According to a 2014 Media Bistro infographic, Facebook has over one billion users, there are 5,700 tweets through Twitter every second and Google + is gaining nearly a million users every day.
Yes, social media is here to stay. Because of the popularity of these services, more and more businesses want to get in on the action and take advantage of the marketing opportunities offered. However, those that want to get the most they can from their social media marketing attempts know that it is important to observe what type of affect social media marketing has—that’s the only way to identify if the program is working well. However, it is not as simple as looking at how many followers you have on one social network or the other. Many different things can mean success, or failure, when it comes to social media.
While every organization will have different guidelines for what spells success in social media, these five metrics are ones that should be observed for every social marketing plan. Some professionals swear by one metric or the other—claiming that this one or that one is the most important. However, by observing multiple metrics, you can avoid losing track of the big picture—your bottom line.
For those who are just beginning to utilize social media, traffic would seem to be the most important thing to look at to determine success. While traffic is very important—it is not everything. It is important not to let the relatively firm numbers of social media traffic weigh you down. Some of the most successful traffic-wise social media platforms could actually be losing money along the way.
Traffic can mean more than just how many people are visiting your social media profiles. Traffic can also refer to how many webpage visits are generated by social media. So, make certain you are comparing apples to apples in this case. You may have a profile that is getting plenty of hits, but if you are using social media to drive traffic to another webpage, your traffic numbers are not as high as you may think they are. The best traffic is organic traffic as this will grow slowly, over time and maintain its numbers. It is very possible to artificially inflate your traffic by investing in PPC advertising, but it may not pay off in the long run like other forms of marketing will.
Luckily, measuring traffic is very easy for most social media platforms. These numbers are often readily available within the websites themselves. Spend some time looking over the numbers available to you and determine if your traffic is at a level that makes you comfortable. Then, look a little deeper into the numbers and see where they are coming from and where they are going—this can give you a much better idea of the impact traffic has on your social media, and general marketing, success.
More important than traffic, engagement shows what your visitors are doing once they click through to your page. Engagement shows active participation on your website. For instance, on Facebook, engagement may be measured in terms of likes, shares and comments. On Twitter it shows up in terms of retweets, mentions and direct messages. Each social media site is different, but each one provides a way for your visitors to engage with you and your business.
Engagement is the key driver in viral content. The most interesting blog posts, photos and videos are engaged with time and time again—spreading (like a virus) throughout the social media outlets, and potentially from one social media network to another.
Like measuring traffic, measuring engagement can be fairly easy too. For instance, you can log into your profile on Facebook and you are given a number that shows how many times users have engaged with your page and your content over a given period of time. On the other networks there are other systems to measure this, but the process is still simple. Smaller businesses may choose to use Google Analytics to measure engagement across platforms while larger organizations may need the power or a program such as Omniture. The important thing when using any system like this is that you set them up to calculate the engagement types that are meaningful to you. For instance, you may only feel successful when your posts are shared—not liked—it is possible to set up these tools to measure what matters to you.
The next metric to consider when you are looking at social media performance are leads. Leads are people that come to your social media website who could later turn into customers (conversions). When you look at social media in a completely honest manner, you know that a huge percentage of people who visit your page will never do anything more than read your content, look at your photos and perhaps like your page (if they are a friend, acquaintance or fan of the brand.) However, there are some individuals or organizations who are visiting your site because they are actively seeking a product or service like yours—these are leads.
It is very difficult to track leads accurately. This is done by looking deeper at your traffic and engagement stats and finding out which of these “visitors” is likely to become a conversion. One key factor that is often overlooked is length of visit. Those who stay on your page longer are more likely to be a lead than those who quickly click on and off of it. While it may not seem like it, nearly every social media platforms offers some way to track leads. This slideshow by Hubspot offers excellent tips to track and nurture leads through Twitter—which is often thought of as being less user friendly for developing business relationships than other social media websites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
The ultimate pay off when it comes to anything on the web is the conversion. A conversion may be a sale, subscription or even a click. Each business will have a different definition of a conversion based on the firm’s overall goals and plans for the future. However, for the most part it involves turning a visitor into a buyer or a user. A tool like Google analytics or Infusionsoft can show how conversions came about.
It is important that you understand what drives your visitors to become conversions—so that you can encourage this to happen more in the future. That way if you identify that visitors who are conversions most often come from one particular social network, or through a certain type of link, then you can do what is necessary to replicate this in the future.
Like all the metrics, it is important that you not only observe how conversions occur today, but that you compare today’s statistics with yesterday’s and tomorrow’s. Things are constantly changing with social media and if you are watching these statistics carefully, you can better stay at the forefront of change and avoid falling behind on the latest trends.
The final of the five metrics covered here is sentiment. It is quite easy to forget about this sentiment I when compared to more objective measures, however when you are dealing with anything having to do with a large number of people, subjective measures are important too.
Sentiment is the overall “feeling” that visitors, leads and conversions have about your social media page and your brand as a whole. For instance, quite often, there are pages on Facebook that get a lot of traffic, but they are very negative. If you are getting a lot of traffic and engagement, but not seeing that reflect into leads and conversions, then you may want to consider sentiment.
One of the more popular social media tools that does a good job tracking sentiment is HootSuite. With this tool, you can see what percentage of posts about your brand are positive, negative or neutral. While these statistics may not be 100% accurate, they can be a great way to get a good handle on what people are saying and thinking about your firm—and help you decide if you need to make changes in how you are interacting with visitors.
There are, of course, other metrics besides these five that can be valuable for certain organizations. Do not get boxed in to one way of thinking. Social media is still new and changing every day. Spend some time looking at not just your numbers, but at what you are accomplishing. Sometimes numbers can be deceiving—both positively and negatively. Remember to rely on your feeling and intuition too. If something does not “feel” like it is working right, it probably isn’t—and vice versa. Make an adjustment, check your metrics again and try again! Social media success is something that is within your grasp, as long as you are willing to work for it and work to keep it.