I read a post on Social Media Today written by Alan Maites expressing some frustration with the lack of good information about measuring social media. He was bemoaning a piece Brian Solis had written for Advertising Age on Eight Steps to Creating a Brand Persona, sort of using it as an example to say there is no real good practical info out there on best practices for social media. It reminded me that there are a lot of us PR/Marketing/Communications people trying to figure out how to quantify social media. He even included a great cartoon from Hubspot that expressed the dilemma.

It's true—metrics for social media is in its infancy stage, so there is a lot of information out there, but not much in terms of best practices. I have seen some good pieces out there, though, and I'll attempt to steer you towards some good resources.

First, let me come to Solis' rescue—he is most prominently a thought leadership guy. You're not going to get much A-B-C type stuff from Brian. He is a thinker and a researcher. I like his stuff, but always remember his context. I think his latest book, Engage, is great reading when trying to figure out how to frame social media in marketing. It is heady, however. Don't read it in bed before going to sleep. You need to be fully engaged with a highlighter in one hand.

Next, I am going to borrow from Beth Kanter (she writes an excellent blog on social media) who did a review of a free e-book on Facebook metrics on her blog. She tracks measurable data on her Facebook page with the help of a strategy from the above mentioned e-book by Shabbir Imber Safdar of the TruthyPR blog and Shayna Englin who runs her own consulting company. The book is blessedly available for free download here.

 Kanter said she took the objectives of her Facebook page (engagement and listening) and  measured the data that relates to that. She gives a list in the blog post here that she gleaned from the e-book. She mentioned that Safdar and Englin's e-book covered a lot more metrics than she mentioned, but she picked out the ones she felt fit her objectives.

I referenced these two pieces (Kanter's blog and the free e-book) to make a point that the information on metrics is out there, but there aren't any shortcuts to finding or implementing them. But, there aren't any shortcuts to implementing metrics for traditional media either.

I think what's befuddling me is that social media metrics haven't been around long enough to have any real best practices established so it takes some digging and working through. I'd like people to just hand me something I can implement—I don't think we're at that stage yet with social media. But these two pieces give me a good start on understanding how to implement some simple, effective metrics. And, I am hoping there is some carryover power there to other media.

Do you have a measuring system for your social media? I'd like to hear your thoughts--any tools you use?
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