#BartlettMetrics for August

Yesterday, I updated the #BartlettMetrics data I compile at/near the beginning of each month of follower statistics for the seven state universities in the Minnesota Colleges and Universities system.

I first started gathering this data back in August of 2011, and have been diligent about updating it monthly for about the last year and a half. I know all of the arguments against using follower volumes as a true measure of social media influence, but it’s an easy statistic to measure and there are trends in the numbers that are interesting to watch.

But it doesn’t tell the whole story. I’ve wanted to find some way to start measuring some actual engagement numbers — likes/comments/shares/etc. on Facebook and favorites/retweets/@-mentions on Twitter, etc. Part of the reason I haven’t started doing this is simply that I haven’t put the effort into finding tools to do it. There are plenty of excellent things out in the world to measure your own social media efforts – including things like Sprout Social and Crowdbooster, both of which I have in my toolbox for BSU – but the things for measuring the efforts of others have always felt less robust.

Sprout Social will do some basic comparisons of competitors’ Twitter accounts, but it only has four data points — percentage of conversations between new/existing contacts, a percentage measure of “influence” that it doesn’t really explain, raw number of mentions (and no explanation for what constitutes a “mention”) and number of followers gained. You can export a daily comparison of mentions, which is getting closer but not without more information about what constitutes a mention. And it does nothing for Facebook comparisons.

Crowdbooster provides nothing like this at all.

So, on to other resources.

Simply Measured has some neat free tools, but they only measure in two-week increments backward from the day you run the reports; so assembling a month’s worth of data would have to mean that I’d need to schedule specific times to generate these reports every two weeks so I could have four weeks of data — and I’d never be able to do comparisons sortof-monthly as I do with the follower stats. Paying for Simply Measured isn’t an option; its “cheap” tier is $500 a month. I wish this would work, because SM’s Facebook engagement comparison is pretty damn cool.

HootSuite has some reports that look like they may get to the neighborhood of what I’m looking for, but they’re teased in the free version and then paywalled behind either their pro or enterprise pay levels. Awesomely, there’s of course no pricing information for the enterprise level – and I’m not interested in more sales calls.

There are other things that I’ve run across that I won’t even mention, because they don’t do what I want them to do either. All of this screams “learn to code, learn the Facebook and Twitter APIs and just build something.” It’s probably getting to the point that I’ll feel like I need to do just that.

Andy Bartlett

By day, I am the executive director of communications and marketing at Bemidji State University. The rest of the time, I'm a husband, father of three, and proponent of super heroes, lasers, space ships and explosions.

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