I have read one too many articles lately that claim you just cannot measure success on social media, at least not yet, but rather it's more about awareness, engaging loyal fans and customers, creating goodwill, etc. While, yes, social media is about that, it's also about RESULTS and yes you can measure that and I'll tell you how today!
At Step Ahead, after spending the last four years managing a variety of clients' social media accounts, we've developed a formula that we know generates results beyond the intangible results listed above. Here's our formula:
RIGHT PEOPLE + RIGHT TIME + RIGHT TOOLS + RIGHT MESSAGE = SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS
But HOW do you measure if that formula works?
What to Measure
First off decide what you want to measure. Here are some of the most common concrete results social media can generate:
- Increased web traffic - to your site overall or to specific pages.
- Sales! Yes, you absolutely can generate sales by following our formula.
- Filling out a form for more information - maybe this is a Contact Us form, maybe it's a request for a proposal, maybe it's for a free analysis.
- Complaints resolved - track how many customer service issues you were able to solve using social media. I can tell you it's pretty significant for Comcast & AT&T - much more so via social media, than probably by phone.
- Email addresses collected - You can design promotions on social media to capture email addresses and allow people to opt in to receive your email newsletters or eblasts.
I don't know about you, but if I can show my client or my boss that I generated significant revenue for them via social media, I think I can lobby for an increased social media budget. So tracking is critical.
Tools for tracking
To accurately measure social media success, you need several tools in your arsenal.
- A URL tracker - We use BudURL but there are others like Bitly, etc. Create a unique URL for each link you post via social media and track how many times people click on the link. This is especially important for Twitter, because many people use desktop applications that will not show as referrals links with your analytics program. So to accurately count Twitter clicks, you must use a URL tracker.
- Analytics - We always use Google Analytics. It's free, easy to use and allows you to track what sites people come to your website from, what pages they go to, how long they stay and if that's longer than average for the site, where they're located, etc. Be sure analytics is not just on your website but your blog as well.
- Tracking Revenue & Goals in Analytics - The biggest component of Google Analytics is it allows you to track REVENUE from referral sites. That's right! Set up properly, you can see how much revenue Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. are bringing you. Additionally, you can set up goals, such as filling out a specific form, and again track which referrals sites brought you the most people who completed your goals. Wouldn't it be great to be able to say to your boss: People who came to our site from Twitter, stayed longer than the average site visitor and bought more than the average site visitor!?
- Google URL Builder - A great tool that ties right into Google Analytics is Google URL builder, which allows you to create campaigns within analytics. So for every URL we post on social media, we start with a Google URL, name the campaign and medium for whichever social media tool we are posting the link to, and then go and put that URL into BudURL. Now when we go to analytics, we can look up "Facebook" as a traffic source and see exactly how many people clicked through to our link, as well as track clicks through BudURL.
- Facebook & YouTube Insights - These are both great tools at giving you more of a breakdown of engagement, demographics and even what sites are bringing visitors to your Facebook page.
- Manual - Some things you have to track manually like emails collected and complaints resolved, but just keep a running Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet and add in every email you collect (or use an automated system) and note each time you solved a customer service issue or received a request for more information.
Do you track social media success? We do! And we've found in one case $14,000 in revenue in one month directly trackable to Facebook for one client. Amazing. Yes, you CAN track results from social media and you should. Now, go get started :).