Social media has entered a new phase – it’s no longer a novelty where business can simply experiment and hope for the best. As the social media space matures, businesses are demanding more value for money.
At present, social media measurement is still in its infancy and strategists can’t agree on an established framework to measure its success, however, there are some approaches that can be used to help establish a framework that will work for your business.
The following three steps are a good starting place:
1. Establish your Goal
Any good marketing plan begins with established goals and this is no different with social media. Before you can measure your efforts, you need to know what your goals are. What is it that you want to accomplish through social media? Some possibilities include: reach a specific demographic, get more reviews, increase brand awareness or sell more products.
Whatever the objective, the main point is that the goals need to be very specific and clear. For example, if you want to increase brand awareness, what do you hope this increased awareness will do for your business? Break it down until it’s tangible. If there are no clear goals, it will be impossible to effectively measure what you are doing.
2. Establish your baselines
Baselines are benchmarks standards, which all metrics are measured against. In order to establish whether your goals have been achieved a starting point of information is needed that can be used to compare the data collected.
The goals will determine what you measure, and this is why set standard metrics are so challenging to determine. Each business will have different goals, and the metrics needed will be determined by the individual business using the information they have available to them.
Social media needs to be considered as a long-term prospect. Estimates suggest that you require three to six months to determine benchmarks – and skipping this stage to get to the next will leave you with flawed data.
3. Track your efforts
Once you have established all the information you need, the most important aspect is to actually track your efforts. Although you can pay for these services, there are plenty of free tools available that can be used to track progress.
Most social media platforms have free internal features that can give some insight. Here are some examples:
Facebook Insights: this tool can be accessed from the main menu when you edit any Facebook page. It can assist in tracking and analysing demographics, how users engage with specific content and much more.
WordPress Stats: if you use WordPress for your website or blog, there various plugins which can aid you to analyse your site.
Google: there are a number of tools Google provides which can be used to for analytical purposes over a range of things. Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Trends are just three available.
It’s also valuable to use more than one tool for tracking purposes, as using various tools can provide a more accurate representation of what’s happening. Also, remember to focus only on the data relevant to your goals otherwise there can be information overload.
Social media isn’t a destination, but a vehicle of communication tools. It’s important not to get overwhelmed by all the information and advice available, you need to trust your instincts, as you know your business better than any expert. A slow, methodical and disciplined approach is recommended with regular action and inroads will be made.