Facebook, metrics, Twitter

Website Tools to Analyze Social Sharing Activities

29 Comments 31 January 2010

Image courtesy of Ivan Walsh

Why is measuring reach important? The number of times an article is tweeted or shared on Facebook or dug on Digg represents the comparable value of the information to the public, your readers, and your target audience. It also represents potential engagement: if your target audience likes what you are publishing, they’ll come back.

Social sharing is the simplest form of public approval and feedback. Think of it as a feedback loop.

It’s incredibly easy to share an article on Twitter, “like” a Facebook article or link, or save an article to a social bookmarking or social news site. With a few analytics tools you also know exactly which type of information you are publishing that others value enough to share are save. And, most importantly, articles (or videos, podcasts, etc.) that are shared also expose your organization’s message to new audiences. Social sharing is a represents the feedback loop of potential reach, reaction, analytical feedback, and organizational learning.

It’s all the more important, then, to access analytical feedback in order to produce relevant content that extends your organization’s reach and message. Ideally, relevant content moves your readers to action!

Four “must have” analytical tools for your organization that offer social sharing insights:

1. Tweetmeme Widget and Analytics

Tweetmeme is a service that aggregates popular links on Twitter. It is also a widget with analytics. If you are publishing online content, and want to encourage your readers to share it on Twitter, the Tweetmeme button is just the powerful widget you need. The button can be displayed above or below the content, and offers a simple way for readers to tweet articles from  your website without leaving the website. (A pop up appears asking to allow Tweetmeme to access the user’s twitter and tweet the URL.) Most importantly, once you add the Tweetmeme button to your blog (or site), the Tweetmeme button publicly displays the number of times an article has been tweeted and you can see who has tweeted itWhoever tweets or retweets your organizaation’s content is a potential fan or stakeholder.

As an illustration, you can view my blog’s Tweetmeme button at the bottom of this post. Below is a sample screen shot illustrating who tweeted my blog post entitled “Is Bureaucracy the Enemy of Social Media?” You can view more at Tweetmeme.com.

2. Facebook Share Widget and Analytics

Facebook rolled out a share widget in late 2009 that counts shares and offers analytics. Not surprisingly, there is a WordPress plugin as well (which I added to this blog). The button works exactly like the Tweetmeme button: readers don’t leave the page, the widget uses permission-based Facebook sharing, and the it offers powerful analytics. In fact, the analytics are incredible: see below.  The only thing it does not show is who shared your article, liked it, or clicked on it.

Below is a screen shot of the Facebook analytics overview, as viewed in WordPress Plugin Settings:

3. Add This Share Button and Analytics

There are a lot of social sharing buttons around, but AddThis offers exceptional value. Each week, AddThis offers site administrators detailed sharing analytics about where readers shared your information, total number of shares, sharing trends, and geographical sharing by continent. I think that most interesting feature of AddThis is the different methods that readers used to share content. You can use it to look at trends and understand how your readership prefers to share. Be sure to incorporate this feedback into your website. For example, if the most frequent type of share from your site is via email, then be sure to offer an email subscription service and an RSS feed via email.

I changed my website’s sharing button to AddThis on January 21. Here is a screen shot of my AddThis sharing analytics from January 21 -30, 2010:

AddThis Social Sharing Analytics January 21 - 30, 2010

4. Google Analytics Firefox Extension

The Google Analytics Firefox Extension offers a number of additions to Google Analytics, including social media metrics. This extension integrates the shares from your website to Sphinn, Mixx, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious and Yahoo into your Google Analytics, displaying shares by content. I wish that it revealed shares to Twitter and Facebook, but the sharing widgets mentioned above more than make up for this.

One specific issue: I know that some of my blog posts have been “stumbled,” but have not shown up in here.  The extension displays StumbleUpon reviews, but not “likes” or “stumbles.” As far as I can tell, it’s the only fault with the extension: if a post is “stumbled” but not reviewed, it does not appear in this set of analytics.

How do you measure social media sharing? What other tools analyze online sharing activities? What have you learned from your use of them?

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  • Debra, interesting list. I switched away from TweetMeme to Backtype Tweetcount because of this post on WordPress plugins. One of the things I dislike about TweetMeme is you can no longer edit the tweet. I don’t like tweeting RT @TweetMeme on a Twitter post. You still get the analytics.

