September 18, 2012

Social Media Metrics: Engagement and influence

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{updated} How often have you asked yourself “How do I measure my social media?” ROE and ROI are closely related; and neither should be considered independently. You need to define ROE as the Return on Engagement, and ROI as the Return on Influence.


How to begin measuring? We suggest a service such as Sprout Social, ( which enables you to schedule your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn activity – as well as measure and evaluate how your information is being shared. While there may not be a best way to measure your engagement with your advocates and your influence with your audience, measuring interaction (engagement) and reach (influence) will allow for intelligent insights and data-driven decisions on the type of content that is posted.

Engagement and influence is how you measure the level of interaction (engagement) you’re having with your audience and the reach (influence) those interactions have.

Think about it this way: You’re reading this article possibly as a result of a referral or a Facebook post or tweet. If you’ve read this far, you’re obviously engaged in the article. If you do nothing but read it, I can’t measure what influence the article has had with you, but I can measure its engagement. If you share it with your followers or like it, then I can measure the influence of the article as well as my engagement with you and your followers.

To begin with, consider:

  • What is my objective for social media? It could be awareness-building; cause-focused; educational; or simply to broadcast (counter-intuitive to interactions)
  • Who is my audience?  Think through the persona of the roles of the individuals you want to attract. If you cast your content net broadly, you’ll get lots of followers, but of lower engagement quality.  If you keep your content focused on your mission, you may get fewer followers, but they will be of higher engagement quality and more attuned to your content and your cause.
  • Is this audience using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and possibly Google+? You’ll need to identify where your audience is and if they are using the media.  That means you’ll need to spend at least a little time looking at representative members of your target audience.

Engagement is interaction; interaction is conversation

Engagement is an indicator of how well you are interacting with your audience. In the Sprout Social interface, the measurement shows the ratio of your tweets that are conversations to tweets that are sent out to all of your followers; essentially conversations vs broadcasts. Measuring your engagement in this manner is a key indicator of how well you’re engaging your audience and the interaction with your audience in order to build relationship, affinity and loyalty – which leads to influence.*

Influence is interest; interest leads to action

Is your audience interested? Influence is an indicator of the growth of your followers across social media platforms, and level of interest of your audience in what you’re sharing. Simply put, influence measures the number of followers you have, and how they share your posts.*

It’s a virtuous cycle; engagement and influence work together as in a face-to-face relationship. You’ll be interested in your audience, they will respond and express interest in you, and relationships will continue to be built.


Monitoring your influence and engagement can yield useful information; in this instance our followers are very engaged with a photo we posted, and at best 5% of them are interested in our posts (data shown from Facebook). My conclusion is that we can extend our reach and influence if we post more photos from time to time.


The social media measurement toolbox: Enhancing effective engagement and influence

In addition to Sprout Social (or a tool such as or, of which both allow you to schedule your posts and measure the results) you’ll want to add these tools to the mix to maximize engagement and measure influence. (@bufferapp) seamlessly integrates with the following tools for analysis of follower behavior and analysis of engagement and influence. While the integration is solid and very helpful, Sprout Social’s analytics are deeper and will show the depth of (or lack of) engagement and influence.

9/18/12: BufferApp just added more robust analytics, enabling measurement of retweets, clicks, mentions, potential and favorites.  It's a great step forward for this very robust tool:




Tweriod ( ) analyzes your followers, and will report to you when the most effective time to reach them is. Obviously you’ll need followers in order for Tweriod to be effective, but over time this can greatly increase engagement and influence. Tweet when your followers are online, (measured by when they are tweeting) and you’re more likely to reach them.

Twylah ( exists to drive deeper engagement with your Twitter followers, by capturing and displaying your tweets for a longer period of time. The advantage here is that your tweets (curated content about your organization and interests) is available for search engine spiders to index.

Either Sprout Social or are worth investigating. We like Sprout Social’s reporting, but BufferApp ‘s integration with other apps is deep and allows for creative combinations of apps for longer exposure of tweets. We’ll be doing an A/B test on both platforms and post the results in September 2012.

Do you have Klout?

Klout can serve as an outside indicator of your positioning and your influence, and will show how targeted and focused your messaging is. If your messaging is focused based on the type of audience you are trying to attract, your areas of expertise and clarity of positioning should be reflected in your topics of influence in your Klout dashboard. It’s an intelligent, independent method to measure and analyze your areas of influence, and an excellent indicator of focused messaging and positioning. 

Your Klout score

Klout ( is an at-a-glance way to measure where you are influential.  Klout’s emphasis is on where your organization may be influential, and who you are influencing.


Perception reflects your focused messaging

Using these tools to measure how you’re being perceived (an essential to brand alignment for any nonprofit) will help you measure your focus of your messaging – because of course your social media sharing will align with your communication strategy as defined by your mission!

While this may at first seem overwhelming, consider the measurement of social media return on engagement and return on influence as a path to follow over the next 4-6 months as you start to measure your ROE and ROI, and adapt your social media strategy based on the results of these tools.’

Don’t be afraid to start – your audience is looking for more ways to engage with your organization – you need to provide them the opportunities.

If you’re not sure about how to use Twitter yet, we recommend the excellent beginner guides to Twitter, from :

*Adapted from Sprout Social’s definitions.

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