As a small business owner, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the myriad social networks, their analytics, and your responsibilities to them. But, at the same time, it can be difficult to prioritize where to expend your effort, and which metrics matter. As with most factors when it comes to running a small business, it depends on your goal. Whether you’re wanting to get the word out, bring in revenue, or get a great reputation, this will determine which aspects of social media will best answer the question, “How well am I doing?”
The First Steps
Before you get into metrics for your specific goal, you have to make sure your social media profiles are providing the basic benefits. Each metric you track should spread brand awareness, generate leads, or maintain (or improve) brand experience or reputation—and the best metrics will fall into more than one of those categories. Once you’ve established that baseline, you can narrow down your list based on what you hope to achieve by following specific metrics.
Getting the Word Out
When you unveil a new product or enact a new policy, your primary concern is maximizing its exposure. The more people who see it, the greater a success it will be. Pay attention to likes, shares, and views—these factors show how many people are interacting with your content. Referrals to your website and mentions of your brand also fall into this category; measuring customer awareness of your brand and product can tell you how that information spreads best. That will allow you to adjust your social media usage accordingly, and draw in the most people.
There are many different strategies for getting the word out, including:
- Blogging: A steady stream of fresh, relevant blog posts serve a dual purpose: they’ll boost your company’s search engine rankings, and they’ll keep customers coming back for the latest articles. The most important thing is to be consistent, and to offer timely, compelling content.
- Emails: In today’s social world, it’s important to tie in your email marketing with social media. Include Facebook and Twitter links within the body of your email.
- Social Advertising: Most social media networks offer advertising opportunities. Take the time to understand how the ad programs work, what investment is required, and typical results other businesses have achieved.
- Contests/Giveways: By offering special incentives on social media sites, you’ll encourage your fans and followers to share your links and spread the word to their own networks.
Getting the Revenue In
On the other hand, if your driving motivation for social media is increasing revenue, your focus should be on metrics that measure more concrete details. Pay attention to which social platforms lead to customers or click-throughs, or have a low bounce rate. By looking at leads and sales-oriented metrics, you’ll be better able to grasp your return on investment, so you can confidently set up a marketing plan using social media to the best impact. Tracking word-of-mouth referrals can also be useful: they are the equivalent of any positive review, share, or click-through, and often have more sway among friends.
There are many effective social media tracking tools available, some of which are free or very inexpensive. Here are just a few:
- Hootsuite: This is an Internet-based tool that houses all of your social media accounts in one easy, intuitive dashboard. From one place, you can create and send messages, assign tasks to employees, and collaborate on projects.
- Klout: Using a complex algorithm, Klout assigns your business a score based on how active you are on social media networks. You can also evaluate other companies’ Klout scores to determine who you share content with (or accept content from).
- Google Analytics: Google offers a Social Reports tool that calculates how your social media traffic is impacting revenue. This gives you valuable insight into the best investment of your social media activity.
- Facebook Insights: From this online dashboard, you can view detailed reporting of your Facebook activity, allowing you to gain better insights into the behavior and motivations of your followers.
Getting the Reputation Up
One of the best uses for social media is simply being part of the conversation—putting your company out there, interacting with customers and potential customers, and staying present in people’s minds. Keeping tabs on brand mentions, as well as the duration of engagement and ratio of activity of your clientele, will keep you on the right track in the social media sphere, and help you immediately enter crisis mode if the need arises.
- SocialMention is a handy tool for tracking brand mentions. Simply enter your business name and view an instant report of where customers are talking about you on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other networks.
Once you’ve identified your goal for social media, you’ll be able to take advantage of the measurable metrics to see if you’re on the path to achieving that aim.
*This is a guest article by Megan Totka*