There is a scientific method that can be applied to monitoring social media. Businesses must first learn about their efforts and then fine tune them to prove their time and money is well spent.

Determining how much of an investment social media is worth is a topic that comes up again and again. I wrote recently about how, in my view, calculating social media ROI is missing much of the point of social media. I realize that not everyone agrees with my opinion that social media is more about engagement, customer service and developing brand loyalty.

I also realize that some people who invest in social media, or who must answer to a CEO or CFO about social media efforts, need certain proof that their time and money are well spent. There are companies that can do this (including Radian 6 and Eloqua), but for those who don’t have access to analytics, beyond what can be gleaned from something like Facebook Insights, YouTube or Twitter’s analytics tool (available to business accounts) I have a challenge for you: try using the scientific method -- or a version of it -- to see first what you can learn about your efforts and then how you might fine tune them.

Here’s my abbreviated version of the scientific method, amended for social media. I think Bill Nye the Science Guy would approve.

1. Establish a Baseline, aka a “Control”

This should be easy. What are your numbers today? How many Likes do you have on Facebook? How many do you average per day and per month? How many followers on Twitter? How many new followers do you average per day versus per month? How many subscribers to your newsletter? How long has it taken you to get to these numbers? How many hours and/or money do you spend on social media? How long did it take you to get to these numbers -- or are you starting from scratch?

Set up a Google Docs spreadsheet or simply jot the numbers down on a piece of paper, and note the date. One of your goals with social media should be to increase daily numbers and reduce the amount of time it takes you to reach specific numbers.

2. Create a Hypothesis


Let’s say your gut feeling is that when you post humorous content you get the best engagement and Likes or followers go up. Your hypothesis would be, “I believe that my audience likes humor.” Or maybe you sense that your audience likes tips or other informational content. In this case your hypothesis would be, “I believe that my audience likes ‘How To’ content.”