9 of the Best Free Social Media Analytics Tools

Want to know what’s working on social media?

Best free social media analytics toolsWord-of-mouth advertising is very powerful. You need to earn the trust of your audience so they will recommend your products or services to their friends. Chances are that you’re already using Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to create engagement and thought leadership in your space. Social media analytics tools can help you make sense of how well your social media marketing efforts are paying off and identify areas that need improvement.

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Content Marketing: How to Measure Its Effectiveness [Infographic]

Content marketing metrics can be confusing and preoccupy your time, so start by selecting a just a few fundamentals to measure.

Content Marketing: How to Measure Its Effectiveness Content marketing is key in today’s marketplace — it is the intersection of awareness and lead generation. Brands must provide a steady stream of articles, photos, videos, and other resources to demonstrate their relevancy and bring in new customers. While some large companies like Sears, Coca-Cola, and Kraft have quickly caught on to content marketing and are able to accurately measure and leverage their results, it’s not always easy to quantify the value of a piece of content. What makes this process so tricky?

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17 Pinterest Metrics Every Brand Should Track

Are you measuring your Pinterest marketing initiatives?

Pinterest users spend more money, shop more frequently, and purchase items more often and in larger quantities than users on any other social networkPinterest has established itself as the dominant online source of visual inspiration. The social bookmarking site enables users collect and share photos of their favorite events, interests, and hobbies. Pinterest users spend more money, shop more frequently, and purchase items more often and in larger quantities than users on any other social network. It has become a huge traffic referral for businesses, but marketers often struggle with Pinterest content strategies. Enter Pinterest metrics.

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50 Top Tools for Social Media Monitoring, Analytics, and Management

Use these platforms to manage, measure, and analyze your social media marketing initiatives.

50 Top Tools for Social Media Monitoring, Analytics, and Management 2013To succeed in today’s connected world, you need to build a community around your company, brand, and products. Over the last decade, social media monitoring has become a primary form of business intelligence, used to identify, predict, and respond to consumer behavior. Listening to what your customers, competitors, critics, and supporters are saying about you is key to getting great results from your social media campaigns. There are countless tools out there, offering many ways to analyze, measure, display, and create reports about your engagement efforts.

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Who is the Modern Media Consumer? [Infographic]

The ways in which people are consuming and engaging with news and media is quickly changing. The sheer number and type of available media outlets, coupled with the regularity of access, makes it easier to stay up to date with today’s changing world than ever before. People are also increasingly contributing to the conversation itself.

This great infographic from Flowtown illustrates how people access, disseminate, and contribute to the modern media landscape:

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100 Ways to Measure Social Media

Social media marketing continues to be a hot topic, as does the question of how to measure it. Like other engagement efforts, it’s important to determine the effectiveness of your initiatives.

David Berkowitz, Senior Director of Emerging Media and Innovation for agency 360i, compiled a great list of 100 ways to measure social media. While this list seems overwhelming at first, Berkowitz says, “Some entries here can be interpreted several ways. Depending on how you define them, some of these metrics may seem redundant, while others may seem so broad that they can be broken out further. Many of these can be combined with each other to create new metrics that can then be tracked over time.”

Here’s the list, followed by the slides Berkowitz created from the list for the Promotion Marketing Association’s Blur event in Chicago where he gave a talk in their digital track about metrics.

