Yeah. You get it. You need to develop a presence on social media to help you grow your small business and form that all-important relationship with customers. But…how do you know if you’re doing it right? Or if it’s even working? What are the social media metrics you should be watching to ensure your company is headed down the right path? Is there any way to find out?
The truth is tracking social media doesn’t have to be any more difficult than tracking your other marketing campaigns; you just have to know what to look for. If you’re just getting started, below are six metrics worth watching to help you determine how this social media thing is working for your SMB.
1. Increased awareness/mentions
For many small business owners, this is how they’ll begin tracking social media because it’s an easy way to get started, especially as building awareness is one of the core goals for a small business. To gauge how well you’re doing, take an initial baseline count of your Twitter followers, your Facebook fans, LinkedIn group members, etc, and then monitor those numbers over time to see how they grow. The exact number of followers/friends/devotees isn’t important in itself (remember, we’re shooting for quality, not quantity here), you’re just looking to spot the trend. Hopefully, you’ll find that you’re numbers are increasing over time. If they’re not, this is a good indicator that you’re headed down the wrong path and you should revisit your strategy.
You can also track awareness by looking at how many mentions you get in a particular day/week/month and benchmark that number as well. How often are you being brought into the conversation and is that number increasing with your social media participation or not?
2. Sentiment analysis
Of course, you don’t just want to benchmark the number of mentions your brand is receiving, you also want to look at the type of mentions and whether it’s positive or negative. Or, said simpler, when customers are talking about you, what are they saying? Are they singing the praises of your product and talking about how responsive you are? Or are they complaining that your product sucks and how they can never get you on the phone? Ideally, you should be seeing brand sentiment improve the more you engage and make yourself visible. You’ll also want to document frequent complaints and the ratio of positive to negative mentions to help determine where the social media pendulum is falling for your brand. There’s no sense increasing your brand’s awareness if the conversation isn’t one you want people to be having.
3. How social users act
A user exposed to your brand via social media will act differently than a user exposed to your brand via search. They show up with different expectations, under different pretenses, and with different goals. To make sure you’re properly targeting social media users, you’ll want to segment this part of your traffic and take a look at how they’re interacting with your site. Do they stay on your site longer or shorter than traditional search users? Which social users (Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc) are more engaged with your content? Do they become repeat visitors? How much social traffic do you get and how does that traffic compare to search? What types of social media users do you most attract? Who is sharing your content? Understanding the different behavior patterns and buying cycles will help you optimize the different experiences. It may also give you some insight into which social media networks are worth your time and which ones you hadn’t even thought to engage with.
4. Conversions & Micro-Conversions
Not every social media campaign will be tied to a direct conversion on your site, but if you are running some type of a social media promotion (maybe you’re selling an ebook or you’re running a Twitter special on rooms at your bed and breakfast), this is obviously something you’ll want to track. You want to not only know where these leads come from, but which actions or campaigns prompted them. What calls to action were used? What landing pages? What sites did you target? These are all things you can track so you can tweak or re-use next time.
You also want to look at micro-conversions. For example, maybe someone didn’t book a room with you right there, but they did sign up for email newsletter, subscribed to your blog or they liked your brand on Facebook. These small successes can build larger successes down the road and are also worth noting. Don’t ignore them.
5. Links to your site
We can’t talk about monitoring an online marketing campaign without talking about links. If you’re running a contest, creating content or doing anything else designed to build interest in your brand, then monitoring your backlinks is a good way to see if it’s working or not. Using a simple tool like Yahoo Site Explorer or Google Webmaster Central can help you find links coming in to that specific URL or to your site as a whole. While this is one way to gauge how widely a specific piece of content was spread, it will also help you find new blogs and authority sites that you’ll want to participate on to grow your brand even more.
6. New rankings
With new links and increased buzz opens up an opportunity to build your rankings for new terms, assuming you’ve taken the time to optimize your social media campaigns for search. Dig into your analytics to see which keywords are bringing in additional traffic to your site, how well those terms are converting for you, and what content piece or promotion generated those additional rankings. This can help you identify the effective of specific campaign, while also opening your eyes to keyword opportunities you may have missed before.
Above are six easy metrics for small business owners to track to help the effectiveness of their social media campaigns. What else are you tracking?