Social media is being used increasingly to promote brands and drive visitors to web properties, but how can you be sure your strategy is working? And what constitutes success?
As with any form of marketing, Social Media has a cost that needs to be justified. As most networks allow free access, much of this cost is in the time required to maintain your Social Media presence through posting timely messages as well as sticky content to engage users.
With an attributed cost, there is a need to measure the benefits and this can vary; from revenue directly attributable to Social Media, through to more nebulous measurements such as the promotion of a brand or message. Consider the following, listed in descending order of measurability :
- direct clicks through to your web site from the social sites
- comments / retweets / forwarding of your posts
- clicks through to links within your posts.
- mentions of your company within posts
- the social footprint of your company
Onsite: The first part is relatively straightforward. You should already have a statistics program such as Google Analytics installed on your web property. Within these tools there will be a separate section for Social Media, or within the referrers to your site you will be able to search for Twitter, Facebook etc.
On Social Properties. Within each social site you will be able to access statistics on the number of followers, the number of re-posts, the number of mentions, the number of likes. Each of these should show strong gains during a sustained social promotion campaign.
External Links. When posting links from around the web, or from your own sites, if you use a link abbreviator tool such as goo.gl you will be able to access statistics such as the number of clicks and the geographical location.
How to measure your social footprint
At first this might seem deceptively easy. Take Twitter for instance, the greater the number of ‘followers’ you have, the bigger your audience for reading your tweets. However, the absolute number is not always as good an indicator as the engagement of the audience. Each Social Network is populated by a large proportion of automated followers, zombie followers and extreme followers. These accounts will not read your posts and you will find many examples of buying folllowers, which aside from vanity measurements, hold no real value.
It is a far better measure to gauge the level of engagement with your posts.
Engaging your audience
The engagement with your posts by users demonstrates real understanding of your messages and the promotion you are carrying out. Through a combination of the direct measurements previously mentioned and real-world understanding of the types of comments you receive you will get a far better idea of how well your campaign is working.
A good way of identifying engagement is running a poll or question, which for added impact could be a competition. This kind of promotion will only really be addressed by followers who are interested in your brand or message.
In summary, there are many different ways of measuring success. A true measure involves understanding not only the headline figures, but also digging into the details and above all placing importance on the level of engagement. Given a choice between 10,000 followers with minimal interaction or 1,000 followers with active levels of engagement it should be obvious which is the most desirable.