One of the biggest problems I see with social media is that businesses expect it solve all of their marketing problems.
But, unfortunately, social media is not a silver bullet. Social media needs to be integrated into your overall marketing efforts and align with company goals to be effective.
A few months ago, I wrote about how popularity does not equal social media success. And while I still believe that to be true, the conversation around that post showed that the outcomes you measure really depends on what you want to accomplish.
For some, paying attention audience numbers makes sense. But for others, that metric means very little — especially if you want social media to help generate business.
Whether you’re new to social media or simply want to refocus your efforts in 2013, you must first crystalize your business goals and determine how social media can help achieve them. Then, you can identify the metrics you should be watching.
Here are a few examples of how to tie social media measurement to goals:
Goal: Build Awareness
Perhaps the easiest and most common way to use social media is as an awareness tool. Social media can help businesses introduce themselves to people who may be interested in your offerings.
By engaging with your target audience on social channels and sharing your content with them (such as blog posts, videos and whitepapers), you’re spreading the word about your company and generating “buzz” about your products or services.
Here are some ways you can measure improvements in awareness:
- Followers, likes and shares — especially if you drill it down to those who fit your target audience
- Traffic to your website and blog from social channels
- Brand mentions on social channels
- Increased traffic from brand website searches
Drive Leads and Sales
What many companies are really after with social media is the ability to generate leads, and ultimately, sales. For social media to be most effective at this stage of the sales funnel, you should focus on driving people to content that helps them develop a deeper connection with you.
That content might be your blog, or it could be landing pages for your premium content (such as ebooks, webinars, tutorials, etc.), which require an email opt-in to get the information. Or, you can promote free trials or other offerings that help capture lead information.
Here are some ways you can measure social media’s impact on the sales funnel:
- Downloads or views of premium content
- Number of email subscribers / opt-ins
- Amount of sales or new customers from social media traffic
- Improve conversions from social media leads to buyers
- Shortened sales cycle for social media leads
Strengthen Customer Loyalty
For companies that want to drive repeat business and referrals, social media can help you create loyalty with your customers and encourage them to recommend your business to others.
While engagement itself is not the goal, social media can help you nurture client relationships, reward your advocates and help you better understand customer’s needs.
Here are some ways you can measure loyalty:
- The number of repeat customers who are socially engaged with you
- Recommendations on social channels and review sites
- Sales from existing customers who’ve engaged with you on social media
- New customers that came from social media referrals
- Reduced customer attrition
- Improved customer service response times & reviews
Goals Before Social Media Measurement
Yes, it’s important to measure your social media efforts. But, you must understand how social media fits into your overall business goals first. That way, you’ll be measuring the right metrics instead of tracking numbers that are meaningless to your business.
What about you? What are your business goals for social media? How are you measuring your efforts?
A version of this post first appeared as a guest column for the Nashville Business Journal.
Image credit: Steve Harris