    I didn’t know about Facebook Share – nice to hear one can get analytics. Often hard to get stats about FB.

    [Reply]

  • Debra, interesting list. I switched away from TweetMeme to Backtype Tweetcount because of this post on WordPress plugins. One of the things I dislike about TweetMeme is you can no longer edit the tweet. I don’t like tweeting RT @TweetMeme on a Twitter post. You still get the analytics.

    I didn’t know about Facebook Share – nice to hear one can get analytics. Often hard to get stats about FB.

    [Reply]

  • Hi Leora,
    I hadn’t heard of Backype Tweetcount – I’ll have to look into it. After reading your link to the 15 Best WordPress Plugins for 2010, I may be convinced to change to Backtype Tweetcount as well. As for Facebook sharing counts, I found out about Facebook Share when researching this post, and I’m super excited to have it!

    As far as my experience with Tweetmeme, you can edit the tweet coming from your WordPress blog: tweets from my blog posts begin with “RT @askdebra.” I made the change in the Settings section of the Tweetmeme plugin by adding @askdebra in the “source” area. I also edit tweets that I send out from someone else’s Tweetmeme.

    [Reply]

  • Hi Leora,
    I hadn’t heard of Backype Tweetcount – I’ll have to look into it. After reading your link to the 15 Best WordPress Plugins for 2010, I may be convinced to change to Backtype Tweetcount as well. As for Facebook sharing counts, I found out about Facebook Share when researching this post, and I’m super excited to have it!

    As far as my experience with Tweetmeme, you can edit the tweet coming from your WordPress blog: tweets from my blog posts begin with “RT @askdebra.” I made the change in the Settings section of the Tweetmeme plugin by adding @askdebra in the “source” area. I also edit tweets that I send out from someone else’s Tweetmeme.

    [Reply]

  • “you can edit the tweet coming from your WordPress blog” – this refers to the person who owns the blog. What if you are the person who is clicking the button? You used to be able to change the tweet (or add to it), but they took that step away. With Backtype Tweetcount you can edit it after you click the button.

    “I also edit tweets that I send out from someone else’s Tweetmeme.” – whenever I’ve clicked recently, I haven’t been able to edit. I used to be able to do so.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Leora,
    As you mentioned on Twitter: if you go to http://my.tweetmeme.com/profile you can change whether you can edit tweet or tweet straight through without edits. That seems to answer the issue. In my Tweetmeme profile, I chose the ability to edit the tweet before it gets sent to twitter. However, I will also begin looking into Backtype Tweetcount as an alternative. Good discussion!

    [Reply]

  • “you can edit the tweet coming from your WordPress blog” – this refers to the person who owns the blog. What if you are the person who is clicking the button? You used to be able to change the tweet (or add to it), but they took that step away. With Backtype Tweetcount you can edit it after you click the button.

    “I also edit tweets that I send out from someone else’s Tweetmeme.” – whenever I’ve clicked recently, I haven’t been able to edit. I used to be able to do so.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Leora,
    As you mentioned on Twitter: if you go to http://my.tweetmeme.com/profile you can change whether you can edit tweet or tweet straight through without edits. That seems to answer the issue. In my Tweetmeme profile, I chose the ability to edit the tweet before it gets sent to twitter. However, I will also begin looking into Backtype Tweetcount as an alternative. Good discussion!

    [Reply]

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  • Debra,

    I was very excited upon seeing this topic in Facebook, gotta jump over and leave you a message no matter what.

    May I ask about AddThis, impressive as it is for able to keep track of readers’ behaviors in post-sharing: Is it only limited to readers who shared through ‘Add This’? What if I stumbled the post outside AddThis? will that be included somehow?

    Thanks in advance.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Ching Ya,
    I don’t know the answer to your question, but my guess is that it would not show statistics for actions not taken via the AddThis button. You can see that via the Google Analytics Firefox Extension. However, as I noticed, I do think that extension misses some of the stumbles. Just to be sure, I’ll ask the question in the AddThis user’s forum.

    Thanks so much for jumping from Facebook over here to leave your comment and question!

