Do you know how much a Facebook “like” is worth? Or a retweet? Or a follower?
There’s no easy, universal answer, and the intangibility of these and other online interactions can make the whole concept of social media marketing seem like little more than guesswork. After all, the fact that a user has engaged with your brand on social media doesn’t mean that they’re a customer. So how do you begin to understand just what your social media is really worth, and how you can make it more efficient?
The good news is that social media generates large volumes of data. The bad news is that it doesn’t interpret it for you. So while you can easily get caught up in analyzing vanity metrics like Facebook page comments and Twitter mentions, that data doesn’t necessarily tell you much. In the context of other data, though, its value becomes clearer, and you can fine-tune your strategy accordingly.
Here are some of the metrics that you should pay attention to and compare over time:
1. How Day and Time Influence Engagement
It’s tempting to just use your social media accounts whenever you feel like it, or when you have time. By doing so, though, your messaging can slip through the cracks, making you miss valuable engagement opportunities.
Different demographics use social media differently. While some audiences may check it first thing in the morning, others are more active mid-afternoon, or even in the evening. Your audience may be more active on weekdays than on weekends, or later in the week rather than on Monday or Tuesday. The only way to determine which times are most efficient for you to post on social media is to experiment for yourself, and see how your audiences react.
Experiment with posting, sharing and interacting at different times of the day, and on different days of the week. If your target audience engages with your brand more at certain times, structuring your posting schedule accordingly can put you at the top of the news feed right when it counts the most.
2. Which Types of Posts Get Shares (and More)
You already know the value of sharing varied content on social media. Profiles on networks like Facebook and Twitter aren’t for relentless shilling—they’re for sharing content from other sources, and engaging with your audience directly and personally. And their responses can be valuable in more ways than one.
The responses to your posts may not be insightful out of context, but when you compare them to each other, you can figure out what types of content your audience reacts to the most.
There are two factors that you should consider when measuring response: interactions, and conversions. An interaction can be anything from a “like” that demonstrates brand awareness and support to a share or a retweet that rebroadcasts your message and increases the size of its audience. While this has high potential for putting your brand in front of exponentially larger audiences, it doesn’t necessarily translate into conversions.
A funny picture or engaging news story, for example, may generate a high volume of interactions without conversions, while a link to an exclusive sale or coupon may do the opposite. When you know what types of content translate into direct ROI, you can focus on producing more of it.
The caveat here, of course, is that not all users will go straight from a social network to your company’s website. If you only monitor the sources of your site’s traffic, then, you could be getting an incomplete picture, and one that severely undervalues your social media. A more robust lead management program helps you see and understand the connection between interactions and conversions, so even when the path from a social network to your site isn’t direct, you can understand that network’s influence.
3. Who Interacts
It isn’t just the number of interactions your brand accumulates—it’s the people who are interacting. When you pay close attention to the users engaging with you online, you can measure more metrics that matter.
For example, do you have an influential brand advocate online? A person who engages with your profiles, shares and tweets your content, and helps you connect with a wider audience? Repeat engagement from users like this can be invaluable, and wooing those users helps you cement a lasting relationship.
By tracking your followers, including increases in interactions and conversions following a post, you can identify the influencers who share your content and more clearly understand their role.
If you haven’t yet taken a deep dive into social media metrics and lead tracking, start out slowly, because the breadth and depth of the data available to you can be overwhelming. By focusing primarily on producing a steady stream of content and identifying what speaks most to your followers, you can get started on the right track for refining your process later on.
Solomon Thimothy is the founder and CEO of integrated marketing firm OneIMS and its B2B marketing division, ClickXPosure. From their joint headquarters in Chicago, he specializes in web design and development, SEO, PPC, and a wide range of digital and traditional marketing strategies. You can connect with Solomon on Twitter or on Google+.