Gray social media and social monitoring tools

Mark Schaefer asked the excellent question on his blog, how do we track, measure, and deal with gray social media? (or any nebulous marketing audience)

His definition of gray social media are interactions that are too small or too disparate to register as “buy now!” signals in most marketing automation software, yet because of offline interactions may be quite meaningful:

I would like to propose today that between dark social media and light social media, there is a third category that is rich in undiscovered marketing opportunity — Gray Social Media. These are the small, still voices who are clearly telling us they’re there, but we can’t detect their quiet signals and capture the data. – Mark W. Schaefer

How do we detect gray social media?

One possible answer is in meta-data. For example, we may be able to identify untracked influencers by who they influence in turn. Take Dawn Gartin, a follower of Mark’s, as mapped below with the orange arrow (Mark is the pink arrow):


Dawn has conversed very briefly with Mark and shared one of his links. It’s not a strong relationship, but it’s a relationship nonetheless. Further, Dawn can activate several other nodes in Mark’s network who can spread the word, such as Eric T. Tung and Laura Pence (@socialsavvygeek).

This is an example of the gray social network. We can find it by looking for those people who appear as “weak” interactions, but still activate other nodes in the network.

How else might you find these gray social networks? Look off of social media. Look to things like the Moz SEO suite to identify new, fresh links that slip in under the radar. Here are a few new links to Mark’s website recently:


Above, we have a Dutch blog on social media strategy linking to Mark as a resource, followed by a podcast, and then further down, a book review of Mark’s Social Media Explained book. How many of these people triggered a monitoring system to notify Mark? I don’t know for sure, but I’d wager that none did, because Mark is a super nice guy who ALWAYS goes out of his way to thank you if he sees it, and it’s clear he didn’t see this update:


Laura Sandonato’s updates were missed by monitoring systems. The Dutch blog above might be ushering Mark into a new market, but because of language differences, become gray social media. The podcast above likely contains references to Mark in the show as well as in the show notes. All of this is gray.

My take on Mark’s theory about gray social media: Gray social media exists inversely proportional to the capabilities of your monitoring and metrics systems. The more resources you’ve devoted to stringent monitoring, the less stuff will fall through the cracks.

The followup question is: how much gray social media can your brand tolerate before its business impact becomes important enough for you to track it?

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How to replace Twitter’s website analytics with Google Analytics

Remember when Twitter rolled out website analytics? It was a wonderful secret just between us marketers. Well, the developers giveth and the developers taketh away. Twitter’s website analytics is no more:


So how do you replace this? How will you figure out if Twitter is is delivering website performance to you, if you’d become accustomed to measuring your tweets with the built-in tool?

Google Analytics is your answer. Here’s how to set it up. First, open your Google Analytics profile.

Audience_Overview_-_Google_Analytics 2.jpg

Second, start a new custom segment, shown above.

Next, create a Traffic Sources match for Twitter. I like to measure both the website as well as links from Twitter’s link shortener, so that I capture clicks from the mobile app and third party apps. Here’s the difference:

Audience_Overview_-_Google_Analytics 3.jpg
Above, alone.

Audience_Overview_-_Google_Analytics 4.jpg
Above, and the link shortener

Name your segment something obvious, like Twitter traffic.


Hit the blue Save button, and you will see the traffic you get from Twitter to your website (above).

Remember that setting this measurement up only measures the last third of our social media measurement model:

taken from my new book, Marketing Blue Belt

We still need to measure audience growth and engagement. Measuring website traffic from a social media source isn’t enough to achieve the results you’re looking for.

Nonetheless, if you relied upon Twitter’s website analytics, you’ve got a replacement in Google Analytics. Give it a try!

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Which social network is right for you?

My friend and colleague Chris Brogan posed the question: “Which social network is right for you?”.

Our answers differ because our perspectives differ. My perspective is powered by data and analytics. In social media, three categories of metrics are important:


taken from my new book, Marketing Blue Belt

The social network that’s right for you depends on what your goals are. Followers, fans, and Likes are part of audience growth. That’s a valid beginning goal, because if you have no one to talk to, you have nothing to measure. Which social network is most efficient for growing audience for your business? When I look at Facebook and Twitter over the last 90 days, Twitter by far is the easier network for me to gain new audiences.


Facebook growth in 90 days: 60 people


Twitter growth in 90 days: 1436 people

Engagement is an important metric for building rapport with your audience. If no one’s talking to you, no one’s thinking about you. How much engagement are you getting on each social network? When I look at Facebook and Twitter in the last 28 days, Facebook gets a higher percentage of people to pay attention, while Twitter gets me in front of more people.

Christopher_S__Penn 2.jpg

Facebook organic reach, 28 days: 92/1,480, or 6.2%


Twitter organic reach, 28 days: 879/79,920, or 1.1%

Finally, traffic down-funnel shows how your audience and engagement turn into business impact. Even an offline, brick-and-mortar store should still be able to attract people to your website. They may just use the website for driving directions, but that interaction still matters. Which network brings people to my most important digital property?


Facebook traffic on-site: 3.55% of all traffic

Twitter traffic on-site: 10.01% of all traffic

Which network is the best for me? My goals are to get people on-site to read, subscribe, and perhaps even buy a book. Traffic down-funnel matters most to me, and that means I’ll continue to focus on Twitter for now.

These numbers aren’t fixed in stone. Re-evaluate them every quarter or every month to see how they change over time. Today’s hot social network may be tomorrow’s MySpace!

Which social network is right for you? The network that’s most aligned to your goals. Do your homework, then decide.

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