Defining success in Twitter, Facebook and other social media services starts with identifying distinct niche communities based on shared interests and beliefs. Each community member has different levels of participation and prominence. And in each community there’s an “in” crowd whose actions determine whether others stick around.
How do you know who these influencers are and whether you have enough of them to keep a network alive and thriving?
Success in social media depends on both listening and doing. It’s difficult to measure the listening part, but you can definitely measure how many people are doing something, and what they’re doing.
Success also depends on who is contributing. However, a prominent person’s mere presence doesn’t mean he or she is an influencer. A true influencer posts content, starts conversations, organizes meet-ups and otherwise engages community members.
For a metric to be useful, you need to have a starting point and a goal. Setting a goal can start with a pure guess that you adjust once you have some data. Or, your initial goal can be based on benchmarks from a source that makes sense for your strategy and objectives.
This eMarketer story, “Harnessing Active Brand Advocates,” summarizes findings from a social media survey done by Synovate, a research company. The findings can help you determine whether you have a healthy number of influencers.
The survey found that 26 percent of U.S. Internet users posted online ratings or reviews. Twenty percent contributed to online forums. Eighteen percent attended a meet-up that originated online; almost 6 percent took an active role in organizing one. The numbers didn’t vary much between men and women, but they did vary by age group, as you would expect.
It won’t be easy to gather this info from all of the multiple accounts you have on Twitter, Facebook and other services. Measuring social media is art and science grounded in a thorough knowledge and understanding of what and who makes a particular social network work.
Before even counting influencers, I’d start with coldly assessing whether your news org is in–or out. What would it take to be in–and stay there? Will it ever be possible?
I’m not sure it’s worth the time and resources for a news org to be in a network if it’s not an influencer. Does just being a follower help or hurt? Or do community members feel insulted if they perceive a news org is just putting in a half-hearted, token effort?
I suppose it would vary by community and news org. Oh, great – that’s one more thing to measure and track.