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Marketing Analytics: How to measure your social media

May 22, 2013

Simon Fryer
Simon
Simon is CandidSky's Search Director, with strong roots in organic SEO and analytics, and a disturbing passion for spreadsheets.

Online marketing should start and end with analytics. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, every visitor, every action, and every penny spent can be accounted for and analysed.

This is the second of a 4-part series on how to measure your online marketing efforts. We’ll post up links to the latest articles as we release them.

  1. How to measure your SEO
  2. How to measure your PPC
  3. How to measure your blogging
  4. How to measure your social media marketing

How to Measure Social Media

Like any other online marketing investment (whether it’s time or money) social media needs be be measured to gauge the return your getting and how well your strategy is working for you.

It’s quite common to judge your efforts based on the following you’ve developed; it’s a straightforward, quantitative value that’s easy to understand, whether it’s likes, followers, +1’s or connections. However, a large following isn’t necessarily your goal. What you need to know is how well you’re making that audience engage and take the action you want. This could be content shares, website visits, sign-ups or purchases.

I’m going to be covering 5 things you need to know to measure your social media

  • Growth and reach
  • Engagement
  • Brand perception & exposure
  • Social media referrals
  • Conversion rate

Growth and Reach

“The number of people connecting with your brand on social media channels”

The more people who are connected to your brand, the greater the reach of the content you’re publishing via social channels. Building a large audience isn’t your end-game, but it increases the effectiveness of any social media campaign by providing a larger audience for your content. It’s the content that needs to do the work here, to convince that audience to take action.

How to measure it

There are a number of options available, each suited to different types of businesses. for SME’s we would recommend Hootsuite as a place to start.

Engagement

The number of actions generated on social media channels”

Engagement tends to measure the response to what you’re doing. This could be in the form of shares, comments, post likes, retweets or downloads. Anything that demonstrates that your audience is actually interested in what you’re doing. If you notice that you aren’t getting good levels of engagement, perhaps you’re not communicating with the target audience in the right way. Any content which gets high levels of engagement is hitting the spot, so keep doing it!

How to measure it

Hootsuite

Brand perception and exposure

“The number of mentions of your brand on social media, and the content of mentions; whether they are positive, negative or neutral”

Building a strong audience is a great indication of how well your social media marketing is progressing, but you also need to know what those individuals are saying about you and where they are saying it. This will allow you to spot opportunities to engage prospects and customers, share the right kind of content, and effectively manage customer service issues.

How to measure it

Many CRM systems will allow you to tack your brand mentions en masse, as do the vast majority of social media management tools. Again, we would recommend Hootsuite

Social media referrals

“The number of unique visitors to your website originating from social media channels”

Whilst social media serves as a channel for customer service and engagement, it’s an important aspect of traffic generation for many businesses. If your website traffic from social media isn’t growing it’s time to take a closer look at your social media strategy to ensure that your sharing enticing content are are including all important links to your website within your posts.

How to measure it

This metric can be easily tracked using Google Analytics. You can look at your referral sources and review each individual source, and can use Custom Advanced Segments to create smart segments comprised of various social media channels.

Conversion rate

“The percentage of visitors from social media who complete a desired conversion”

Understanding your conversion rate is critical for measuring the return-on-investment from your social media reach. Comparing the conversions you generate from social media against other channels will help you assess which activities are working best for you.

How to measure it

You can measure this using Google Analytics. If you have an ecommerce website and have ecommerce tracking enabled in analytics, simply navigate to the conversions section and view ecommerce data by source/medium.

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