Evaluating Social Media: Step 8. Select your evaluation techniques

The authors list several evaluation tools, including interviews, focus groups, surveys, observation, quantitative data collection and analysis, and content analysis.

Interviews, focus groups are pretty straightforward qualitative techniques. Surveys can be used to track qualitative, and in a lesser degree quantitative, changes over time. Observation can perhaps best be translated into the listening skill that is so important in social media.

There is perhaps an abundance of quantitative data in the world of social media. Nearly everything can be tracked. Facebook Fan pages have metrics, there are tools for Twitter out there, and of course, Google Analytics can help you drill down into very specific information about your Web site visitors, what they did and where they came from.

In marketing terms, your sales data will be most important, but paired with Web analytics. You can track conversion rates from landing pages and in Google Analytics, you can exactly track your customers through the purchasing process. With funnels, while your patrons are clicking through to purchase tickets, you can track where they are abandoning the process. This is useful for learning about possible tweaks to a purchase process.

Content analysis can offer great insight into attitudes and social norms. You can assess the quality and tone of the online content, blog and social media coverage. How relevant is the content to your organization, and what is the sentiment in the content? What is the conversation index, or ratio between blog posts and comments/trackbacks? How long does your message remain in the environment?

There are many tools available, but as mentioned, your goal and objectives will tell you what kind of information you need.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at step nine: estimating your budget .

(Source: Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide)