With more and more marketers jumping onto the social media bandwagon, a lot of questions come up. Is it possible to track metrics and ROI? What are other companies doing? Why isn’t it working? Being prepared to answer questions like these can make a difference in how a company interacts with social media and if they can succeed.
How can we track social media?
Unfortunately, there is no one “most effective” social media tracking system. Marketers across the web are still working to figure out how to measure social media, how to attach ROI, and how to sell the benefits of participation on the social web to those that don’t “get it”.
Social media marketing isn’t like an email campaign where you can track the number of emails sent out, the number that were opened, the number of clicks, visits, leads and conversions all in one process. Much of what happens in the social media world happens behind a login and the old ways of tracking web visitor analytics just doesn’t work in that scenario.
Just like any kind of marketing, each company has their own set of objectives and reasons for reaching them via social media channels. That means different methods and approaches to the listening, monitoring and measuring of both social web and web marketing activities at large. The field of social media analytics is still very new. Here are 7 considerations as you evaluate what will work best in your social media tracking.
Quality over Quantity
This has been said again and again and lots of people still feel that the more followers/friends/subscribers/connections they have, the better. The reality is, quantity is not and end goal for lead or sales generation outcomes. What good is it to have 13,000 followers if 1/3 of them are spam accounts and 1/3 are auto followers who will never engage with you? Sure 13,000 looks good to those who can only focus on numbers, but what is the quality of those 13,000? Seth Godin mentioned at the MIMA Summit that all you need is an audience of about 1,000. But it needs to be the right 1,000 people.
Hearing vs. Listening
Have you stopped to think about who is actually paying attention in social networks? A person or a brand may have X number of followers or friends, but how many of them are actively listening at any given time? How many people do you ACTUALLY reach when you post a tweet, make a status update or blog post? Subscriber counts and reach are two different things. Think of it like a college professor talking to students: How many of them are paying attention during a lecture? With social media participation it’s the same thing; you need to realize that not everyone is always hearing what you have to say and factor in the difference between connections and actual reach.
Engage & Participate
Effective social media marketing is about is engaging and participating. If a marketer joins a social network and focuses on promoting themselves, product or company, they’ll get an entirely different set of outcomes than those they have goals for. Think about it. Social means to be conversational, friendly, helpful. When participating in social channels, talk to other members of the community, participate in the conversations and give people a reason to interact with you. Add a little romance before you ask to get engaged
Social Media is About Being Where the Conversation Is.
Marketers need to stop and think about where their audiences are online and where relevant conversations are happening. That could be niche social networks, forums and blogs. Those niche areas may have fewer people, but will more than likely have more engagement value for relevant products or services being shared. To find those niche communities and conversations, use social media monitoring software. Free tools include Google Alerts or Social Mention. Low cost tools include Trackur and PostRank Analytics.
Assign Value to Get Value.
Whether it’s a tweet, retweet, a status update, comment, photo upload or story submission, if you want to find out how valuable it is you have to assign a value. It doesn’t matter how or what that value is, but setting up some sort of system will help determine what’s working and what’s not.
Define an Objective.
Before jumping into social networking, it’s essential to set an objective. Going in and participating with social network and media sharing sites just to participate may not bring the kind of results you’d like. A clear objective as part of a social media strategy should be set so you know what you are working towards. It will guide your messaging, behaviors, networking activity as well as the kind of content you seek and share.
Social Media is An Investment.
Social media success takes time. The seeds of relationships need to grow and you’ll need to invest what’s needed to make it work for whatever end goals that are set. Expecting results in a month or two isn’t realistic; it may take a year or more. It really depends on the Roadmap that guides your: Audience > Objectives > Strategy > Tactics > Tools > Measurement. Effective social media participation is about building a network and building trust. That doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient, do it right, and you’ll be rewarded in the long run.
What other considerations should be in this list? If you’ve undertaken new social media programs with your company, what were some of the measurement and analytics hurdles that you overcame?