Is Your Social Marketing Working? Easy Ways To Measure Your Success

By December 16, 2013Social Marketing
Is Your Social Marketing Working? Easy Ways To Measure Your Success
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Getting started on social media can be enough of a challenge… now you have to measure it, too? A marketer’s job is never done!

I recently posted some tips for getting started (with a mere half hour a day, no less) so if you missed that one and need a kick to get into gear, it’s a good place to start.

But if you’re already there, posting your little heart away on Google and Facebook and Pinterest and on and on, then it’s time to buckle down and decide whether your efforts are paying off. Otherwise you’ll keep on posting and spending (or wasting) time with no idea why.

Here are a few easy ways to determine how successful you are with your social marketing. If you’re satisfied with the results, keep going! If not, well, that’s a topic for another post…

The Many Faces Of Engagement

Each social network has its own version of engagement. On Facebook it’s the “like” and on Google it’s the “plus” but it boils down to the same thing: people are interacting with and responding to things that you post.

And there are different ways to interact, too, of increasing value to you.

On the low end are likes and pluses. Those are the simple things that people can do with a click of a button to show support or interest. They’re cursory but they do mean that someone noticed. And the good news about that is that the more people notice, the farther your content can reach.

On Facebook for example, content with more likes will be shown to more people compared to content with no or fewer likes.

In the mid-range are comments. If someone takes the time to comment on Facebook or Google (or reply on Twitter) to something you’ve posted then pat yourself on the back. You’ve interested someone enough to get them to stop what they were doing and pay attention to YOU!

The most valuable kind of engagement is the share. If someone not only stops what they’re doing to pay attention to you but finds your content worthy of sharing… just listen to those choirs singing. That magnifies your reach by the entire audience of the person doing the sharing – or if you really think about, the person doing the marketing for you.

So pay attention not only to whether you’re generating engagement but also to what type of engagement.

Here are a few things to track over time for common networks… and by “over time” I mean “regularly” so give yourself a schedule where you’re looking for increases in engagement, whether that’s daily, weekly, monthly or something else.

Facebook: measure likes, comments, shares and reach. See if you can determine which content types get the most (and the most valuable) engagement. Do more of that!

Be sure to reply to comments and don’t overlook private messages – they may not boost your reach but they’re still engagement. And they’re personal engagement, so ignore at your peril.

Twitter: measure tweets, retweets, mentions and favorites. This is also a great way to help you recognize popular blog topics and capitalize on what people find most compelling.

Remember to reply to mentions and thank people for their shares. While you’re there, notice what people are favoriting. It could be a great jumping off point for follow-up, questions or a conversation starter. (Hey, I noticed you favorited my social media post. Where do you do most of your social marketing/what metrics do you measure/are you stuck on anything I can help with/how about those crazy new Facebook changes, huh? …etc)

Google: measure plus-ones, comments and shares. Follow the same advice as above!

Pinterest: measure pins, repins and if you’re a super marketer, comments. And… see above.

Movement Down Your Funnel

All this liking/sharing/pinning is great but what’s even better is when you can move people along your sales funnel. How do you know when that happens?

Easy! Links.

When you post a link to your Twitter stream or your Facebook page, are people clicking? Remember, social marketing isn’t an end to itself. It should drive your business forward and help you reach your goals, whatever those may be.

Ultimately you want to drive people to your home base. Not to Facebook. Not to Twitter. Those are great places to start the conversation but the magic happens on your turf, and that’s usually your website.

Think of your social networks like little rivers all emptying into the ocean of your website.  Once you bring people back there, you can convince and convert.

So start by figuring out whether people are bothering to click those links in the first place. Then get more granular by tracking your links to see what people do after they click.

You can easily add UTM tracking code that you can follow through Google Analytics from first click to last action. That makes it easy to find out what people are doing, from signing up for your email list to contacting you to making a purchase.

If you’re new to tracking, don’t fret. Start small. Decide that for one week you’re going to add tracking code to any links that take people to sign up for your webinar. See how it goes.

The cool thing is that you can set up different tracking code for each social network if you want to, so you can see whether people were more likely to sign up from Facebook or Twitter, for example.

Don’t worry about tracking everything all the time. Not everyone has time for that and it’s better to track some things (or even ONE specific thing) than nothing at all because you’re too stressed out and overwhelmed to get started.

