Everything worthy of pursuing begins from knowing what you want. At least, it would have been nice if it were that way for business owners and marketers.
Assuming you could nail down on what you want, a few things stick out like a sore thumb. Social media gets you reach, build your brand, seed traffic to your web properties, and helps you build real relationships with people.
Yet, social media – as a medium – is as vague as it can get. It’s easy to get into a “vain mode” and look at things that don’t really make an impact – like follower counts and number of fans. When you do that, you are just feeding your ego and doing nothing for your business as John hall, a contributor for Forbes.com, puts it. John lists out “vanity metrics” like the number of fans or followers, comments, shares, and the like.
It’s another thing if you have a lot of those coming at you (do celebrate) but these are not the numbers you look for, measure, or go home to write mom about.
You are in business, and the only thing that matters is conversions. So, these are the right metrics you should be looking at:
- Customer engagement
- Number of leads
- Visits to specific web properties
Let’s look at each of these in detail…
Customer Engagement & Interaction
If you are asking questions on social media, you can expect answers. The more answers you get (or offer), and the more engagement you foster, the better it is for your brand. How do these seemingly ROI-less conversations, questions, answers, and vague chitchat help your business, you ask?
- Replies for tweets, mentions of your brand, and re-sharing of your updates is how your reach is enhanced on all social networks.
- Hashtag-driven conversations lead to content amplification, as Sarah Goliger clarified on the HubSpot blog.
Number of Leads Gained
After you establish a social media calendar, setup a frequency for updates, and go live on social media. You’d obviously look for the impact each of those updates has. Facebook Insights helps you see related metrics; and if you use tools like Buffer or HootSuite, you can see similar results for other networks too.
But that’s not the whole story. Are your updates generating any leads for you?
Your social shares shouldn’t be in vain:
- For anything else apart from questions and conversations, using a tool like Snip.ly helps you track conversions with more focus. Snip.ly puts up a call to action on any post (yours or from other sources) you share on social media. Every positive action henceforth can be a lead.
- Slide decks on SlideShare.net could be direct lead generators for your business.
- Curating content using Scoop.it or Paper.li also helps you generate leads using the built-in widgets for lead generation.
Relevant, Community-Driven Traffic to Specific Web Properties
The good news with social media is that you usually get contextual traffic to your web properties. If you spend a fixed amount of time and effort to drive conversations on topics, forums, and communities relevant to your business niche, you’ll see traffic based on your engagement flowing to your web properties (home page, blog or landing pages).
For example, here’s how Q&A traffic could lead to one of your community or resource pages:
Of course, every landing page or blog post that your visitors arrive at should be optimized for “one” specific goal to make the machinery work.
For instance, on a simplistic level:
- About Us: Let’s do business together.
- Contact Us: Reach out to us if you have questions.
- Services: A specific action for every service listed.
- Blog: Subscribe by email. Plus, put up relevant calls to action on each post, depending on the subject or topic.
- Pricing Page: “Buy Now” or “Free Trial” buttons in every pricing column.
Set up goals in Google Analytics for all of these pages and posts to see if your goals are being met for every X number of visitors.
Reach & Amplification
Social media content suffers from miniscule shelf lives. Dan Stasiewski argued on Content Marketing Institute that Twitter updates have a shelf life of 18 minutes while Facebook updates live longer for up to 30 minutes. That’s why you need to:
- Post relevant updates that matter to your audience.
- Share amazing posts, statistics, insights, tips and information that make your fans and followers believe in your credibility and authority.
- Share evergreen content that resonates with your audience.
But social media, however fickle by nature, has one thing to which other digital marketing channels don’t come close: it’s called “amplification.” Do all you can to amplify and maximize the reach of your content. Rachel Sprung talked of at least 19 ways you can maximize or amplify your social reach on HubSpot.
Build a Consolidated Metrics Workflow
Social media would involve updates, conversations, curated content, images, slide decks, videos, guest posts, and a whole lot more. All of this activity on will get you traffic. That traffic has to convert. Conversions should lead to sales.
But it would be a nightmare to just keep tab of the results your efforts are bringing in. Google Analytics is only a fraction the story. You need an all-round analytics aggregation dashboard, such as Cyfe where you can get all your metrics in one place. With Cyfe, you can build your dashboards on traffic sources that are relevant to you. It also pulls out aggregate reports of your entire spectrum of activity against results for specific periods of time.
Monitor your traffic in real-time as it continues to flow; use tools such as KissMetrics, Google Analytics, Cyfe and CrazyEgg to see what’s happening when your visitors arrive. See what they are clicking on, where they spend time, and more.
Then, go testing.
As you spend time on social media, what are your goals? How are you measuring your work on social media vs. achieving these goals? What kind of metrics are you keeping tabs on?
Please tell me more about how you put social media to work.