Defining & Measuring Social Media Success: IL2008

by: Jeff Wisniewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh

Many libraries have presence in social media, but struggling with assessing if it is worth the effort, what is the ROI?

Game Plan/Outline of the Session:
Why be social?
Developing a social media plan
Assessing social media success

Why be Social (Bad Reasons)
Because Oprah said we should
cause everyone is doing it
cause kids think it’s cool

Better Reasons:
Innovative ways to connect with users we may never see face to face
To encourage, promote, innovate, learn and adapt
Markets our services–people like to read reviews from people like themselves
Improve Customer Service
Discover and deliver what users want
Your Google page rank is influenced by it
People are anxious to interact with you online 85% of Americans using social media think companies should have an active presence in social media

Study of Facebook from the UK
Indicates that students use Facebook to connect and talk about academics, could use in teaching and learning

Developing a social media plan
1. Listen: ask yourself–is there a conversation about your library right now? If so, what is being said?
2. Prepare: Define a strategy, define goals (what exactly do you want to accomplish?), pick a platform or two, right platform depends on your goals Social Media at Sun Microsystems: How to Pick a Platform
3. Engage: Start blogging, etc., remember that social media is reciprocal, upload images to flickr, building community on Twitter, etc. just start getting out there
4. Measure: Becoming active in social media is the easy part, assessment is harder.

Need to know your ROI in order to justify using social media
You are not measuring: friendship, happiness, karma, enlightenment, etc.
You do need: quantitative and qualitative metrics

What are you measuring?
The Trinity Approach (Vinash Kaushik
Quantitative: number of blog posts (Boyd’s Conversation Index: take number of posts divided by comments and trackbacks; result should be less than 1), number of facebook friends, views/visits
Have a tangible goal so you can measure it: ex higher satisfaction, fewer desk calls, etc.
Listen, Engage, Converse, take action (cyclical in nature), be authentic in interactions, don’t sound all markety
Metric: take comments and break them down into stars (positive), scars (negative), or neutral and can produce a chart and compare how you are doing
Five things to get started:
1. monitor general search engine results–focus on Google because Google does social media results
2. monitor social media search engine results (like Technorati,, Twitter)
3. create alerts (use Google alerts, figure out how people get to your library, choose comprehensive results setting)
4. analytics: Google and Clicky Web Analytics (
5. Assess nature and sentiment of the activity (deep commenting vs. superficial, users staying vs. bouncing quickly, repeat commenters vs. drive bys)

Take Home Message:
Social media creates a great opportunity for the library to engage more fully with people, but you need to remember to assess and measure the impact of your engagement in social media.