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I confess that writing a post about ways to measure social media performance took some thinking, mainly because I don’t put much stock in the typical metrics, like follower count. Getting people to follow you is easy. Getting people to engage requires effort. And with the proliferation of social networks, keeping track of who you are engaging, and where, is quite the challenge. Factor in blog comments and we’re off to the races.
So how to keep track of it all? Simple answer: Tools. Duh. But what tools? Here are some options.
1. HootSuite. I loved TweetDeck. It, along with UberTwitter on my BlackBerry Pearl, played big roles in the growth and development of my Twitter profile. Then Twitter acquired and summarily killed TweetDeck, and I got an Android smartphone. HootSuite has filled the void ever since. HootSuite is especially helpful if more than one person manages your social media profiles, or if you have more than one profile to manage. For example, I have my @econwriter profile, and I also manage the profiles of Clio (@goclio) and Small Firm Innovation (@sfinnovation). To do so, I make extensive use of HootSuite columns: Home Feed, Mentions, Sent Tweets, Direct Messages and then a host of tags. A limitation of HootSuite is the number of columns you can have in a tab, so I have additional tabs and tuck a good deal of tags into them: #privacy and #privchat, #legalchat, #cmgr and #cmgrchat, #leadershipchat, #ABATECHSHOW, #hfchat, #smcchicago. You get the idea. It’s hard to read conversation threads, though. And Google+ … whole other animal. I need a better tool, like Engag.io.
2 & 3. Engag.io and Nimble. I am a big fan of Engag.io, and I am getting acclimated to Nimble. Nimble offers the benefit of integrating with MailChimp, HubSpot and WuFoo, and I love that it imports my Twitter contacts, which are akin to my address book. Engag.io, though, makes tracking and engaging in conversations across platforms incredibly easy and useful. Engag.io offers up an inbox, and from that I can see all the conversations I’ve had (or am still having) on any network. Twitter. Google+. LinkedIn. Blogs using Disqus. (Fingers crossed Livefyre is added soon!) You can add Facebook, FourSquare, Tumblr and Hackernews. More will no doubt come online as well. The beauty, though, is that I can click into conversation threads, like I’m reading email, and respond and move on. It also shows me where my network is engaged, which is key. Getting caught in the echo chamber of social media is incredibly easy. Engag.io snaps you out of the echo chamber by showing where else your network is engaged. Other blogs. Other Google+ posts. Things you may have missed in the constant flow of information. And from that, you can find other people not yet in your network, but worth adding and getting to know. Being able to build your network, and yet still see with whom you are most actively engaged and where, are two priceless social media assets. Engag.io lets you track and manage both.
4. Livefyre. If you follow me on Twitter, my love of Livefyre is well-known. One of my favorite attributes is its ability to bring other people into the conversation. You mention someone in a comment, and you get prompted to let the person know. The person then gets a message, maybe a tweet that says something like “Hey @fill-in-the-handle, so-and-so mentioned you in a comment on fill-in-the-blog-title.” Your followers see it, and the person mentioned sees it. By that one action, the blog has reached a wider audience. An added benefit: Fewer spam comments! Comment spam is a problem, so having Livefyre eliminates something I’d otherwise need to track.
5. CrowdBooster. Yes, I know, it seems contradictory since I don’t pay much attention to followers. CrowdBooster does, though. And it also does something more: suggests times to tweet. An early challenge for me at Clio and Small Firm Innovation was not to overwhelm (or scare off) followers with an abundance of tweets. I didn’t want to copy my @econwriter5 Twitter habit. It does scare people away. (People have told me so.) And the message is different, more targeted than my Equal Opportunity ReTweeter mantra. Fortunately, CrowdBooster not only shows your growth (or decline) in followers, it also shows your reach and then offers up times to tweet in order to reach the largest audience. That information leaves only one variable to test: content. What kind of information, shared at suggested times, gets the most response? When you’re starting out, having just one variable to contend with is incredibly helpful. CrowdBooster sends you a report each week, too, so you can easily track what types of information (article, blog post, RT, etc.) results in the greatest reach.
Such are the tools I use regularly, though there are others I use from time to time, too. Like Twitalyzer. And TwitterFeed, though Dlvr.it might be a better option. Perhaps another post on social media monitoring is in order!
Gwynne Monahan is best known by her Twitter handle @econwriter5. She has written several articles on open source applications for lawyers and legal professionals, and has presented on open source as well as issues surrounding social media. She is currently Community Manager for Clio and is spearheading Small Firm Innovation.
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