Podcast - Measuring Your Social Media Success

In this episode of the Simply Business podcast we’ll be looking at efficient ways of measuring your social media marketing activities.

Social media has transformed the way in which businesses deal with the public. The days of the aloof, faceless corporation are numbered. Today, businesses are expected to have a human side. They are expected to be personable and contactable. Social media has fuelled and enabled this expectation.

There’s no doubt that social media has huge benefits for businesses. These new, personal connections present firms of every size with an exciting new way to connect. But there are also significant problems associated with social media. One of the most important of these is measurement.

Businesses have long struggled with the effective measurement of social media success. Marketing departments and small business owners are used to dealing with ROI. You spend a certain amount, you measure the change in sales, and by comparing the two figures you determine how successful your efforts were. For social media the calculation is more complex. The benefits of social media activity are less tangible, and cannot easily be assigned a sterling value. So how do you measure social media success?

There are a few obvious places to start. Many businesses choose, for example, to set themselves goals related to the number of followers or fans they have on specific platforms. This is one simple way of measuring your reach. Clearly, the more people you are connecting with the better, and this is definitely a metric to which you should pay attention. But it is important to remember that not all followers are born equal.

Particularly on Twitter, you should consider the relative value of each of your followers. Influence is key. It is obviously much better to have a thousand followers than a hundred, but you should also be looking at who those followers are. For example, if you want to become influential in the widget business it is likely to be more beneficial to you to be followed by 500 other influential widget industry players than it is to be followed by 1,000 from other businesses.

There are a few tools to help you measure your influence on Twitter. Of these Klout is the best known. This free service gives you a score based on a number of metrics including reach, amplification, and impact. While it may not be the most comprehensive tool available, Klout can be a useful way of checking that your influence is increasing.

But there are other metrics that you might want to look at. Interaction is another key part of a successful social media strategy, and you should therefore keep track of how many comments, replies, and retweets you secure. A good general rule of thumb is the higher the level of interaction, the more engaging your content.

This might all sound a bit airy, particularly if you are used to more conventional marketing methods. While it is certainly more difficult to put a set value figure on social media activities, if you are selling something you still need to understand what impact social media is having on your sales volumes. Keep track of the amount of traffic driven by Twitter and Facebook, using your web analytics package, to help you determine how many referrals are being generated. You should also keep an eye on conversions. Did sales increase during a period of concerted social media activity?

Finally, it’s vital to remember that simply measuring these metrics is not enough. A snapshot of data, while useful, won’t help you improve. You need to make sure that you keep track of the changes in those metrics, and that you judge your progress against a set of benchmarks. By regularly checking these numbers you can determine which of your activities are effective, and which can be dispensed with.

In the next episode of the Simply Business podcast we’ll be looking at some of the key tools you can use to help drive social media success.