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What's a social mention?

Ray Dearborn's picture
on March 6, 2013 - 1:44pm

Our primary metric for understanding the conversations we analyze, monitor and campaign in is what we refer to as a “social mention” (or “social item”). Social mentions are what we count when we do Big Listening to understand the volume of conversations, and they're what we count when we evaluate the success of our attention campaigns

Upwell defines a social mention as the text inclusion of a monitored keyword in a post on a social media platform like Twitter, Facebook, a blog, mainstream news with an RSS feed, a forum/board, YouTube or Pinterest. Social mentions are online acts of self-expression in which individuals, organizations and other entities invest (at least) a small amount of social capital.

Social mentions have more in common with the metric of media hits than they do with the more common, older PR and marketing metric of impressions. Upwell focuses on counting and analyzing social mentions (rather than impressions or online mentions) because we believe that the number of people who choose to take an action to create or share content is a better indicator of engagement than the number of people who have simply seen (or could have seen) that content.

It is worth noting that, while it is theoretically possible to accurately count every single social mention on a topic, Upwell’s Big Listening methodology focuses on characterizing conversations just thoroughly enough to campaign successfully within them.

Furthermore, Upwell believes that social mentions are a better leading indicator of willingness to take action for the oceans than other communications metrics. This is because social mentions represent actions, the choice of an individual to risk a small amount of social capital by associating their online identity with a piece of online content. In aggregate, the volume of social mentions not only represents the amount of attention being paid to a topic, but a forecast of potential campaign success. For this reason, generating social mentions is the primary goal of our attention campaigns

The strength of a community, by our standards, is measured not by its size, but rather by its engagement level. For example, if one tweet has 12,000 impressions (the number of people who follow the account that posted the tweet), we count the tweet the same way that we would count a tweet with 200 impressions. If a person or organization is network-oriented, it would follow that their content would lead to more retweets, replies and/or mentions. If a tweet goes out to 12,000 followers but gets zero retweets, it is less of an indicator of willingness to take action than a tweet that goes out to 200 followers and gets 10 retweets.

What About “Likes”?

Likes, loves, and faves (different terminology for different social media platforms) are in a middle ground. While they are not social mentions (as people are not creating new content), they are also not as passive as views or impressions. While likes, loves, and faves are not counted by Radian6, Upwell does measure them, when possible. However, for the purposes of our campaign reporting, we omit these metrics since they constitute only minimal public engagement and can require laborious, resource- intensive manual calculation (since we often don't own the properties on which our content and campaigns are shared).

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