Knowing how to measure your social business strategy initiatives is one of the basic fundamentals that a social media professional must know. When I started my online business, I honestly didn’t have a clue on where to start when it came to social media. I did what a lot of people do which was to just dive right in and start figuring it out. At the time, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ had not come into the picture, and everyone was just now slowly migrating from Friendster to Myspace. We now have businesses who turn to social media as their answer to their advertising and marketing needs. If you are not measuring your social media efforts then you are not taking it seriously. For this topic, I will try to explain what to measure as well as how to measure it. There are thousands of social media professionals who are giving away free helpful advice based on their experiences learned over the years. I’m by no means an end all approach, but I will contribute my 2 cents.
One of the obstacles that I encountered getting into social media is not knowing what to measure. If you are a new business beginning to get serious with social media there are a lot of things that you have to take into consideration. Realizing the differences between a casual and a social media expert is one of the steps. When I first started, I didn’t measure a single thing and I wished I did. I had the mentality that since you don’t have any followers why should you track anything? I thought that because I had no followers I already knew what the numbers would be…..they would all be zero. The first few weeks seemed an eternity until I got a few people that followed. Its easy to track things manually when you have maybe 15 people at the most, however, as months pass you get dozens of followers a week. Before you know it, you have a couple hundred followers and you’re now interested in tracking your performance. The catch is, I wished I had been tracking all along so I could have had data to gauge my performance.
The real power in measuring your performance is not what it tells you now, but deciphering what it brings in the future.
Determine your KPIs
KPIs, otherwise known as Key Performance Indicators, is simply a set of metrics to determine performance. If you are already tracking and measuring a few of these KPIs you are in good shape. I tried to compile my top10 KPIs that I can think of focusing on general KPIs that were not specific to a social network. Depending on how specific you want to drill down and track your efficiency, pick and choose KPIs that you and your boss think are relevant.
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. – Albert Einstein
Record what your current numbers look like now, and come back to add to your document as each month progresses. Set a set of deadlines and standards to review your performance with key stakeholders of the company to stay in tune with your customers and your market.
- Number of Followers
- Number of Replies
- Number of Mentions
- CTR, CPA
- Number of Referral Traffic
- Number of Shares, Posts
- Number of Subscriptions
- Conversion Rate
- Time Spent on Page
- Bounce Rate
Use helpful Social Media Monitoring Tools
Check out this comprehensive list of both free and paid social monitoring tools that I found. Be cautious, there are a lot of companies who are now figuring out that there is money to be made in social media monitoring. You will quickly see that there are some good services, but none of them has quite gotten the formula down just right yet. Before you spend a single dime on a tool, please do your research and focus on the feature set that the tool provides that best aligns with your social media efforts.
Extracting Value, Concerns, & ROI
The inability to measure your marketing and advertising efforts is ancient history. Businesses only care about one thing and that is money. In the end, it all boils down to a number game and that’s just not how it completely works….yet. The best way to tackle social media is for businesses who approach it in an experimental way. I hear concerns from businesses who have been used to their strategy of spending traditional marketing dollars. They try to apply the old traditional metrics to this new social media way in which even the professionals are having a hard time figuring out. Aside from CTR and CPA metrics, the concerns that plague decision makers is the metrics that seemingly provides zero dollars to the bottom line.
Imagine that the company blog serves as a corporate news feed attracting loads of positive media coverage. The company twitter account humanizes your company doubling as a customer service hub. The company facebook page presents itself as an engagement platform for customers while providing exclusive insider tips and discounts building hype and buzz. Your social media efforts increases web traffic ten fold, you accrue hundreds of likes each week, and dozens of people mention you on twitter every hour, but when the head honcho comes down and asks you what’s the ROI(return on investment) you draw a blank.
Social media is quite an eclectic way of doing business in that it requires the person managing social media to take a step back to review the efforts in a more top level way. What does a thousand likes on facebook mean? What does a thousand retweets on twitter mean? Why do these metrics matter? I don’t think the professionals really have an concrete answer for that….yet, however, what we can leverage is what the sales looked like before social media, and what do they look like now. We can take the before and after sales numbers and decipher what happened in between those two metrics. Eventually, you can come up with a customized formula to extract the value that these specific metrics provided for your business.