1.     Volume of consumer-created buzz for a brand based on number of posts

2.     Amount of buzz based on number of impressions

3.     Shift in buzz over time

4.     Buzz by time of day/daypart

5.     Seasonality of buzz

6.     Competitive buzz

7.     Buzz by category/topic

8.     Buzz by social channel (forums, social networks, blogs, Twitter, etc.)

9.     Buzz by stage in purchase funnel (e.g., researching vs. completing transaction vs. post-purchase)

10.  Asset popularity (e.g., if several videos are available to embed, which is used more)

11.  Mainstream media mentions

12.  Fans


14.  Friends

15.  Growth rate of fans, followers, and friends

16.  Rate of virality/pass-along

17.  Change in virality rates over time

18.  Second-degree reach (connections to fans, followers, and friends exposed – by people or impressions)

19.  Embeds/Installs


21.  Uploads

22.  User-initiated views (e.g., for videos)

23.  Ratio of embeds or favoriting to views

24.  Likes/favorites


26.  Ratings

27.  Social bookmarks

28.  Subscriptions (RSS, podcasts, video series)

29.  Pageviews (for blogs, microsites, etc)

30.  Effective CPM based on spend per impressions received

31.  Change in search engine rankings for the site linked to through social media

32.  Change in search engine share of voice for all social sites promoting the brand

33.  Increase in searches due to social activity

34.  Percentage of buzz containing links

35.  Links ranked by influence of publishers

36.  Percentage of buzz containing multimedia (images, video, audio)

37.  Share of voice on social sites when running earned and paid media in same environment

38.  Influence of consumers reached

39.  Influence of publishers reached (e.g., blogs)

40.  Influence of brands participating in social channels

41.  Demographics of target audience engaged with social channels

42.  Demographics of audience reached through social media

43.  Social media habits/interests of target audience

44.  Geography of participating consumers

45.  Sentiment by volume of posts

46.  Sentiment by volume of impressions

47.  Shift in sentiment before, during, and after social marketing programs

48.  Languages spoken by participating consumers

49.  Time spent with distributed content

50.  Time spent on site through social media referrals

51.  Method of content discovery (search, pass-along, discovery engines, etc)

52.  Clicks

53.  Percentage of traffic generated from earned media

54.  View-throughs

55.  Number of interactions

56.  Interaction/engagement rate

57.  Frequency of social interactions per consumer

58.  Percentage of videos viewed

59.  Polls taken/votes received

60.  Brand association

61.  Purchase consideration

62.  Number of user-generated submissions received

63.  Exposures of virtual gifts

64.  Number of virtual gifts given

65.  Relative popularity of content

66.  Tags added

67.  Attributes of tags (e.g., how well they match the brand’s perception of itself)

68.  Registrations from third-party social logins (e.g., Facebook Connect, Twitter OAuth)

69.  Registrations by channel (e.g., Web, desktop application, mobile application, SMS, etc)

70.  Contest entries

71.  Number of chat room participants

72.  Wiki contributors

73.  Impact of offline marketing/events on social marketing programs or buzz

74.  User-generated content created that can be used by the marketer in other channels

75.  Customers assisted

76.  Savings per customer assisted through direct social media interactions compared to other channels (e.g., call centers, in-store)

77.  Savings generated by enabling customers to connect with each other

78.  Impact on first contact resolution (FCR) (hat tip to Forrester Research for that one)

79.  Customer satisfaction

80.  Volume of customer feedback generated

81.  Research & development time saved based on feedback from social media

82.  Suggestions implemented from social feedback

83.  Costs saved from not spending on traditional research

84.  Impact on online sales

85.  Impact on offline sales

86.  Discount redemption rate

87.  Impact on other offline behavior (e.g., TV tune-in)

88.  Leads generated

89.  Products sampled

90.  Visits to store locator pages

91.  Conversion change due to user ratings, reviews

92.  Rate of customer/visitor retention

93.  Impact on customer lifetime value

94.  Customer acquisition/retention costs through social media

95.  Change in market share

96.  Earned media’s impact on results from paid media

97.  Responses to socially posted events

98.  Attendance generated at in-person events

99.  Employees reached (for internal programs)

100.  Job applications received

And here’s the list in presentation form:

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35 Great Social Media Infographics

[Note: I recently updated this compilation to include some more recent visualizations… you can see it here.]

Here’s a collection of terrific social media infographics that might come in handy. As you probably know, infographics are visual representations of information, data, or knowledge. They illustrate information that would be unwieldy in text form and they act as a kind of visual shorthand, making information easy to understand and consume. They are driven by the same information as charts, but they’re often a better form of communication because of their pleasant aesthetics — charts and graphs can communicate data, but infographics turn data into information.

It’s very helpful to use infographics in presentations, reports, articles, etc., to convey concepts. Instead of poring over figures and long reports to decipher data, an infographic can immediately explain what the data actually means.

Most of these have been scaled down or cropped. Each one has been linked to the original, so please visit the links to view them full-size.

If you know of any good ones that I’ve missed, please leave a comment and let me know!

1. The Social Engagement Spectrum

2. 10 Levels of Intimacy in Today’s Communication

3. The Social Media Effect

4. Social Marketing Compass

5. Facebook vs. Twitter

6. Balance Your Media Diet

7. Social Media Statistics

8. Social Web Involvement

9. The Spectrum of Online Friendship

10. How People Share Content on the Web

11. Donut Marketing

12. Twitter Territory

13. Twitter PR Strategy

14. The Journey of a Tweet

15. The Hierarchy of Digital Distractions

16. When Social Media Attacks

17. The Art of Listening

18. The Conversation Prism

19. Word of Mouth Visualized

20. Social Web Reputation Management Cycles

21. Twitter Statistics

22. The Story (So Far) of Twitter

23. Who Participates Online

24. Gender Balance on Social Networking Sites

25. Building a Company With Social Media

26. The Life Cycle of a Blog Post, From Servers to Spiders to Suits—to You

27. Social Media Spending

28. The Facebook Juggernaut

29. Twitter Perceptions of Google Buzz Over Time

30. Breakdown of the Blogosphere

31. Visualizing 6 Years of Facebook

32. The Boom of Social Sites

33. Age Distribution of Social Sites

34. Make Social Media Work for Your Company

35. The World Map of Social Networks

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The Facebook Juggernaut: Exponential Growth + World’s Leading News Reader?

