Show me some numbers is a phrase that echoes through the halls of every advertising, marketing, P.R. and public affairs office nowadays, and for good reason.
Just a decade ago, the request might have been Make up some numbers. But with the rise of digital publishing, Web advertising and social media --- all of which can be tracked at a click-by-click level with considerable accuracy --- there's no more need to fudge the numbers. You can't get away with it, anyway. Throughout the business world, government and nonprofit sector, people are savvy enough to know what can be tracked, and they expect an honest accounting.
More important now is knowing which metrics to use to put your best face forward. Just because web traffic can be tracked down to the umpteenth click doesn't mean that you should stop there in your reporting. After all, your web traffic may represent just a fraction of your overall reach. And perhaps it is not as central to your organization's mission or strategy as encouraging social media sharing, signing up email newsletter subscribers, or attracting visitors to your bricks-and-mortar location. Fortunately, there are ways to measure these objectives too, and paint as thorough a picture of your brand's health as you are willing and able to.
Below we outline 32 different metrics that can be used to gauge the health and reach of your organization's brand. Many will be applicable to your org, and some will not. Taken as a whole, they offer the brand manager, frontline marketing/P.R. staff, and senior executives a bevy of ways to view and measure a brand.
Essential Metrics for Monitoring and Managing Your Organization's Brand
1. Overall satisfaction surveys
surveys, such as the American Consumer
Satisfaction Index, offer a glimpse of what users are actually thinking as
they interact with your brand, be it online or at bricks-and-mortar locations.
They can be especially useful for government agencies that don't have sales
figures to help get a read on public sentiment.
2. Website satisfaction surveys
website is the virtual hub of your business or service, so how users react to
it can be a useful leading indicator of the overall health of your brand.
Properly deployed, website satisfaction surveys will let you know what your
customers are thinking, wanting and --- maybe more importantly --- hating, as they
navigate your website.
3. Web traffic statistics
users going on your website? How long are they staying? How are they arriving
and leaving? These are all part of the basic portfolio of web stats you should
be watching. Total page views and monthly unique users remain the gold standard
of web metrics, but other data --- time on site, top entry and exit pages, the
search keywords that led them there --- will help round out the picture.
4. Volume and tone of comments
Web analytics services are fairly good at
determining degree of engagement, but not the sentiment of that engagement.
While any news
may be good news in traditional P.R., public opinion is doubly important for
government officials, where the next election or budget round can mean not just
a drop in market share, but the end of their jobs. Pages with a high volume of
comments signal that you're hitting hot-button topics, while the tone of those
comments --- positive, negative, neutral --- can offer qualitative feedback for
your team. The biggest challenge: sifting the wheat from the usual chaff.
5. Mail from constituents
ol'-fashioned snail mail may be a 1.0 way of communicating, but as a gauge of
how your brand is resonating with the populace, it's still very much a relevant
indicator. People who take the time to write and send letters are passionate,
potentially vocal advocates or critics, so tracking what they say is a useful
metric in your overall brand monitoring. Measuring the volume of mail you
receive is a no-brainer. Keeping tabs on the sentiments expressed --- good, bad,
meh --- can be done with varying levels of sophistication, but there's no harm in
starting with a simple 5-point scale.
6. E-mail from constituents
snail mail, your incoming e-mail is a barometer of your brand, with a more
immediate return. Monitoring the volume and tone of the messages to your
"customer service" inbox will show you which issues are resonating, which are
dying and which you'll have to deal with in the future. And because its already
in digital format, keeping tabs on it is a step easier.
7. News coverage volume
organizations paying attention to what your organization is doing or saying? If
they are, you'll see this reflected in a higher rate of news mentions. The
strongest brands find a way of staying in the news in good times and bad. You
want to be part of the broader conversation taking place - it's an inexpensive
way to generate publicity and gain influence.
8. News coverage tone
how your brand is presented and perceived in the media, especially in the
context of which media outlets are doing the presenting, can give insight into
how different segments of the public feel about your brand. Can't afford fancy
sentiment tracking? Set up your own simple grading tool. But invest in a
service that will help you monitor all of your mentions --- you don't want to be
tripped up by stories you didn't see soon enough.
9. Twitter followers
follower count should not be the sole measure of how well your organization is
engaging on Twitter. But it's still an important one, thanks to the network
effect. More followers means more potential for second- and third-degree
connections, and thus greater reach. If your org has multiple Twitter handles,
remember to consider them in total as well as individually --- you may find
instructive patterns in the behaviors of the various accounts.
10. Facebook fans
applies to Twitter followers also applies to Facebook fans, or "Likes" as the
new terminology has them. Numbers do matter. It's almost always a good thing
when your fan count is going up, and a bad thing when it's dropping.
