As you probably know, social media tools and platforms have a huge impact on many aspects of business, from customer service and employee hiring to marketing and product development.
But how do you actually know if your social engagement efforts are successful?
Some have argued that it is silly to ask for return on investment (ROI) or to measure things; after all, you wouldn’t ask what the ROI of answering the phone is, would you? Or maybe you would.
My philosophy is that you have to be where your fans and enthusiasts are (if it fits with your goals and objectives). If people are talking about you and you’re not listening, responding and engaging with them, that’s bad business. But if you’re running specific programs, promotions and initiatives that require time, money and resources, you need to be measuring what’s working and what’s not.
Ultimately, I believe in looking at a bigger picture (social, search and email factors and trends) to understand your online recognition and reputation and their impact on your business. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also look at what your specific social media initiatives are doing for you.
While your company should create a customized measurement program that is based on real goals, here are six overall buckets to examine.
1. Business metrics
There are tools that can help you link specific social media efforts to business outcomes. These are things such as leads, new email subscribers, sales and donations. I use a tool called Argyle Social for this. You can create campaigns and see which links/posts to social sites drive the most conversions.
Depending on your goals, you may want to track other things (assign a value to them first), such as the number of calls to customer service over time, number of new ideas submitted, or the number of times people have given feedback on your products or services. Keep track of these things and look at how your social engagement has affected them.
2. Share of voice and sentiment
In social media, share of voice refers to the number of conversations about your brand versus your competitors/market. To do this, use a monitoring program that can help you keep track of conversations about your brand and your competitors over a given time period.
When looking at all these mentions, make sure to track which ones are positive, negative and neutral so you can assign a weight to each of these categories and calculate your average sentiment. To get share of voice, divide the number of conversations about your brand by the total number of conversations about brands in your market. Jay Baer has a great beginner’s guide to share of voice on his blog, and some useful spreadsheets to help you get started.
It is good to keep track of share of voice and sentiment over time so you can see how your social engagement and promotions affect your overall trends, and use this information to make smarter marketing decisions. Also, if your sentiment/share of voice jumps or drops suddenly, you’ll want to dig deeper to understand why.
Building awareness may be one of your goals or jobs as a marketer. A few things that may help signal online awareness include:
- Amount of website traffic, site visits or page views
- Number of searches for brand terms
- Video and content views
Engagement is the extent to which people interact with you and your content. Some signs of engagement include:
- Likes (of a Facebook page and of your content)
- Mentions (positive, negative and neutral)
- Blog comments
- Email opens, clicks, complaints, etc. Don’t forget about email, as your participation on social sites can have a positive (or negative, if you’re doing it wrong) impact on your numbers here.
Influence is the likelihood that what you’re doing inspires action. Some signals of influence may include:
- Number of (and quality of) inbound links to your content
- Likelihood that emails drive actions
- Likelihood that Twitter links are retweeted or commented on
- Likelihood that Facebook posts will be commented on and liked
- Likelihood that content will be shared/liked (and to what extent)
Online popularity is essentially the number of people who subscribe to your content. Some people say it’s all about the quality of your following, not the quantity. That’s true to some extent; however if you’re looking for advertisers or sponsors to partner with on social programs, having 10,000 followers on Twitter looks a lot better than having 500. Some examples of online popularity signals include:
- Number of email subscribers
- Number of followers on Twitter
- Number of members of a LinkedIn group
- Number of people who like your Facebook page
I hope these buckets serve as helpful starting points for you. Before starting a new program, make sure you understand your current numbers so you can see how things change over time.