These days no inbound marketing strategy is complete without a social media component, that’s a given. However, with the general acceptance of using social media as a marketing strategy, the why is no longer a question, but rather the “how?” With the “how” comes the importance of how to measure and track your social media marketing success.
The correct metric to gauge success isn’t always apparent. While there is some truth to the idea that social media remains too undefined to apply a comprehensive measuring stick, you can still employ a variety of techniques and tools to determine if your social media initiative is producing the results you need.
- Determining goals—Each enterprise has its own expectations. Your business may be young enough that it is only seeking to raise brand awareness, which may be easily measured through “fans” or “likes.” Topsy.com is a simple way to measure brand mentions. If your company is more mature, it may desire more conversions. The major social networks already possess or are rapidly developing metrics that determine how many ad clicks or connections result from your actions on their platforms. With a few simple calculations you can easily determine if your efforts are producing the leads and customers you seek.
- Create a dashboard—This is a basic step that your marketing team is probably already employing, but it bears repeating. A dashboard for your social media sites should probably include the most basic information about social activity including:
- Page views
- Subscribers/ Unsubscribers
- Measure your industry—Maintaining awareness about the size of your community provides insights into whether specific actions taken by your company’s social media marketing efforts are effective. An important tool in monitoring the state of your communities is Sprout Social, one of the more comprehensive social media analytics available. Sprout Social can monitor your brand across a number of platforms and detail how well your latest initiatives are performing.
- Monitor content sharing—Google provides Social plug-in reports, which can detail which of your blogs, videos and photos are being shared through its “+1” and Facebook’s “Like” buttons. This provides a good understanding of what materials your marketing team is producing that is resonating with visitors. From this they can narrow their creation efforts to fuel that desire. You will also learn what sites are picking up your content, which provides more networking opportunities and market segment data.
- Social Media ad metrics—If you are advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn you need to be employing some key metrics that each platform provides. New leads information is probably the most important because it allows you to determine how much each new lead is costing you. If you are generating new content for your Facebook page while running ads, it may not be easy to distinguish between traffic from your fan base and those from ads. In those situations, you may wish to monitor traffic from Facebook between content posts to determine a baseline.
One of the key advantages of actively measuring inbound marketing strategies is the ability to produce accurate ROI numbers. While social media metrics are still maturing, there are plenty of effective measures that can provide a fairly detailed understanding of the efficacy of your social media strategy.