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Welcome to measurement Mondays, our opportunity to share some best practices, educational information and talk about all things related to measurement to start your week. In this week’s measurement Monday post, we will be taking a look at social media.

Social media can be hard to measure and difficult for CMOs to understand the value of.

 

forbes.com

As with everything you measure, knowing the objectives of your social media campaigns and your presence overall is essential and can simplify the measurement and analysis process. Consider why you are including social media in your marketing mix and how your efforts will help you grow your business or increase revenue.

Many marketers measure how much their follower count has grown or the increase in the number of  likes their page has garnered. But vanity metrics like these don’t provide enough insight into the effectiveness a marketing program has had and offer no real benchmarking for performance; fans and followers don’t necessarily translate into an increase in ROI or meaningful brand engagement.

To fully understand the impact of social media on your business, you need to understand your audience and examine their engagement levels with your brand within the various social media channels and as a whole. Engaged users, not just the number of followers, lead to better brand awareness and content “virality” or reach.

This should be done on an ongoing basis, tracking activity over time and focused on specific campaigns with clearly outline goals.

Social Media Examiner suggests using a tiered point system in order to more accurately gauge response to your efforts, giving more weight to audience actions that matter, including retweets, comments, favorites, +1s and shares.

This system allows you to set numeric goals that can be measured over time. Measuring the accumulation of points by interaction helps provide insights into the types of campaigns and posts that perform best. Examining engagement also assists you in determining what types of content users deem worthy of sharing or of interacting with.

Research shows that Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets. A study by Locowise showed that Instagram, a network focused on photo sharing, outperforms Facebook and Twitter in terms of engagement, with average engagement per post at 2.81% versus .25% on Facebook and .21% on Twitter. But that doesn’t mean you should drop everything and head on over to Instagram. Every statistic needs to be broken down further for relevance to your type of business and industry.

And while statistics such as these also suggest that the types of social content that performs best are photos and videos, every business should experiment and test to discover what best resonates with their audiences. Ultimately, measuring engagement for different post types allows you to make better content decisions using quality data.

It’s not just how many

We’ve all heard the phrase quality over quantity. Just as important as how many comments social media has about your business is the quality and context of those comments. “Listening” helps you gauge brand perception and sentiment and correct if necessary.

On Twitter, you can search for your business name and view tweets that contain your business name. You can then choose to engage with and respond to these users. Not only does this give you great listening power, but it also provides a fantastic tool for real-time customer service. You can then measure the number of solutions you provide or problems solved over a period of time.

And it’s not all touchy, feely engagement and likes

Knowing that your audience likes your brand and likes what you post and share is nice…if your goal is to build an engaged community and to interact with your customers and prospects. But it’s also important to measure how social media contributes to interactions on your site and your blog and with your sales team.

Using Google Analytics (GA), you can gather insights about how much traffic social media sends to your website, which is particularly important if your goal is more website traffic from social media as a referral source. If traffic is down or not as high as you would like, evaluate your social channels, post content and the number of posts containing links to your site versus other websites.

You can also use GA to examine lead conversions from social media referrals. Sending users to landing pages and signup pages allows you to assess how well your social media efforts turn site users into leads and eventually…customers.

Tools

Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Edgar and Sprout Social are just some of the social media dashboards and management/publishing tools that offer reporting options to measure and monitor the success of your posts.

Facebook includes “insights” for pages which have at least 30 likes. Insights provide information about your facebook page’s performance and follower demographics. You can also discover how people are finding your posts and how engaged they are.

SocialMention will allow you to search for keywords or phrases (such as your business name) and aggregates mentions of your search term. It also gives you some insight into the overall sentiment of the mentions (positive, negative or neutral).

Twitter Analytics is Twitter’s own analytics dashboard that allows you to track your timeline activity including tweets that were favorited, retweeted and replied to.

Conclusion

Measuring social media, especially as it pertains to ROI, can be difficult. It’s easy to be distracted by vanity metrics that don’t tell enough of the story and can lead you to abandon your efforts. But with 52% of online adults using two or more social media sites (PewInternet.org), having a social media presence, knowing your goals and measuring your success is a critical part of your marketing strategy. How important is it? It’s only important if your customers use the internet. At all. Ever. Read our case study to learn how one company increased visits to their website by almost 250% in two months.