The problem with ALL of these tools is they all use their own measures and look at things a bit differently.

If you read what they are grading you on and what they are measuring, you will see there are some subtle and some blatant differences.

KLOUT calls itself the standard for influence. OK so define influence. Do a Google search for a definition of influence on Twitter and you can find lots of applications that purport to measure this and lots of definitions. So let’s go to the dictionary to get a definition. From Miriam-Webster we can find these that fit: the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command; the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways : sway: one that exerts influence. These seems to fit what we are trying to do. So in its truest form how would you measure influence.

According to KLOUT (’ True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engage audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.’.

But has your customer purchased something? Did they visit your establishment? Did they actually do something besides click, comment and retweet?! A click, comment and retweet is pushing the message downstream, and we want those actions, but is NOT indicative that your customer was influenced by you. They were moved to do something but is this a true measure of success? I would say this is a measure of amplification only…how far you can get your message out and how many people you can reach with that message. To be fair, amplification is one of the measures KLOUT uses to measure influence, but for this reason alone, I would not use KLOUT as my only measure of success.


According to the site ( Twitter Grader is a free tool that allows you to check the power of your twitter profile compared to millions of other users that have been graded. What Twitter Grader is trying to measure is the power, reach and authority of a twitter account.  In other words, when you tweet, what kind of impact does it have? So instead of influence we are looking at IMPACT.  The Webster Dictionary definition of impact is as follows: To affect or influenceespecially in a significant or undesirable mannerTo collide forcefully withto strikeContact or impression by touchcollisionforcible contactforce communicated. Wow I am already worried as I am not sure this is the kind of action I should be looking for!

This is the scoring algorithm they are using

1.  Number of Followers: More followers leads to a higher Twitter Grade (all other things being equal).

2.  Power of Followers: If you have people with a high Twitter Grade following you, it counts more than those with a low Twitter Grade following you.

3.  Updates: More updates generally leads to a higher grade — within reason.  This does not mean you should be tweeting like a manic squirrel cranked up on caffeine and sugar.

4.  Update Recency: Users that are more current (i.e. time elapsed since last tweet is low) generally get higher grades.

5.  Follower/Following Ratio: The higher the ratio, the better.  However, the weight of this particular factor decreases as the user accrues points for other factors (so, once a user gets to a high level of followers or a high level of engagement, the Follower/Following ratio counts less).

6.  Engagement: The more a given user’s tweets are being retweeted, the more times the user is being referenced or cited, the higher the twitter grade.  Further, the value of the engagement is higher based on who is being engaged.  If a user with a very high Twitter Grade retweets, it counts more than if a spammy account with a very low grade retweets.

The Grade Calculation: So, those are the factors that go into the calculation of a score.  This score is then used to compare a user against all other users that also have a score.  The grade is calculated as the approximate percentage of other users that have an equal or lower score.  So, a Twitter Grade of 80 means that about 80% of the other users got a lower score.  At the time this article is being written, over 2.1 million users have been graded.

The Ranking: The absolute ranking is exactly what it sounds like.  Based on all other users scored, what’s your “position” in that list.  A ranking of 5,000 means that only 4,999 other people had a higher score than you (at that point in time).


Is there anything for measurement I like? I don’t mean to sound like a negative Nellie, as I think KLOUT and   TwitterGrader are fun tools to use, however I wonder if anyone ever really gets a ‘bad’ score because all the tools measure against accounts ‘like you’. But they can help you build your online presence but pointing out some areas you might be weak in. So yes, I do use both, albeit taken with a grain of salt.

There is one more application that I do like. You should take a look at Twinfluence Twinfluence speaks in terms of first and second order networks, velocity and social capital, which I think are terms more appropriate to what you are measuring with these programs. I won’t go into it as much here as I would love to hear your thoughts on it after you read up on it. Really pay attention to the first and second order network read though because I think, even if you never use Twinfluence, it can help you understand how critical HOW you build your network is (hint, its not just about the number of followers you have…).


All of these online tools are fun and are unique in what they look at. But in reality, you are only looking at actions that are occurring across twitter, not your entire social media spectrum, and the measure is limited to the actions you and your customer/clients take on Twitter. Does that measure success?   

It comes down to this…very simply, what is your strategy, how are YOU measuring it, and are you achieving it. In my case I am starting some analytics…the goal of publishing blood drives is awareness of where we are, offering places to give, and then seeing if people act on that. My measure is all drives I have published, what the goal was for the drive, what the outcome of the drive was, and what it did the last 3 times it ran. If I am influencing, then my outcomes should start to go up for the drives I am publishing. I am beginning to work on that data now. It is a definite measurable outcome against a definite measurable goal.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these tools as well as any others you are using as I am always looking for new tools to use and trying to learn how to ‘do it better’.    ~Kathie

  1. Kathie, thanks for taking the time to compare a few of the Twitter influence measurement tools that are getting attention right now, and talking about how important it is to have goals and strategies if you’re going to use social media for any kind of marketing. (And thanks for the shout-out about our Facebook page!)

    I got into this field one year ago by just jumping in, and started learning from there. I wasn’t even thinking “marketing” yet — just “learning.” It’s only recently I started to really think, “Does anyone even know what we do at New England Multimedia?” This coming year, I’m setting out to reach specific goals for social media marketing, and then laying down strategies to reach those goals. It’s both exciting and daunting at the same time!

    Goals first, then strategies, then measurement. Tweak, then measure again. Repeat as needed.

    Michelle for new England Multimedia
    Twitter: @NEMultimedia

  2. carloverkat says:

    I like the way you are thinking about it. Because I had to ‘sell’ it here, that is the usefulness of Social Media I had to have an overall strategy first. Why were we going to use it, how were we going to use it and why. We had pages that had become a bit neglected. Interesting because I saw a post just today about letting go of old pages and starting over if you have neglected them. Our Facebook page had to be revamped because it had just been set up incorrectly for a business so that was one order of business but our MySpace page had to be totally revamped so that was first order. Very bad to have media out there that is not being kept up…I would think the order is different if you have been out there for awhile. Even if it wasn’t a purposeful strategy, your ‘watch and learn’ was a strategic decision. Once the ‘goal’ of “I learned what I think I need to’ was met, now you can lay down new goals.

    I too have been going through a watch and learn. SEO, Mobile apps, so much to learn. Can we do it better? Absolutely…and what is the next step? Higher levels of engagement with our existing audience while drawing in more. That is my next line of thought…ok we are out there what else can we be doing. As we’ve discussed before, I don’t have anything to sell. We are actually asking for something FROM people. So how do we make that fun and interesting. I have a couple of ideas in the works so watch for them in the coming weeks and months!

    Thanks for your thoughts! Love discussing with you!

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