How do you measure social media?

The question I am increasingly asked is how do you measure social media and what is its ROI?  Given the economy there has been an increased demand for accountability and measurement.  The question is how do you apply this to a channel that is about brand awareness? 

There is the question of source material.  In many cases this translates into what web sites do you follow?

  1. Your company web site(s)
  2. Social media web sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
  3. Individuals’ personal blogs

What metrics do you measure?  Below are just some ideas.

  1. Number of tweets
  2. Number and ratio of positive comments
  3. Number Facebook fans and Twitter followers
  4. Links to personal sites that fans and customers have added to their web sites and blogs
  5. Level of engagement with your company web site

Lastly, how do you establish causality?  It is difficult to determine if events in the social space are affecting purchasing behavior in the bricks and mortar space.  As my Statistics Professor said so often, “correlation does not mean causation”.