11. YouTube views
On YouTube, videos not people take center stage. So the
popularity of your content --- the number of views that videos garner --- remains
the more useful metric to you than, say, the number of subscribers your channel
has. (Not many channels on YouTube have rabid followings of subscribers.) The
difference between views on your YouTube page vs. those occurring across the
Web doesn't necessarily mean anything for the health of your brand, but may
indicate how viral the spread of your content has been.
12. YouTube comments
YouTube video and you'll usually a depressing display of utter drivel -
comments that make you wonder whether the Internet truly has made people
dumber. But 99.9% of videos don't become Internet sensations, and for the rest
of the millions of videos, the comments section can be more illuminating. What
users take the time to post is worth a glance, and, depending on how vital
YouTube videos are to your marketing efforts, perhaps even a basic logging like
your email and snail mail.
13. Volume of Facebook "likes" and comments
org maintains a Facebook page, you'll want to track the activity taking place
there. Facebook's own "Insights" data gives you a read on visits to your page,
likes, comments, and a few other metrics --- handy built-in reporting that will
save you time. Of course, it will be up to you to evaluate the tone of comments
if you choose to do so.
14. Volume of Twitter mentions
Facebook, so goes Twitter... at least in terms of measuring how often your org is
being mentioned. On Twitter there are two basic forms of direct (public)
engagement: the mention and and the retweet. Mentions, with a capital M,
refer to Twitter posts addressed to you personally, by someone placing your
@handle as the first word. More broadly, you can think of mentions, small m, as any tweet
that references you, by your handle or just your name. Depending on the
uniqueness of your name, the latter may be difficult to track accurately
without spending a fortune.
of Twitter retweets
simply ricochet a post of yours --- or one about you --- to a wider audience, with
or without added commentary. When considering the broader category of mentions (small m) of your
brand, retweets will partly overlap. But they are important to consider as an
independent metric. RTs are fairly
easy to locate using any of the leading Twitter applications, such as TweetDeck
or HootSuite, but compiling useful reports of trends and benchmarks will
require a third-party solution.
16. Slideshare views and shares
Are you on
Slideshare? If not, why not? This business-oriented content network is centered
around presentations --- yes, the dreaded PowerPoint deck --- and attracts a
professional audience looking to get things done. Adding your non-proprietary
slide decks on the site will likely nab you new readers and fans. Slideshare
lists basic usage metrics so you can count views and downloads of your
Subscriptions to RSS feeds, podcasts, etc.
Some tech pundits have claimed RSS is "dead," but there is still a loyal
contingent of people across the Web who manage their information overload by
reading news via RSS feeds. Chances are your website or blog publishes at least
one feed, and quite possibly a bunch of them, divided by subject or author. How
many subscribers do these feeds have? You should know, and add it to your slate
of traffic measurements.
Your organization or brand may not be one that will show up in public research
polls, but if you're in politics or manage a well-known brand, polls are going
to be a fact of life. Watch what they say. Track them against your many other
metrics. Do the poll results correlate you're your Facebook and Twitter
activity, or the sentiments expressed in emails and blog comments? Each poll
comes with its unique biases and faults, so you shouldn't take any single one
as gospel. But if you're fortunate --- or unfortunate --- enough to be the subject
of many polls, looking at average and aggregate results will reveal truths
about your brand's standing.
Attendance at events you hold or sponsor
Are you playing
to a standing-room-only crowd when you host a luncheon or seminar or press
conference? Keep track of attendance --- even rough guesstimates --- at all the
events that your org hosts or sponsors. It's generally easy to do, and again
can be correlated with other metrics to give you potential insight into both
your specific event marketing tactics and overall brand power.
and Conference speaking invitations
to appear or speak at events are indications of your influence, a clear sign that
you're in demand! Hopefully it's not a Groucho Marx scenario, where you don't
want to be a member of the clubs that will have you. One tab of your master
brand management spreadsheet ought to be for tracking key events where you or a
representative from your organization was asked to attend or speak. Also worth
noting: events where you should have been on the dais, but never got the invite.
You'll want to be ready for the next time.
Traffic to bricks-and-mortar locations
in hand with #19, if you maintain a publicly accessible physical location --- a
storefront or library, office or gallery space --- you should be clocking the
number of people who show up. People do vote with their feet. While not
applicable to all organizations in our Internet-heavy economy, any organization
with a bricks-and-mortar location ought to know who's coming and going and
evaluate it alongside other metrics. Colleges wanting to measure the loyalty of
alumni and their propensity to donate, for example, would benefit from tracking
their graduates' visits back to campus.
