The Four Steps of Measuring Social Media For Your Business

Ifdy Perez is a social media strategist with a specialty in community building.

As a community manager, more often than not, you may find yourself defending your tactics (or job) to colleagues or even your directors. Social is still new to many, and it doesn’t help that the nature of the beast is ever changing and growing. In a sense, the “experts” are still learning.

But there is something about social that is our friend, and its name is ROI, a.k.a. Metrics.

(Did I just put you to sleep?)

Why Social Metrics Are Important

Measuring what we get out of our social efforts can be tricky, but at the end of the day, it’s a savior. Metrics won’t let you go into circles; instead it’ll help you become laser-focused in your strategy, save time and effort, and give your bosses something to talk about. It’ll help you learn so much about your audience—like what strategies work and don’t work, how to talk to them, etc.—and about your brand—such as how you want to be perceived vs. how you are perceived.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Metrics can tell you almost everything about anything. That’s why the hardest part about measuring your social media’s ROI is getting over the first hurdle: understanding what you’re looking for. After that, you’ll be able to set metrics, track, and adapt.

#1: Understand What You’re Looking For

This is the reason why there’s no effective cookie-cutter metrics template that works across all businesses and organizations. Social media metrics are personal, and that’s the way you want it. You don’t want to spend time tracking data that’s irrelevant to you.

So start by asking this question: “Why are we on social media?”

Are you looking for more customers? Ultimately, the answer is (hopefully) yes. But let’s get a little more granular. Are you also looking for input from the audience about your product? Or do you want to acquire more email addresses? Do you want to influence the way your brand is perceived online? Or are you seeking more impressions?

The more specific you can be with this question, the better. Aside from learning more about your social media strategy’s purpose, finding the answers to this question will help you identify realistic goals you can measure.

#2: Set Reasonable Metrics

You want to avoid getting yourself overwhelmed with a ton of data coming back at you, so if you first create a short list of goals, you’ll find yourself discovering new things about your strategy that will help shape your path.

Begin by finding a way to collect the information that will help answer the goals you just identified. There are plenty of tools out there to help you make sense of what’s going on in your social media channels.

Facebook has it’s own analytics built into every business page; take advantage of the data it gives you on its dashboard, but also become familiar with the exported spreadsheets. The data in these spreadsheets go pretty deep (more than you’d want to know), but they’ll give you specific information about the behavior of your fans—which posts caught most of your fans’ attention, how many impressions that caused, how many new fans you acquired, etc.

Many third party clients offer ways to measure your strategy on Twitter for free, and for your blog or website, you can’t deny the power of Google Analytics to tell you what you need to know.

Again, these tools will help you gather the information you need, but go in knowing what it is you’re looking for, so you don’t get lost in the data abyss.

#3: Track and Adapt

You’ve set your goals, and identified easy-to-follow metrics. Now it’s time to put this baby into gear, and start tracking.

Monitor how every post performs. Watch the interaction you get an hour after publishing, at the end of the day, 24 hours after posting, etc. Take note of these, and start making sense out of the numbers you gather. Are you seeing any patterns? Do 9AM posts do better than 11AM ones? Are links getting less engagement than photos? What kinds of questions tend to get feedback?

Having a social calendar will help you keep track of everything, and adapt quickly. If today’s topic was pretty unpopular, you may not want to post about it again tomorrow. But if yesterday’s photo did well on Facebook, try posting another photo today to see if you can keep up the talk.

#4: Rinse and Repeat

This is the step that will help you grow. Sooner rather than later, your goals may become outdated—which is a good thing! You may surpass them, or not reach them, or find that they’re not taking you in the right direction. Whatever the reason may be, always check to see where you’re at with your goals. And if you need to redefine them, do so.

All of these items will help you—the community manager—create a social strategy that helps you and your business perform better. And what CEO doesn’t want that?!

For more social media marketing advice from Ifdy Perez on the Vocus Blog, click here.

Image: Randomskk (Creative Commons)

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