With all the good press it’s been getting lately, you’d think that social media was a gift from the internet marketing gods. Want to expand your brand’s reach online? Social media’s got you covered. Want to connect with thousands of potential customers for free? Social media, for the win!
But while social media marketing has its place, it’s not something that you should go all-in on without having a definite system in place for measuring its return on investment (ROI). Even though sites like Facebook and Twitter are free to join, you’re still investing your time in maintaining your presence on these sites, and it’s important to be sure you’re exchanging your time for some sort of value.
So, as you might expect, the first step in measuring the ROI of your social media campaigns is to determine what you want to get out of these sites. Are you investing time in social networking simply to increase brand awareness? That’s fine, but you need to have some measure in place to determine whether or not your efforts are succeeding. Similarly, if you’re actively engaging in social media to drive traffic to your site, you’ll want to ensure you have a way to track whether or not your investment is resulting in sales.
If you’re only engaging in social media marketing because some “guru” blog tells you that you should, it’s time to take a step back and figure out what it is you’re hoping to achieve on these sites.
Let’s say your only goal with social media marketing is to build awareness for your brand online. That’s a very valid goal, especially if you’ve recently started a new company or website and are trying to gain traction in your marketplace. However, it’s important to realize that although the term “brand awareness” can be somewhat nebulous, there are ways to measure your expanding influence that you should integrate into your business model.
For starters, here’s what you shouldn’t measure – the number of “friends” you have on any given social networking site (unless you’ve conclusively proven that an increase in social media contacts correlates to an increase in sales, which we’ll get into later in this article).
While having a large number of friends on Facebook or Twitter can be a good sign, the number alone doesn’t tell us anything about the people who are following you. Are they fans who actively engage with the content you produce, or are they simply people who added you as an afterthought and have no intention of following through on any of your calls to action? Unfortunately, it’s impossible to measure the caliber of these connections by numbers alone.
Instead, what we need is a way to determine how many people we’re reaching with our campaigns. Consider the following two metrics to track whether or not your brand’s influence is growing online as a result of your social media involvement: