Measuring Influence Online: HootSuite

When we teach our course, we talk about the ROI from social media not in terms of Return on Investment but Return on Influence.

What does that mean, though? How do we measure influence? Is it in the number of Facebook fans we have, Twitter followers we pick up? Jeff Turner wrote a great post about numbers that mean something last year – I’d like to look into just one of the ways our influence can be measured online.

Twitter, as much as it’s about conversation and engagement and listening and relationships is also about sharing information. The use of shortened link services like and tinyurl are now standard. Services like Twitterfeed actually tell you how many people click on the links it sends, which is helpful for determining which content is connecting with people. HootSuite has taken this a step further in my opinion. Every link you shorten with HootSuite’s “Owl.Ly” service is tracked, generating reports telling you which links were most popular.

They also have a great “Hootlet” bookmark that lets you turn any page/article into an Owl.Ly link. You can edit the message or stick with the default, which simply displays the title of the page.

For those of you out there using Twitter as a business tool, here are some honest-to-goodness metrics for you. I’ll be the first to say that it’s about relationships and listening and engaging, but why not use this type of data to refine the value you add? You can see what’s getting clicks, which can tell you a number of things:


  • Optimal times to post
  • Subjects of Interest
  • Sites that people find useful/interesting


While you may not measure dollars in this space, there are measurable results, and furthermore understanding the correlation between metrics and sales (a similar discussion about adwords was posted here – I think the general principle applies). The point is, track your clicks. Analyze them so you can understand your community a little better. Not everything in a relationship can (or should) be measured, but the things we CAN measure, we should.

What measurement tools are YOU using?