Generating social media buzz is a great way to create more exposure and excitement for your brand.

When most brands put together a plan to create social media buzz, it revolves around the posts they are publishing rather than the posts that others are publishing about the brand.

To really measure your brand’s influence, you need to look beyond your own social media buzz metrics. You also need to look at posts that are being made about your brand and the engagement those posts are getting.

Comparing Metrics

You need only look at the 2016 presidential election to understand why it’s important to look at the right social metrics.

When asked about the buzz for their candidates, campaign workers attending an event at the Microsoft Innovation Center talked all about the number of likes they were getting, the number of shares and retweets, and other signs of engagement.

However, none of them talked about measuring the reach of posts shared by others about their candidates.

When the numbers were analyzed, researchers found that the buzz generated by the politicians’ own social media posts accounted for only about 10 percent of the buzz generated by the posts shared by other businesses, advocacy groups and users.

If the numbers are the same for your business, that’s a huge amount of data that is left untapped. Do you know what kind of buzz is being generated about your business?

Looking at the Data

When analyzing your social media buzz, there are a number of metrics you should look at, as well as some that you need but that aren’t yet available.

The easiest way to find out what kind of buzz your brand is getting on Facebook is to look at the “People Talking About” data that the site provides. The feature shows how many likes, comments and shares a page gets over the previous seven days.

You can use this tool to find out what kind of buzz you are getting both on page and off. You can also use it to track what’s happening with your competitors so that you know where you compare.

Previously, you could get even more information from a tool provided by USA Today called the Facebook Barometer. The tool showed you all the data that Facebook offers plus the total number of mentions for a brand across the site. However, the tool is no longer being updated, and no comparable tool has been offered to replace it.

Twitter makes it a little easier to track mentions since most people either tag the user or include a hashtag. You can also search the site by keywords, which will return your brand mentions.

What is missing is a tool that helps you understand not just the mentions you are getting but also the sentiment behind those mentions. In other words, are people talking a lot about your brand because they hate you or because they love you?

The trouble is that there is no easy way to do this. Artificial intelligence just isn’t advanced enough to interpret the comments. Keywords aren’t enough to deliver the answers. How does the computer interpret sarcasm? Or references and inside jokes?

Until the day that our technology is able to scan and interpret these mentions, you’ll have to rely on the hard data that you have available.

You can also appoint monitors who routinely scour social media and join groups and pages to report back on how your brand is being discussed. The strategy won’t give you the full measure of your social media buzz, but it will give you a representative sampling from which to extrapolate how your brand is viewed.

Making the Most of Social Media

The best thing you can do to influence the buzz you get on social media is to create an active presence on these sites and to proactively shape your reputation.

Don’t just post updates passively. Start conversations and then remain an active part of them.

Don’t avoid negative comments either. Engage followers to make up for the issue that caused the complaint and find out how you can avoid future problems. When followers see you handling negative situations well, they will respect you more and think more of your customer service.

Look for other ways to improve engagement, as well, such as hosting contests, posing interesting questions, or highlighting customers themselves. For example, you can highlight customer success stories, share photos of them wearing your products, publicly wish them happy birthday and more.

You can check out the metrics on page to determine how successful you have been, and you can measure your own website metrics, such as increased traffic, time on site, leads and more.

Make tweaks as you need to along the way to increase your buzz and start meeting your goals.