Beth Kanter's session on metrics began with a definition of metrics--the attributes or factors that are important for you to determine results or make improvements. She cited this definition from Jeremiah Owyang (an Forrester analyst and blogger) and went on to say what metrics are not; when we're talking about metrics, we're not talking about a scoreboard or a report card.
Ultimately, metrics don't exist in a vacuum. You need measurement--the process of determining result of strategy--to bring meaning to the metrics and the strategy as a whole.
The most substantive take away from this session is that measuring social media metrics is not like Martha Stewart; metrics for social media are not and can not be perfect. So you have to get comfortable with ambiguity and using the numbers you can get.
That being said, what are the basics?
Time on site
Bounce rate (only view single page before leaving site)
Traffic and content
Entry and exit pages
Search engine entry
How do these become meaningful?
In the session, Beth referred to 5 Rays from Scoble's white board. Those rays are themes to take into consideration for measuring social media success. Beneath each ray are some general ideas of how to measure it:
Length of stay
Shape of conversation (qualitative analysis)
Post to comment ratio
Conversation index-> posts / trackback + comments
RSS subscribers (feedburner, et al)
Memes and their intensity over time
Digg, Techmeme, Technorati
Linked to goals
*There are plenty of metrics tools available--webtrends, google analytics, clickstream, feedburner, typepad. That could be another post in and of itself...
Final points: Conclusion
Don't be use metrics as therapy. Don't be a metrics detective.
Do link metrics to goals, strategy and decisions.
I wish it could be more precise! But social media is like life--a little vague at times...