Tracking success and failure in social media

Everyone experiences both success and failure — including social media managers.

A big part of ongoing social media success is to acknowledge and keep track of your successes and failures. When I publish a piece of content that gets a positive — or negative — reaction, many more comments than usual, or more shares than I’ve gotten before, I want to keep a record. I track what happens so I can go back and see what works and what doesn’t in order to improve my process and tactics as I move forward with my social media strategy.

In presentations I often show examples of my own efforts and why those efforts succeeded or failed. Keeping track of success and how I achieved it is as important as the success itself.

Also, like all social media professionals, I have my moments of failure because everything is more immediate and personal on social networks. The most successful bloggers, tweeters, etc. have experienced failure. Baratunde Thurston made a mistake on Twitter that “almost killed” The Onion. Failure is a part of success, not separate from it. Learn from it. Some try experiments (such as A/B testing) with the expectation that A or B—or both—might fail. Track the failure, figure out what happened, and keep the data as a case study.

Some social media managers have smaller budgets than others. While there are powerful, pricey dashboards out there that do a lot more (and many of us use at least one of these), there’s still a lot of value in using free (or low-cost) tools.

Among my arsenal of tools are 4 basics:

  • Storify. Make a digital newspaper of all the social activity around an event or news item. For example, during MIT’s 2013 Commencement, President Rafael Reif spoke to the new graduates and their parents. I collected Twitter users’ reactions in a Storify to remember what parts of his speech caused the most response.
  • IFTTT. Automatically add all new Twitter followers to a specific Twitter list, for example. Automating content archival allows me to analyze the data on my own schedule.
  • Google Analytics. In the audience overview, click “create a new annotation” for a specific date and enter a short note. If a spike in visitors to a site is due to social media tactics, I make a note in the analytics. When I pull reports I want to remember what I did and its impact.
  • Evernote. One of my favorite tools is Evernote. Used in conjunction with Skitch, you can save links, screen shots, and actual content for later evaluation. Moreover, in Evernote, you can search, tag, and organize to your heart’s content.

What tools do you use to keep track of both successes and failures?

By Stephanie Hatch Leishman

    Stephanie Hatch Leishman

    Written by

    Advising organizations on social media strategy. Founder: Apiarity. Formerly: MIT. Harvard alumna. Archaeology enthusiast.

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