Appearances in "Best of" lists
Trivial as some of them may seem, lists are powerful influence shapers because
it is easy to remember who fared well (or terribly, as the case may be). Decide
which lists and publications matter to you and your brand, and track your
performance in them. If you're not there at all, or lag behind where you
rightfully think you belong, start lobbying the editors now!
23. Opinions of industry experts
talking about you in the news media and inside industry publications? What are
they saying? You should know the names that matter as kingmakers and
opinion-shapers, and keep tabs whenever they're talking about your brand. For
every mention that columnists or analyst makes in print or on TV, chances are
good that he or she is saying the same stuff to numerous closed-door audiences
and dinner companions. The private whisper campaign may be the more powerful
Mentions in academic studies
Most organizations must reach a certain level of
fame before they garner attention from academia. But once they do, the research
can be highly influential, to the detriment or benefit of the brand. If Google
searches for your organization turn up research papers (by university researchers
or reputable private-sector firms), ignore them at your peril.
25. Tone of Wikipedia entry
Wikipedia may have already reached the zenith of its influence, but it's still
omnipresent on the Web and worth watching for changes in your org's entry. For
many Google searches, a Wikipedia page (if one exists) will still appear in the
top few results. If your org is large or prominent enough to have multiple
pages, track them all, including any personalities --- the people behind the
brand matter too!
Still the gold standard for search, this number represents how influential
Google views a webpage. The higher it is on a scale from 1-10, the more likely
the page will surface high in search results, and the more traffic your page
will see as a result. You can view the PageRank of any webpage by installing
the Google Toolbar in your browser and navigating to the URL.
Presence of advertising on Google searches for your brand
Is your brand powerful enough that other organizations want to piggyback on it?
There's an easy way to measure this. Look for advertising next to Google
searches for your brand, whether it's a product name, company name or person.
Be proud, but also be wary: these other advertisers could divert traffic to
their own sites when the searcher's intention was to find your site.
Knowing the main keywords that bring people to your website (as mentioned above
in #3) will help you concentrate your brand "defense" where it is most
Popularity on social bookmarking sites
Few metrics offer the depth or honesty of social bookmarking, where intent and
engagement are rivaled only by the shared nature of the action. This is a
working model of a metabrain, or the collective consciousness of users across
the demographic spectrum, collecting every idea, issue and brand deemed
important. Are you represented? Reddit, Digg, and Delicious have been leaders
in the social bookmark space for years, but there are other players too.
29. Newsletter subscriptions and content
The last few metrics have been about attracting people to your website --- for
those who do visit, consider looking at not just what pages they visit or how
long they spend, but also what information they take with them. Two main
takeaways are 1) the email newsletter, which has the added advantages of being
social and recurring, and 2) document downloads, in the form of PDF white
papers, reports, marketing brochures, flyers, and so forth. Each of these
takeaways indicates deeper engagement by a visitor than merely reading text on
Everyone knows the "six degrees of separation" game thanks to Kevin Bacon, but
for brand managers and marketers, the first two degrees of any social network
are the most critical. That is, your immediate friends, and your friends'
friends. (In Twitter speak, these would be your followers and everyone who in
turn follows them.) This second-degree reach can be measured, at least roughly,
with just a little math. Because the people in these first two degrees are the
most likely to bear fruit in terms of viral marketing, it is worth measuring
your success in widening this circle.
Job applications received
Much of the data discussed in this article is externally created. But some of
the most important metrics to gauge the health of your brand are already
sitting in front of your eyes. The number of job applications coming into your
organization is a telling sign of how desirable a brand you've got. People love
playing for a winning team... and if your org is perceived as such, you will
likely see employment inquiries and applications surging, whether or not you
are actively hiring. So be sure to make this a part of your overall marketing
Growth rate of Twitter and Facebook fans
The raw counts of fans and followers are one thing, but the rate at which your
respective Facebook and Twitter fan clubs are growing is a more powerful and
revealing metric. This summer, an OhMyGov study of Facebook fan growth rates
for members of Congress uncovered that Republican House members outpaced their
Democratic rivals by 100% in the rate at which they were adding new fans. While
can be skewed by popular figures like John McCain and Sarah Palin, looking at
growth rates evens the playing field. Thus, we were able to foretell that the
House (with its drastic GOP lean) would change hands in a historic landslide,
while the Senate (which saw insignificant differences between Ds and Rs) would
be much closer. Download the complete study here.
Interested in talking to OhMyGov about
developing your own organization's media metrics strategy? Contact email@example.com
Mike Perkins contributed to this story. Have comments on what we missed? Or which metrics have worked well for you? Please let us know!
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