Winning The Popularity Wars

There’s safety – and social proof – in numbers. No, it’s not all about the numbers, but to a large extent they do matter.

First, we’re naturally attracted to big numbers. When we see someone on Twitter with 100,000 followers, we assume they’re important. When we see a competitor with 5,000 Facebook fans, we want them.

Numbers beget numbers. Nobody wants to sit at the loser’s table. And while there’s no magic tipping point, there’s no doubt that the more followers and fans you have, the more likely people are to follow and fan you. The more shares your blog post has, the more likely people are to share it. It’s a bit of a snowball effect.

We humans are weird like that.

Secondly, it’s been studied over and over and found that only a small percentage of people ever actively engage online. You know how you have 796 friends on Facebook but you only ever get comments from four of them? That doesn’t mean the other 792 don’t see your content. They’re just the silent majority.

That means you need numbers if you want more chance of actual engagement. It’s social math.

I’ll qualify that by saying that you can’t add fans and followers haphazardly. Fake, spammy, disinterested, irrelevant and ill-targeted followers don’t do you any good. So this is not numbers-for-numbers’-sake, but you do need to consider taking the time to build your audience past 10.

And as you build your audience, count.

Count how many fans and followers you’ve added. Count how many you’ve lost. Are you netting positive followers over time? That’s the point.

Klout With A “K”. Seriously.

Klout is one of the most maligned love-to-hate metrics that exists. But I’ll make an argument that in a numbers game, it’s important.

You may have heard about companies basing their hiring decisions on a person’s Klout score. And while I think that’s pretty nuts as far as qualifiers go, it’s not nuts to think that your business (and you as its representative) will be taken more seriously if you’ve got a bit of the K.

Yes, it’s a made-up number based on a made-up algorithm but it’s relative. That means the made-up algorithm that measures your influence is the same as the made up algorithm that measures your competitor’s influence. So relatively speaking, you are either more – or less – than your competitors.

I told you we were weird, right?

As long as it’s a thing that matters to people then why not check it out once in a while?

If you’re engaging with people online, answering your comments and replies, generating likes, shares and replies, then you’ll be fine. Stop obsessing.

But it’s a good thing to look at over time to see whether – relatively speaking – you’re keeping up with yourself. If your Klout plummets five points in one month, that’s a good indicator that you’ve done less social marketing, engaged less and ultimately been in front of people less.

The Holy Grail: Leads And Sales

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could directly tie leads and sales to your social media efforts?

Well, you can. Not always, because sometimes there is a long, convoluted path – not so much through a sales funnel as through a crazy straw – from initial contact to conversion. Social media is often one assist along that path.

But if you’re tracking links then you can tell whether someone who clicked it made a purchase. It doesn’t matter whether that person has visited your site a hundred times or has been on your mailing list for six years. Social gets the sale.

And if you’re talking to leads you can ask.

Someone called me recently to ask for help with her marketing plan – and subsequently hired me. Do you know how I know that she found me via Twitter? I asked.

Unless you know your prospect well, always ask how they found you. If you keep a note of how many leads you generate this way, you can easily see trends over time.

It would also be nice to know, even if your prospect didn’t specifically meet you on social media, whether they follow you there. Social media is, after all, part credibility-generator and part relationship-builder. Without both of those things, you’re a lot less likely to make any sale at all.

How The Heck To Track All This Stuff

One word: spreadsheet.

It doesn’t have to get a whole lot more complicated than that. When you finish reading this, open up your favorite spreadsheet program and make yourself a couple of tracking charts.

Track your fans/followers on various networks. Track your leads/sales. Track your mentions/shares/likes on specific content.

Keeping a few key metrics at your fingertips can help you see patterns quickly.

And don’t reinvent the wheel. Google Analytics is a goldmine of information. Facebook and Twitter each have analytics of their own. There are other tools like Commun.it to help you track engagement.

If you use a CRM you can track your leads and sales and even engagement notes that way.

Find something you’re comfortable with, start with one metric and watch it. Remember, it’s better to start with something and add more later than to get overwhelmed trying to cover all your bases at once.

Now tell me… are you measuring your social media success? What metrics are you looking at right now? What do you want to add?

If you need help figuring out what to measure or how, let me know. I’d love to help you de-stress by showing you how to get started and keep on going!

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera