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Posted by Kyle on Feb 07, 2012 under

Measuring social media success means something different for every company, and it's not just about the numbers. Having a group of loyal, engaged followers on social networks is much more important than having thousands of followers or a million “likes.” Getting 50 comments on a photo you uploaded to Twitter is almost always more valuable than gaining 50 new followers. Once you create content that people want to interact with, the numbers will follow.

Social media is not a quick fix that will bring in new customers overnight. It takes time and dedication to build a following on social networks. Strong social media communities are built in months and years, not days.

Keeping on top of how you are doing on each social network is an important way of seeing what is working and what you need to improve on. Monitoring the success of your brand on social networks is critical, but it can also be terribly time-consuming and confusing. Here are a few suggestions for tools you can use to make it a lot easier.

Management Tools

Often, the best time to post on a social network is on the weekend or after work hours. Want to use social networks effectively without letting them take over your life? Several companies have created great social media management tools that allow you to schedule posts days, weeks, or even months in advance. TweetDeck and HootSuite are two great free options to help you manage your Facebook and Twitter account postings and monitor activity all in one place.

Free Monitoring Services

Free services such as Social Mention are a great way to get advanced knowledge about what people are saying about your brand. Metrics such as strength, sentiment, passion and reach of the people talking about your brand provide a full picture of the conversation taking place around your company online. The site lists relevant keywords for your company and the hashtags most often used in relation to your brand. It even lists the top users talking about your brand, which will help you identify your company's top brand evangelists. Insert the name of your industry or a competitor to get a broader view of where you company stands in relation to others on the social web.

Subscription Monitoring Services

Social Mention and similar tools are free, but if you want to take it up a notch and gain access to more advanced metrics, you can try out subscription services such as Sprout Social. Paid services like this give you a wealth of detailed information about your customers and help you align your social media marketing strategy for success.

Facebook Insights

Facebook provides detailed analytics to help you understand who is looking at your business page, how they are interacting, and what content they enjoy the most. Facebook Insights is very easy to use. It provides a graph of your weekly reach, how many people are interacting with your content, and how many people “like” your page. It also provides data about each individual post, giving you an idea of what content your community wants to see and what content they don't. It even shows you the demographics of people coming to your page and where they are coming from.