As we jump into the New Year (btw – Happy New Year), there will be a lot of resolutions made, and broken. Among these, no doubt, will be marketers committing themselves to greater social media engagements, leveraging twitter and facebook and really developing their social strategy. By now most companies (should) have some level of social media developed. In many cases the next step is about the level of quality social engagement and the achievement of company goals.
Now, the obligatory statements:
Your social media program must be based on a plan that helps the company achieve its goals.
You need KPIs in place to measure your progress to those goals.
Before you start (or re-commit), be sure you align the necessary resources .
Above, I mention KPIs; there are some common KPIs that are used. However, most of these don’t deal directly with a company’s goals. Number of mentions, comments, Likes, shares, re-tweets, etc don’t really connect to company specific goals. So, while using these as front end indicators, you should develop KPIs against company goals. These are more difficult to be sure. But, I have seen companies (directly) tie social media to sales and customer service metrics.
Gone are the days of “social media can’t be measured like advertising.” It can. The question is, do you want to put the resources into to doing it? It turns out that it is a bit time consuming, requires planning and commitment, but it is entirely within your grasp.
Companies like Zagg can tell you exactly the number of sales they get from social media, and holds social media to target metrics.
Red Roof Inn connects social media directly to the customer service center, allowing the customer care experts actually take care of the customers.
eBay develops custom community content to increase traffic and activity around niche product areas to drive sales.
Start by changing the mindset. You Can Track It. (repeat this until you believe it). I don’t know where the notion that you cannot track the impact of social media started; perhaps from some very cautious trail blazers who knew it takes time, and it does.
Tracking requires commitment (perhaps this is where the “cannot track” started – knowing there would be no commitment to putting in the resources in place to track it.)
There are a few basic steps that can get a company started. From there, it depends on your goals (if you don’t like “blank canvas” work, this in not the area for you).
Set up a message tracking database (or spreadsheet if need be). Some of the social media tools make this a bit easier, but for good analysis, I’d take it off-line as well. As part of the data, collect all the relevant front end metrics – message time / day, length, content type, tone, landing page (if there is one), and the platform metrics – Likes, Share, Comments, re-tweets, responses.
Every link should be uniquely tagged and tracked just like any other advertising. Some companies like Zagg have a custom, in house tool to create branded short URLs. However you need to do it, do it.
Based on your company’s target KPI’s, track your social media links, their associated messages and the success.
This is where the fun begins. You may find that the front end KPI’s correlate to your back end KPIs. However, dig more deeply, and you can find nuggets. For instance, according to BuddyMedia’s “Strategies For Effective Facebook Wall Posts: A Statistical Review”, the aggregate best days to post are Thursday and Friday. However, this varies greatly by industry. Entertainment is better on Sunday, Business & Finance is better on Wednesday, and Food and Beverage is better on Tuesday. The gold is in the detail.
The trick is determining how this relates to your company. Perhaps front end KPIs don’t tie directly to you back end success KPIs. Perhaps certain types of content drive higher quality engagements.
By using some of the tracking tools you already have in place, and overlaying social media messaging information, you can actually keep at least one of your New Year’s Resolutions.