How Should You Measure Your Social Media Activity?

We work with clients regularly to help them evaluate or establish various channels of online communication with their key audiences. Social media is obviously often part of the process we use in helping them connect with these audiences. Often, but not always. When it is, just as with any other form of communication, one thing we want to establish right up front is a means of measuring the value of this activity. 

While social media communication has become very popular due to its reach and (presumed) low cost, there is certainly cost involved. That cost can be related to staff time or consulting services. Another, sometimes overlooked, cost is the potential impact on the organization’s image or brand.

Companies of all sizes, in any industry or geography, that are engaged in social media communication should be measuring that activity to ensure it is meeting their needs. This starts with a clear understanding of both the target audience and the desired outcomes. Those outcomes can range from simply raising awareness to generating leads, prospects or sales.

Clarifying the desired audience is critical and should be carefully monitored–it’s often not. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of followers you have if they don’t represent your target audience. Often, when we audit social media activity for clients we find that this is the case. When analyzing client sites we often find that they are populated by non-customers and non-prospects, therefore not really delivering any real value. The key to using social media — or any communications — effectively, is to ensure that you are reaching your target audience with key messages that will resonate with them because they provide value of some kind.

So, this tends to be our starting point. A small, targeted audience, has far more potential value than a large audience that does not reflect your target market.

Once the appropriate target audience is established, monitoring such things as follows, likes and retweets can give an indication of the type of content that is resonating with these audiences. But, here again, it’s important to dig deeper into the analysis to determine who is retweeting something, for instance, and who are they retweeting it to — in other words, does their audience reflect a target population that meets your needs? If not, those +1’s, likes and retweets may make you feel good but they’re not likely creating value based on your objectives.

Another key measure that we monitor that has more of bottom line impact is the traffic that is driven to a web site from social media channels and, once on the site, whether that social media-generated traffic moves through the sales funnel to some desired end result — e.g. to request a whitepaper, download a report, request a consult, purchase a product, etc. We’ve seen some great results here and the measurability of this activity makes it easy to quickly adjust tactics to increase desired results.

These are the metrics that matter. Are you monitoring them?

by Linda Pophal

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