Facebook celebrated its sixth birthday on February 4th and announced that it now has over 400 million members. That’s quite an accomplishment — just a year ago, the social media giant had 150 million users.

Noting this milestone in a blog post, founder Mark Zuckerberg said:

We’ve made great progress over the last year towards making the world more open and connected.

If Facebook was a country, it would soon have the largest population in the world. At 400 million active users and counting, only China and India have more inhabitants:

Look again at that last number… That’s more than half a billion estimated users. Given Facebook’s exponential growth rate, it probably won’t be too long before the network reaches this milestone.

And Facebook could be a major disrupter in realm of news and media

An interesting post on ReadWriteWeb suggests that Facebook could become the world’s leading news reader and contends that, with a few tweaks, it could be a major player in the distribution of news content. (An update indicates that ReadWriteWeb has hard numbers confirming that Facebook is already the largest news reader on the Web.) A recent article on the Facebook blog encouraged members to set up a news feed on Facebook.

According to recent data from Hitwise, Facebook has eclipsed Google News to become the fourth-largest news distributor on the Web:

Facebook already drives 2.5 times as much traffic to other news and media destinations  (3.5%) as Google News (1.4%). Here’s an illustration of the increase over the past year in visits from Facebook to news and media Web sites relative to Google News:

A blog post at The Atlantic discusses how Facebook is becoming the real news portal for the world these days and notes that it’s not a surprise:

But the emergence of Facebook as a real driver of news stories tells us something important about how news works. Getting our news from our friends is nothing new. It’s as old as the concept of neighborhood gossip. But if Hitwise analytics are capturing a true trend in media, and the share of Facebook outbound links really doubled in the last six months, it paints the picture of an increasingly nichefied world of news readers. Friends are reading what their friends are reading, who are reading what their friends are reading, and so on. It presages the deterioration of top-down news, and the rise of news-reading groups whose news sources and opinions become a centripetal, self-perpetuated cycle of information — or disinformation.

The majority of traffic to news sites still comes from Google, Yahoo, and MSN, but Facebook is definitely a player to watch.

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Measuring Social Media ROI

Companies and brands are finally beginning to fully embrace social media. eMarketer reported in September that 86% of those who responded to a survey of professionals from various industries said they had adopted social technologies. Most said they were using the tools for marketing (57%) and internal collaboration (39%), while almost 30% reported using social technologies for customer service and support:


But despite the broad adoption of social media, measuring its effectiveness lags behind. Only 16% of those polled said they measured ROI for their social media programs:


In addition, more than 40% of respondents didn’t even know whether the social tools they were using were capable of measuring ROI. This means that companies are jumping into the social-media pool without actually accounting for how it will impact their business and what, if any, value it will add.

As of December, about 25% indicated that they had reached the “strategic” phase of their social-media efforts. Those in the strategic phase are significantly more likely than those in earlier phases of the process to measure their success across all objectives. An increase in Web site traffic was the No. 1 goal targeted and measured by all marketers:


Why Measure?

It’s easy to rationalize by saying, “Social media will increase sales” or “Social media will improve customer engagement”, which is probably the case for a lot of brands. But without measuring how these tools work, it’s an uphill battle trying to make them more efficient — how can you improve engagement if you can’t quantify the level and quality of the social interactions you’re already having with your audience?

Companies need to be able to measure the consequences of social media, for better or worse, in order for it to have an impact. But many companies don’t have the faintest idea about where to begin when it comes to measuring the ROI of their social media campaigns and strategies. Measuring social media ROI isn’t impossible, but it can be challenging because many of its components are difficult to track.

As a standard formula, ROI is a pretty basic algebraic equation

ROI = (X – Y) / Y

where X is the gain from your investment and and Y is the cost of your investment. So if you invest $100 and get back $300:

ROI = (300 – 100) / 100 = 2 times your initial investment

For financial purposes, ROI is solely a measure of dollars and cents. But the principles behind it can be applied to any type of investment — including what I like to call Return on Involvement.

2 Great Primers

Social Media ROI, the latest video by Socialnomics, showcases companies that have thrown themselves into social media and gives examples of social media ROI on campaigns. One of the best points made on the Socialnomics blog is that we shouldn’t try to measure social media as if it’s a traditional channel. Erik Qualman, the author of Socialnomics, makes a great analogy: “What is the ROI of your phone?”

(If you’re unable to see the video, you can watch it here.)

And Olivier Blanchard’s presentation, Basics of Social Media ROI, is also a terrific introduction to this topic. It covers covers the definition of ROI, the case for business justification of social media, the actual ROI equation, a step-by-step method for creating a social media ROI proof of concept, and real world no-nonsense advice:

(If you’re unable to see the SlideShare presentation, you can view it here.)

