17 areas to benchmark for social media optimization

measuring benchmarks - stethascope on keyboardThe second step in any social media marketing strategy, after setting clear goals, is to establish current benchmarks. Really, this is no different from starting a weight-loss plan.

Let’s say you want to lose 50 pounds. You meet with a personal trainer who measures your body mass index, your weight, your resting heart rate and your flexibility. These measurements allow you to track your progress make adjustments as needed. Social media optimization should have the same approach.

Why benchmarks are crucial

There are four reasons why you want to benchmark your social media before an event or campaign:

  1. Know what sites to focus on – What’s your current traffic from Twitter like now compared to when you started the campaign? And is that spread bigger or smaller than the increased traffic from Facebook or Stumbleupon? The answers would tell you where to focus your efforts going forward.
  2. Know what to talk aboutĀ  – When Share Our Strength starts talking about eliminating childhood hunger by 2015 (which is remarkable), how does that conversation impact page-views, subscribers and click-throughs?
  3. Know how to talk about it – In some cases, like with personal stories, video might generate more lively discussions than text. On the oth hand, text might work better if you’re looking to share research.
  4. Know the best timing – When Joe Water’s started talking about Halloweentown early in September, and on through the end of October, what did the trend lines look like? How does your strategy align with the best days to tweet about the event?

17 ways to benchmark social media optimization

There are at least 16 areas you want to measure to establish a healthy social media benchmark:

  1. Subscribers – How many email and RSS subscribers do you have?
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  3. Followers – How many people are following you on Twitter?
  4. Twitter lists – How many Twitter lists are you on? A change in this number is a good indicator of the value you’re bringing to Twitter.
  5. Fans – How many fans do you have on your Facebook Page?
  6. Facebook comments – How many comments are people making? What are the quality of these comments (see more on this below)?
  7. Facebook likes – What articles do people like the most?
  8. Diggs – Similar to Facebook likes, but across an entire site.
  9. Groups – How many followers do you have in your LinkedIn group?
  10. Bookmarks – How many delicious bookmarks do you have, and what content is bookmarked the most?
  11. Links – How many other websites are linking back to your site?
  12. Content – Which blog post have the most traffic? Are those the same articles getting bookmarked? What medium do people prefer – video, imagesĀ  or text?
  13. Guest posts – Of your guest posts, which author gets you the most traffic?
  14. Comments – How many folks comment on your blog posts? How many of these comments are from first time visitors? And what are the quality of these comments? Are there real conversations happening or just “hey, nice post. I agree.”

  16. Visits – How many folks visit your site per day? How long do they stay and how many pages to they view?
  17. Google rank – What pages are ranking high on Google?
  18. Clicks – How many click-throughs are you getting on external links?
  19. Keywords – What keywords are generating the most traffic to your site? Are those keywords relevant to your strategy?

Note: Benchmarks on the last four items can be easily determined with Google Analytics or Woopra.

Qualitative benchmarks can also be set

For example, how do people talk about you? What do they talk about? Are they eager to recommend you to others or not? Do the conversations have meaningful depth or are they mostly retweets of your recent blog posts?

And what are the thought leaders saying about you?

What else can you add?

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John Haydon