When developing a Social Media Strategy, it's absolutely critical to know a few things before you begin:
Who Are You Talking To?
What Are You Trying to Say to Them?
What Do You Want Them to Do?
Before you try to answer any of these questions, think about where you're getting you data from. Are you out there listening to your audience, measuring your market and do you know how your strategy is supporting your business objectives? To do this, you must measure twice, so you only have to post once.
There are any number of free and proprietary social listening and measuring tools. They change so quickly that any list will almost immediately become obsolete the moment I hit "publish" on this article. Here are a few of the tools I use to track influence, sentiment, response and engagement:
SocialMention - Social Mention tracks your keywords (company name, personal name, tagline) across the social internet. It tracks passion, sentiment, strength and reach, which gives you a good idea of what kinds of responses you're getting and from whom.
Klout - According to their description, Klout measures the likelihood of response to you. Higher scores mean that any given post/status will engender response, sharing or action. Unfortunately, many people are using Klout scores as a measure of expertise or elite status. Avoid this, as it indicates a lack of understanding about Klout. Klout has also spawned what Animenewsdotbiz has coined as "Credibility hobo." This would be asking users for shares, +1 on Google and other assistance for upping your score. "Brother can you spare a +K?"
Topsy will give you a overall picture of your activity online. It's doesn't dig deep into analysis, but if you want to see a quick overview of your activity - and any activity engendered by it - Topsy is a good tool.
And as I posted previously, I'm finding Crowdbooster to be a very useful tool to get a visual impression of the popularity and response to any given post.
Of course, any savvy company should have a Google Alert and Twitter Search set up to see what people are saying about them.
Now that you know who is listening to you, acting on your links, sharing and responding, and what they are saying about you, you can answer the above questions appropriately. You will know who you are talking to, when they respond, and to what. You can see what language works and which kinds of posts get the most response on your platforms.
Listen and measure before you post for the most effective use of Social Media.