Define Explicit Goals

Before you try to monitor and measure your social media returns, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Having concrete goals and baselines is crucial to calculating your return on investment.

Once you’ve defined your goals, you need to determine the baseline for your levels before starting or changing your social strategy. For example, if your goal is to increase social media mentions of your brand, you need to begin by determining where you stand now in order to quantify the ROI of any actions taken toward that goal going forward. It’s impossible to accurately determine ROI without a baseline.

Some Metrics Tools

ROI is not equivalent to metrics. But traditional Web measures like number of comments, traffic stats, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc. are important components of ROI calculation. Pay attention to what the numbers are telling you instead of focusing only on the numbers themselves. Does a spike in Web visitors correlate with higher sales? When people find your Web site via Facebook or Twitter, do they go directly to the e-commerce portion of your site or click on your product pages or elsewhere?

Mashable’s list of 50+ Tools for Measuring Web Traffic reviews packages focusing on real-time tracking and graphical representations of visitor data. Here are a few options for measuring social media:

  • HootSuite: HootSuite is a great Twitter manager that also offers powerful visualizations of link statistics. The click data enables you to see whether clicks translate into impressions or transactions. Graphs show summary and individual tweet stats.
  • My.ComMetrics.com: Created by CyTRAP Labs GmbH, My.ComMetrics.com is a Web-based tool that benchmarks social media campaigns and blogs in real time, helping companies and professionals improve their performance (impact, engagement, etc.). CyTRAP Labs GmbH developed the FT ComMetrics Blog Index, the industry standard for ranking corporate blogs of FT Global 500 and Fortune 500 companies.
  • Omniture: Omniture has quite a few services for companies, including components that track Facebook and Twitter metrics. SiteCatalyst helps increase the relevancy and effectiveness of the latest Web 2.0 tools by optimizing social networking, consumer reviews, blogs, etc.
  • PostRank Analytics: This suite of tools takes top-level data from Google Analytics and layers social media engagement on top of it. You can monitor page views and visitors (PostRank Analytics will pull this data from your Google Analytics account, if you have one), and you can also track “Engagement,” which is an aggregate score based on how many times your content is commented on, how often it’s mentioned on Twitter, how many people bookmarked it using Digg, etc. You can see the comments and messages that contribute to your stats.
  • TweetMeme Analytics: If you use TweetMeme’s retweet buttons on your site, this is very useful. It enables report generation for any story on Twitter to help you analyze the spread of content. It also provides data on the tweets, retweets, clicks, domains, users, and locations with the ability to export the information.

What About Sentiment Analysis?

A metric for Twitter mentions doesn’t mean much if you can’t tell whether those mentions are positive or negative. This is where sentiment analysis comes in. It’s helpful to look at sentiment before changing or implementing a social media strategy and trying to calculate your ROI. Here are some tools to check out:

  • Crimson Hexagon: Crimson Hexagon’s VoxTrot, an enterprise-level tracking tool, is a listening platform that provides companies with actionable insight into consumer opinion of their product, brand, or market. It analyzes social media mentions by identifying statistical patterns in the words used to express opinions on different topics and helps determine customer sentiment toward your brand.
  • Twendz: Waggener Edstrom’s Twendz is a Twitter-mining Web application that leverages Twitter Search to highlight conversation themes and the sentiment of tweets. Tweets are parsed into three categories: negative, neutral, and positive.
  • Viral Heat: Viral Heat is is a social measurement platform that aims to be a one stop shop for understanding social media. It analyzes hundreds of viral video destinations, Twitter, and millions of blogs and Web sites enabling you to track campaign performance. Its analytics can show you the most active tweeter, identify the quantity and percent of retweets, calculate the percentage of tweets with URLs, show you which Web sites and videos people are sharing, etc.

Interpreting the Data

Finding trends and tracking them back to their inception is the key to measuring ROI. After defining your baseline, you need to use the metrics derived from your monitoring tools to determine how they correspond to improved customer retention, higher sales, increased Web site traffic, or whatever your primary goals are.

  • Is sales your key measurement? If your sales have increased, see how many referrers on your e-commerce site come from Twitter or your Web site.
  • Did you give away coupons in conjunction with a Twitter or Facebook campaign? Calculate which sales are directly correlated by quantifying how many of those coupons were used.
  • Do you see any trends? Does traffic to your store rise after posting on your Facebook Page? What about Twitter? Does store traffic correlate with more sales when evaluating that same data? Does a higher sentiment analysis on Twitter lead to more visits or sales?

What’s your take?

Do you measure social media ROI? What tools do you use? Is “ROI” the best terminology for measuring social media’s impact, or should it be called something else? What have you found to be good measures of what works and what doesn’t work when deploying social media as part of your strategy? Please share your thoughts!

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