Social media can be an extraordinarily effective marketing medium, but it can also be a tremendous time sink for brands that focus on the wrong priorities.
Many marketers religiously monitor their Facebook followers, retweets and other popular social media data, but there are other metrics that are even more important that many people ignore altogether.
Miss these, and your ability to drive major performance results from your social media marketing efforts declines significantly!
There are several reasons social shares provide very little information about the overall effectiveness of your campaign. Some of these include:
Many social shares come from bots.
Social shares may not come from your target customers.
Social shares can be from people that are speaking negatively about your brand.
While Facebook likes and retweets can provide some interesting information, you’ll also want to track the metrics that provide a more nuanced understanding of the impact of your social media efforts.
The primary goals of your social media campaign should be boosting customer engagement and brand awareness. Social shares and follower counts can tell part of the story, but you’ll want to monitor the following metrics as well for more valuable insights.
1. Brand search volume
A 2009 study from GroupM found that customers that are exposed to a brand on social media are 180 percent more likely to search for that brand on search engines.
Clearly, this demonstrates that search volume for brand terms is an important metric, yet many brands somehow fail to monitor it.
There are a variety of tools to measure brand search volume, but Google Insights and Google Trends are probably the most effective. Use these tools to compare changes in search volume for your brand against changes to your competitors’ volume. Doing so can provide insight into your ability to engage customers on social media, relative to your competition.
2. Lead growth
While this aggregate data — such as number of social followers or social mentions — can be a good indicator of overall brand awareness, it provides little information about your ability to draw targeted leads to your site.
Instead, use an attribution program to tell you whether your social media campaigns are resulting in positive leads or conversion growth.
For example, a program such as Marketo or Convertro will measure how many social interactions, web page visits or email opens it takes before one of your prospects becomes a customer.
Depending on the program, they may even assign a relative weight to each action so that you can see what kind of role every interaction played in the eventual conversion. Not only will this data tell you if your social campaigns are performing effectively, it’ll show you how to better allocate your activities and marketing resources in the future.
3. Brand sentiment
Contrary to popular wisdom, all publicity is not good publicity!
This is even more important when it comes to social media, as negative consumer sentiments can destroy your brand in very little time.
Tools such as SocialMention and Meltwater can help you measure the sentiment of the conversations surrounding your brand online, but what’s just as important is having a plan for how you’ll respond if you find that your brand’s image isn’t as pristine as you like.
To prepare for this frustrating possibility, create internal documents dictating who is responsible for responding to negative brand mentions, what your official company response will be and what types of recompense you’re willing to offer unhappy customers.
4. Inbound links
Inbound links are both essential ranking factors for Google and a good measure of your content’s overall popularity.
But rather than merely measuring any changes to your search engine result page rankings, it’s also a good idea to actively track changes in your link velocity in relation to your social media campaigns.
You may notice that the volume of inbound links to your site increases after running a contest, producing a specific piece of content or implementing some other social media marketing strategy.
If you can identify these surges and tie them to your social activities, you’ll gain insight into which of your campaigns have made the biggest difference in terms of link building and brand exposure.
5. Klout score
Klout has become a popular tool for measuring social media engagement, and it’s one you’ll want to start using right away to determine whether your marketing efforts are resulting in better brand recognition or higher perceived authority.
In 2011, Klout claimed that 100 million people used its platform, though anecdotal research suggests that few of these people actively monitor their Klout score.
Don’t be that guy!
Monitoring your Klout score will give you a good indication of how effectively you’re engaging with your social media followers, so it’s a good metric to start tracking today.
Start measuring your social media campaigns differently.
Measuring follower engagement and brand awareness is a crucial part of social media optimization.
But unfortunately, gauging the effectiveness of your social media strategy is often difficult, as this type of interpretation is highly subjective.
To measure the impact your social media campaigns are having on your brand’s performance, start by making sure you’re tracking the right metrics.
Lead growth, brand searches, brand sentiment, inbound links and Klout score are just a few of the variables that any brand concerned with its social impact should be tracking.