Your Company’s Biggest Social Media Mistake, and How to Fix It
By Colin Ryan
In a recent survey, 37 percent of companies said they don’t know how to measure the value of social media. Although that number has decreased since 2010, plenty of businesses in the remaining 63 percent are probably doing it wrong.
Engaging consumers on social media outlets has essentially become a marketing no-brainer for companies of all shapes and sizes. Calculating the return you’re getting on your social media investment—now that’s another story. Many companies use fan and follower counts to measure their social media investments, but these numbers don’t offer much insight into how much business your Facebook and Twitter campaigns are generating—in fact, they’re often misleading.
It’s not difficult to imagine why fan and follower counts are constantly misinterpreted—they’re the first figures executives, employees, visitors, and competitors see every time they access your company’s pages, so it’s easy to use them as a default index for your social media presence. After all, the more fans and followers you have, the more people you’re reaching, right?
Not exactly. You may have hundreds of fans or followers, but your page could still be a ghost town. Indeed, using these numbers as a measure of your company’s health and worth is akin to determining a car’s speed based on hood scoops and spoilers. Presence isn’t the same as value, and it’s this distinction that many companies fail to grasp.
Instead, companies should focus on data that are more relevant to the outcomes their social media campaigns generate—namely, lead and revenue generation. Rather than harping on fans and followers, for instance, you should be focused on what those people do with the content you’re presenting to them—clicks, shares, links, and likes. These actions contribute to the larger metric of reach, the number of people who see your content regardless of whether they’re your fans or followers. The more people interact with and distribute your content, the more likely it is that they’ll take the next step and inquire directly about your products or services.
Reach is not something you can measure just by looking at your social media pages. Luckily, there are tools out there to help you. With Facebook Insights, for instance, you can track and analyze not just likes and clicks for your company’s Facebook page, but also demographics, referrals, and how your content is shared. HootSuite provides similar options for your Twitter page, and goes a step further by analyzing not just the size of the conversation, but the substance. Your followers’ responses to your tweets are a good indicator of whether you’re inspiring interest and trust in your company, which are crucial for turning fans and followers into customers.
It’s also important to examine social media in the larger context of your overall web marketing strategy. That means analyzing how your Facebook and Twitter pages are affecting your SEO strategy. Google’s suite of tools, including Analytics, Trends, and Alerts, can help you track keywords and search terms related to your company in order to determine your social media campaign’s effects on your search engine rankings.
Finally, once you’ve spent several months collecting this data, you need to measure it against your initial figures for links, search engine rankings, leads, and sales, as well as breakdowns of your advertising and marketing budget. How many new leads and conversions came directly from social media inquiries and referrals? Which campaign (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) performed the best? Did your sales numbers increase during the time you were collecting data? If so, can they be attributed to any other changes you made in your advertising or marketing strategy? By asking questions like these, you’ll develop a better sense of how social media is helping you grow your business, as well as how you can tweak your strategy to grow even more.
Published on March 27, 2011