    [Reply]

  • Debra,

    I was very excited upon seeing this topic in Facebook, gotta jump over and leave you a message no matter what.

    May I ask about AddThis, impressive as it is for able to keep track of readers’ behaviors in post-sharing: Is it only limited to readers who shared through ‘Add This’? What if I stumbled the post outside AddThis? will that be included somehow?

    Thanks in advance.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Ching Ya,
    I don’t know the answer to your question, but my guess is that it would not show statistics for actions not taken via the AddThis button. You can see that via the Google Analytics Firefox Extension. However, as I noticed, I do think that extension misses some of the stumbles. Just to be sure, I’ll ask the question in the AddThis user’s forum.

    Thanks so much for jumping from Facebook over here to leave your comment and question!

    [Reply]

  • Thank you so much for the prompt reply. 🙂 I appreciate it a great deal! I’ll be watching out for any feedback you can get from AddThis. Yes, the FF extension can do the trick pretty well, really excited to learn more about ways to track our performances on bookmarking sites.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

    [Reply]

  • Thank you so much for the prompt reply. 🙂 I appreciate it a great deal! I’ll be watching out for any feedback you can get from AddThis. Yes, the FF extension can do the trick pretty well, really excited to learn more about ways to track our performances on bookmarking sites.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

    [Reply]

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  • Hi Debra.

    Great article here.

    Been looking for some new strategies to analyze my social media efforts. Have some great tools I use for Twitter. But was looking to expand it to cover a wider area of my efforts.

    I use Sociable for my bookmark option, and I might also check into AddThis.

    The Facebook share widget was just one of those reminders you need some days.

    Thanks..

    Cheers.. Are

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Are,
    Thanks! I’d love to read about which Twitter tools you use for social sharing that contain analysis as well. Feel free to stop by again and post them!

    [Reply]

  • Hi Debra.

    Great article here.

    Been looking for some new strategies to analyze my social media efforts. Have some great tools I use for Twitter. But was looking to expand it to cover a wider area of my efforts.

    I use Sociable for my bookmark option, and I might also check into AddThis.

    The Facebook share widget was just one of those reminders you need some days.

    Thanks..

    Cheers.. Are

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Are,
    Thanks! I’d love to read about which Twitter tools you use for social sharing that contain analysis as well. Feel free to stop by again and post them!

    [Reply]

  • I just had one question regarding the tweets. Do you feel the follow through on tweets gets converting traffic, or is it to fast and to short lived of an environment to have any effect on traffic converting into a email or a conversion for a website? Just wondering because we have not seen a big effect with twitter and a good amount with facebook. Maybe its just our website http://www.generationrecycle.org. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  • Hi Trish,
    Twitter tends to be fast and short-lived, as you mention. However, a consistent twitter presence will drive people to a website for new information on a regular basis. If used this way, I find that Twitter actually has a decent conversion rate. I also recommend a specific Twitter landing page on the website – this also really helps with conversions. Thanks for your question – wonder if anyone else following this conversation has a thought on this.

    [Reply]

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  • This is a great list. I’ve been frustrated with not being able to track shares. When you are free at WordPress.com, you can track sharing, but not without plugins when self-hosting. I’m going to try these out and see what works the best.

    [Reply]

  • Hi there,

    I installed the Google Analytics plugin, but I’m not seeing where I should be looking for the social bookmarking sharing results. I’ve looked in the dashboard and on certain posts, but am not seeing anything resembling clicks on the social bookmarks I have installed. Could you provide a bit more guidance on that, please?

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Megan, My analytics seem to be working, though the extension was problematic for a bit after the last Firefox upgrade. The problem has since been fixed.

    After reading through the user comments in the Firefox Extension (http://blog.vkistudios.com/index.cfm/2008/10/6/social-media-metrics-greasemonkey-plugin-for-google-analytics), I have two thoughts about why it isn’t showing up: either you are not viewing it with Firefox Mozilla browser, or you do not have the Greasemonkey script enabled on your browser. I disabled Greasemonkey to check this, and the extension does not show social analytics when it is disabled.

    If you are still having issues with this, I’d suggest leaving a comment for the developer at the linke I provided earlier.

    Best, Debra

    [Reply]

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Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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