If you can’t answer the question at the top of this page, your social media marketing activities could be destined for failure.
Measurement is an important part of any good strategy and without it, social activities could prove to be costly and ineffective. Failing to regularly review your performance also means that, if you’re moving in the wrong direction, you probably won’t know until it’s too late.
Over the years, social media measurement has generated a great deal of discussion. Many businesses are still unsure about where to start, and although there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution, there are plenty of good practices that will help you track and monitor your efforts.
Get started with these six steps:
1. Remember what you want to achieve and why
Before you do anything else, review your marketing strategy and your wider business objectives. What are you trying to achieve with your marketing and how can social media activities assist? At this point in time, you don’t need to think too much about tactics or the specifics of your social output, just focus on your overarching aims and ambitions.
2. Plan social activities relative to business objectives
With your business strategy firmly in mind, think about how social media can help. Take your existing objectives and ‘translate’ them for social. If improving your customer service and relationship management is a major goal, your translated aim may relate to increasing after-sales satisfaction (by supplying product ‘how to’ information, alternative use ideas and care information, for example) across specific networks.
If you’re having trouble understanding where social media can help, you could think of it as departmental support for key functions like sales, marketing, customer service, PR and product development.
3. Review your social strategy
Before you start thinking in detail about tactics, you’ll need to review your current social strategy. The purpose of this step is to help you understand if you’re in the right place, saying the right things to the right audience. If you’re not, even the most carefully planned tactics won’t be of much use.
Consider the following five factors:
- What are you currently doing and why?
- Who are they?
- Where are they?
- When and where would they be most receptive to your communications?
- What do they need from your brand?
- How are they consuming your content?
- Do certain social networks have features that will complement your objectives?
- Look at targeting options, paid promotions and the types of content that work well on particular platforms.
- What are they doing?
- How are they doing it?
- Where are they active?
- Do they share the same audience as you?
It’s important not to copy your competitors, but it’s also wise to know as much as you can about their strategy and how they’re performing.
- Is your current content marketing strategy suitable for your social media efforts or do you require additional content?
- Do you have the right type of content, and enough of it, to get results on specific networks?
- Is there someone available to monitor and manage your social networks for the amount of time that’s required for you to achieve your objectives?
Once you’ve considered all of the above, you can choose to either move to the next step, review areas of your existing strategy, or, for those that have no social presence, begin creating a strategy.
4. Plan your social tactics
Now it’s time to think about how you can work to achieve the objectives you listed in step 2.
Tactics are simply the social activities that generate results; they can include anything from social competitions and advertising to discussions on Facebook and LinkedIn. Refer back to step 3 and review your selected network’s available features and the types of results these can generate.
It’s important to be as specific as possible when listing tactics as this will make it easier for you to understand and evaluate particular measures to achieve the results you’re looking for.
5. Choose metrics and measurement tools relevant to your tactics
How you measure your results depends on the tactics you have in place. Think about the types of results that your tactics will generate and this should naturally lead you to an appropriate form of measurement.
If you’re launching a Twitter ad campaign to drive traffic to a particular product page, for example, unique views of that page and sales enquiries about that product will be a useful indicator of the effectiveness of your advertising.
If you don’t have the resources required to purchase expensive social media performance measurement and management tools, don’t worry. There are plenty of free or low-cost options that can provide you with quality data as a useful starting point, such as Google Analytics and social networks’ own data services.
Social performance tools can present an overview of what’s happening on each of your pages, while Google Analytics can complete the ‘story’, showing you what happens once users have clicked through to your website.
6. Benchmark, compare, analyse and review
When reviewing performance across specific time periods, it’s useful to have internal benchmarks as well as industry-specific or competitor data in place.
These are important because they give you a base on which to review your current performance and set key performance indicators. They also allow you to spot short- and long-term trends.
Internal benchmarks are the easiest and most cost effective to set up and maintain.
Before you begin implementing your new tactics, take base readings of each measure you’re recording (even if it’s zero) so you have something to compare later results to. Make sure you keep to a reporting schedule for consistency.
If you’re unable to purchase or find industry statistics, you can still review your competitors’ activities and look for simple measures that you can easily obtain. You won’t be able to access other companies’ analytics programmes, but all social networks have metrics that are publicly viewable, such as followers, likes and retweets. Once again, when finding metrics to track and compare against, keep your social strategy and tactics in mind.
To be truly successful on your selected social networks, performance measurement and benchmarking should lead you to further data analysis, strategy revision and, where required, change.
When it comes to analysis, look for trends (good and bad) and do some investigating. Search for potential cause and effect changes between related social and business performance measures and don’t be afraid of bad results – use them to your advantage by reviewing your strategy and making adjustments while you can still easily influence results.
If this all still sounds confusing and daunting, it’s worth looking into sources of outside support that could help you get better results from your social media activities.
Contact us to discuss your marketing needs.