Social media marketing success is not achieved overnight and success needs to be defined by clear, measurable goals.
A problem with social media measurement is the rate at which the medium is evolving – there are new sites appearing constantly and new uses for well-established social media sites. As new sites manifest and new uses for long-time social media favourites are discovered, more and more data is made available to marketers. This massive amount of data that is available is a problem because most of it is fairly useless and, in the worst case scenario, it is misleading.
The biggest challenge faced by social media marketers is to effectively sort through the mounds of data available.
It’s easy to be tempted by the metrics that are easy to track – followers, friends, fans, subscribers, blog posts and so on. You cannot put too much attention on these and other ridiculous metrics as the follower to following ration on Twitter. Tweeting, posting and publishing are merely the early steps in the social media marketing process – you need to measure what happens after you take these early steps.
Here are nine metrics you need to measure your brand’s social media marketing success.
#1 – Conversation rate
Too many companies and brands shout at their followers. What I mean is they treat the a medium, like Twitter, like they would treat the medium of television – shouting at people without a specific, tailored measure will not help you achieve online success. Social media, unlike television, gives you real time feedback that will tell you whether your activity is resonating with your followers.
The easiest way to measure the degree to which a post resonates with your audience is to measure the number of replies or comments each post generates – we’ll call this the conversation rate. Your conversation rate will only be high when you have a thorough understanding of your audience and a well-defined brand. In other words, you can’t manipulate this metric, it will force you to do the right thing.
#2 – Referring traffic
Your website is the online base to which your social media accounts direct Internet traffic and potential customers.
Like traditional marketing, there is also a social media marketing mix. Your social media marketing mix needs to consider the value of the various satellite accounts – blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, and the list goes on. Monitoring the amount of traffic sent to your website from your satellite accounts will help you understand what social media channels are the most valuable.
#3 – Total reach
Tracking your total network is important because it will help you judge if you are adding value in the social space. At the most basic level, a larger reach will be necessary to increase the potential spread of your content.
#4 – Amplification rate
A major benefit of social media is not only your personal network, but your secondary network – your connection’s connections. Your amplification rate is the rate at which your followers share your content with their personal network. It’s basic to measure –the number of shares on Facebook and GooglePlus, the number of times the “share” buttons are used on your blog posts and YouTube videos, and the number of times your tweets are retweeted.
Measuring shares will help hone your social media marketing efforts. When you see a post that is widely shared, take note of the time of day, the topic, and other such data that will help you understand what made that particular post popular.
#5 – Rate of applause
A rousing standing ovation at the end of a speech is the sign of a job well done. You can receive a social media standing ovation and you can also measure it.
If people are applauding your efforts on Twitter through clicking on links in tweets, on Facebook when someone likes one of your updates, on GooglePlus when they +1 an entry, and a blog post by the number of +1s, tweets and likes it receives.
When someone applauds your efforts they are noting your work in a way that their person network will see. When someone gives you a +1 through GooglePlus, their endorsement may even show up in search engine results. This is why it’s to know what your network likes and what they don’t like.
#6 – Quality of content
Content is what fuels your social media efforts.
The conversation rate and the share rate will help you gauge the quality of your content, you can also us Google Analytics data to just the quality of the content.
When you post a new piece of content, check your unique page views, time on page, and total pages viewed metrics. If these measures are going up you know your reach is growing, the quality of your content is high, and people are coming to you for data.
#7 – Conversation share
Anyone who made it through a first year marketing class in college knows about market share. Conversation share is an evolution of this concept. Conversation share measures the number of conversations about your brand and compares that to the conversations had about your competitors in that market. If you are noticing a loss of conversation share, you need to correct a problem (keep it up if you are gaining conversation share).
#8 – Sentiment
I hesitate offering sentiment as a metric because people, understandably, rely on technology to track metrics. While technology is perfectly capable of tracking most metrics, social media marketing success greatly depends on the sentiment expressed by your audience. In order to accurately measure sentiment, you need to do so manually.
It is a labour intensive process that involves sorting through your posts and determining whether the feedback received is positive or negative. Of course, you need to maintain a net positive score and, ideally, the growth of positive sentiment will surpass the growth of negative sentiment.
#9 – Economic value
Most businesses and brands are on social media to generate leads, sales, and revenue – you need to measure your efforts in light of these goals. All previous metrics are important, but none will serve as valuable as this metric to convince your company’s executives to continue investing in social media marketing.
You can begin by tracking the number of conversions achieved by visitors who were referred to your site from a blog or social network. A conversion can be defined in many ways; however, ultimately you need to be able to track the number of referred website visitors that become clients or customers. Finally, economic value through social media not only comes from sales, but from cost savings through decreased call centre usage, better customer relationship management and easier dispute resolution – these values need to be quantified.
As budgets are tightened and more return on investment is demanded, verifying and quantifying the value of social media marketing efforts becomes ever more important. Measuring and tracking these nine metrics will help you judge and track your social media marketing success – verifying social media’s worth to your company.