How to measure social media impact: Sometimes it’s impossible!

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Impressions, click-throughs, likes and so on are all social media metrics that help us measure what is and isn’t working.

january 2015 impressionsFor example, my Tweets had 274,000 impressions in December 2014, a metric that jumped to 455,700 impressions in January. When your reach jumps that much, you’ll notice it. More people start connecting, Retweeting and reaching out for deeper conversations – including on partnerships.

I was the guest on two global Twitter chats – one on content marketing and one on storytelling in the workplace. I’m certain that had something to do with the increase.

But with all the metrics at our disposal, social media’s true value (aka return on investment – or objective) can be hard to measure at times. Let me illustrate through a personal story.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know how much I love it. I really do and people know it. So it was great to see this picture and comment posted to my Facebook wall by co-worker Angie Toomsen.


hashtag sweater facebook post

Now, I do think that too many hashtags can make Tweets look ugly, but I liked the idea of the hashtag sweater. Plus, I liked that Angie took the time to take and post a picture.

I like to wear T-shirts with messages on them from time to time, so I wondered if I could add a hashtag shirt to my wardrobe. I opened another tab and went to Amazon and started searching for “hashtag t-shirts.”

Buy your hashtag tshirtThere were a bunch. Many were too silly for what I would wear in public, but I did end up finding one I liked: A #tshirt shirt.

I ordered it and should be wearing it soon.

It’s clear to see that this purchase can be credited to social media. Angie posted the picture to my Facebook wall, and that’s social media, and prompted me to go to Amazon to search for something similar. Without her posting the picture of the gentleman in a hashtag sweater, I would not have made this purchase. I wasn’t even thinking about it. #Period.

But Facebook won’t get credit for the sale. Remember, Angie didn’t link to Amazon to let me know that I could buy a similar piece of clothing. Nope. I got that idea after seeing her note.

While we can measure a lot of things in the digital world, we can’t measure everything, and I would bet that the impact of social media is bigger than we think (and can measure) it is.