One of the things I love about social media is it’s SO easy to measure! It’s so easy to set benchmarks and goals and then you can get as much information as you like (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually) to watch you get closer and closer to your goals.

Many people are intimidated by setting goals that are measurable, especially from a communication standpoint. But social media allows you to do it so easily and I’m going to give you some free tools to do just that.

* Use Twitter Grader to determine where your Twitter account is right now (most people begin in the 50th percentile) and set goals for increasing the number.  If you tweet consistently and if you engage and connect daily, it takes six or seven months to get to, and maintain, a grade of 100 percent. Keep that in mind as you set your Twitter grade goal.

* Use to quickly check your popularity on bookmark sites (such as Digg or Delicious), the ranking on the search engines, and through number of subscribers.  For instance, take the first listing, which is Google PageRank. You want that number to be a one by the time all is said and done. The way you will set your metric is determine how long it will take you to go from where you are now to a number one.

* Darren Williger just introduced me to TwitterAnalyzer, which I LOVE! I love pretty graphs and charts and this fulfills that need for me. It gives you analytics for pretty much everything, including tweets, chats, popularity, reach, subjects, friends, mentions, and groups. Use this to benchmark where you are right now and then build metrics from there.

* If one of your goals is to increase your connections through  new followers each day (without the use of an auto-follow app), then Twitterholic is a great place to start. It crawls your stats for you once  a day (but you have to go there daily and click the “crawl my stats” button in order to make that happen) and it tells you how many followers you started with and shows a growth graph.

* Socialmeter scans the major social sites to analyze a Web site’s or blog’s social popularity. It gives you a score, which becomes your benchmark, and you can set goals to increase it from there. It also shows you which site(s) link to your Web site or blog the most and you can use that data to benchmarch your growth on additional sites.

* siteVOLUME allows you to enter keywords to see how many times they appear on Digg, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and Flickr. I like this site because you can enter your keywords against your competition to see where you benchmark against them.

* Compete is a great site to analyze your Web site or blog against your competition. It’s a great tool to overlay on your Google analytics to determine unique visitors, change in traffic from previous months, search terms used to find you, top referral sites, and it does the same for your competition.

web-site-grader1 * Web site grader is a free SEO tool that    measures the marketing effectiveness of your Web site or blog. The site gives you a score, plus a ton of great information on how to increase your percentage. This is a great way to determine what your benchmark is now and what you need to do in order to get a 100 percent score. Plus you can compare it with your competitor’s sites, which is always fun!

Using these eight sites to determine your benchmarks today will help you create your goals for one month, two months, three months, six months, and 12 months. You can check back daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Figure out what your goals are and how often to measure, set up your dashboard, and have at it!

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich