Track Successes and Failures

September 6, 2012

A big part of ongoing social media success is to acknowledge and keep track of your successes and failures. When you publish a piece of content that gets a positive - or negative - reaction, many more comments than usual, or more shares than you've gotten before, make sure to take a screenshot, favorite positive tweets, save the embed code, etc. Track what happens so you can go back and see what works and what doesn't so you can improve your processes and tactics as you move forward with your social media strategy.

Four tools: 

  • Storify. Make a digital newspaper of all the social activity around an event or news item. Read my post on how to make a Storify story.  Example: view highlights of social media activity from MIT Commencement 2012.
  • IFTTTArchive Facebook photos you're tagged in or all participants/tweets using a hashtag. Archiving content allows you to go back and measure your success.
  • Hashtracking. When we have an event using a hashtag, I'll often tweet @hashtracking and ask if they're up for creating a transcript for us. They're always cheerful and ready to track all tweets that use a specific hashtag.
  • Google Analytics. In the visitors overview, you can double click on a point in the line plot and enter a note (160 characters or less). If a spike in visitors to a site is due to social media tactics, I make a note in the analytics. When I pull reports I want to remember what I did and its impact.

Thoughts on success and failure: 

One day you might give a presentation to the dean about your efforts and you will wish you had a record of the great work you're doing. Keeping track of success and how you achieved it is as important as the success itself. On the other side, if you work with social media you will also experience failure because everything is more immediate and personal on social networks. The most successful bloggers, tweeters, etc. have experienced failure. Baratunde Thurston made a mistake on Twitter that "almost killed" The Onion. 

Failure is a part of success, not separate from it.

Learn from it. Social media communicators try experiments (such as A/B testing) with the expectation that some experiments will succeed and some will fail. Track the failure, figure out what happened, and keep the data as a case study.

What tools do you use to help you keep track of both successes and failures in social media?

Posted By
Stephanie Hatch Leishman

Stephanie Hatch Leishman

Former MIT Social Media Strategist

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