Colin Deval

Capturing the Full Picture your Social Media Data Provides

By Colin Deval on March 9, 2015

At times, I’ve told people who ask, my career in public relations is one of the pursuit and conveyance of truth. That’s all well and good for haughty conversation over espresso with one’s pinky extended and chin held high (which I’ll never shy away from), but to truly succeed, it’s important to realize a truth is conveyed to deliver a result for one’s clients.

That is to say, that truth is the expression of a story on a client’s behalf to meet a goal. Beyond the importance of direct, human interactions and connections, a social media post (i.e., conveyance of content) is delivered to achieve a goal.

Whatever it is, you’re moving from content (story) to human interaction (“likes,” shares) and engagement (comments, replies) to drive conversions (web visits) and actual key performance indicators (did they buy or sign up?) that mark your success.MeasurementIndex_v2

Impressions. Reach. Loops. Engagement. Web traffic. Attention time. Audience growth. Sales.

TV, radio, billboard and print ads? You’ll get impressions but, with those classic tactics, you can’t measure the action. That’s not to say the impression isn’t important – it absolutely is. And it’s not to say the actions aren’t happening – they absolutely are. But you can’t measure the action a consumer of your brand takes as a result of a commercial.

Social media (and all of its data) gives us an incredible chance to understand our audience’s behavior. We call it data-informed creative and data-informed strategy. We set the goals. We determine the objectives (specific metrics to measure the impact of our work). We develop the strategies to guide creative conveyance of a story in order to meet those objectives and achieve those goals. That’s why measuring and reporting on all that data is so important. It shows you how WHAT you’re doing works toward WHY you’re doing it. It shows you if you’re moving the needle, how close you’re getting to pinning the tail on that donkey, so to speak.

So, when you create content, what can measuring its performance tell you? To demonstrate, I’ve decided to share a little snapshot. This is something I tweeted during the Milwaukee Bucks game on January 19, 2015 at 8:58 p.m.:

This was just a random comment from an excited Bucks fan in Milwaukee, but it does provide some illustrative metrics that help you understand what can be measured.


  • The tweet had 18,528 impressions. That’s a lot for one guy on a Monday night. They came from ReTweets and favorites, none of which came from third-party sources like the Bucks themselves or prominent Bucks media. It was made up of regular fans, only two of which followed me to begin with.
  • The tweet had 29 ReTweets, 51 favorites and 2 replies – all from people who weren’t naturally engaged with my message. They were Bucks fans with whom I had yet to connect.

The most interesting numbers in there?

  • 113 people clicked on my user profile. When they did, they saw my career, interests and a link to a website, but none of that reinforced the message they saw in the tweet. It didn’t say, “Milwaukee Bucks blogger. Visit my blog.”

There was no reason for them to follow me in the future unless they wanted to add a random messenger to their Twitter feed. The other interesting number?

  • Those 18,528 impressions resulted in only four new followers. Of all those impressions, 113 people took an action (a conversion) and only four people took the next step and followed me.

At Core, we use Sprout Social to manage our clients’ social media profiles. It’s powerful and gives us extensive options and flexibility for collaborating with clients and managing data. I also highly recommend spending time with Twitter Analytics to learn the patterns of activity based on your actions. Data tells a story just as much as content does.

If this were a tweet for a client to build their brand with their audience, meeting objectives to achieve their goals, this is how it would have fit in our measurement index:


18,528 impressions and 80 interactions? Pretty good! Was there value in those impressions? You bet! Some good Bucks fan bonding. And, hey, the interactions drove the impressions – can’t have one without the other. But did all those people do anything? No, because I didn’t give them anything to do. There was no call to action. It was just a statement for an impression, like a joke or the many pop culture references you see so often on social media.

Understanding that – how an action creates specific types of data – is how you can use the data to inform strategy development and creative execution.

Now, if it were a tweet designed for engagement – actually asking a question – chances are it would have had a much lower impression total, but a higher rate of engagement. People aren’t likely to share that kind of content, are they? They might answer and engage, but they’re less likely to share if it’s a direct question. If our goal was to drive traffic, grow our audience or drive engagement around audience participation, this was not the tweet to do so. This tweet was designed for impressions, and it got them. This was a statement. Like a billboard. With social media activity, statements help you tell your story, but it’s the participatory and engaging content that will truly drive your growth.

Want a bigger audience, increased website traffic, buzz about a new product, bolstered media relations or better customer service? Each of these requires a different strategic approach, yet they can all work together. You need a good mix, but understand that different strategies in the social space will achieve different goals.

Social media ain’t all puppy dogs, memes and “happy Fridays,” and it shouldn’t be all link blasting, retweeting and waiting by the phone either. If you want to talk through understanding how this complexity can serve you and your organization, give me a call at 414-299-3942, email me or find me on Twitter … where you’re likely to find a fair bit of weeknight Bucks chatter.

Colin Deval is a Social Media Strategist at Core. Follow him on Twitter @colindeval.

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