Make no mistake, we’re well past the point where social media marketing is optional–despite what some of our clients and bosses say.
The most recent evidence for this comes from The Society for New Communications Research, whose recent report notes that fifty-seven percent of this group of early social media adopters reported that social media tools are becoming more valuable to their activities. (The report is definitely worth a read.)
One major problem, however, is that the Internet marketing business hasn’t developed a standard way of measuring social media marketing performance which is accepted by its own top honchos (much less clients). So it’s time to pick some standards of our own.
The following is my attempt to come up with some principles, and specific metrics, we can use to decide whether our social media efforts are working to promote. I look forward to your suggestions! – Anne
Social media measurement standards
* Length of stay for visitors referred by social media
Visitors who come to your site through social media promotions may have a different profile than those who arrive through other means. I believe it’s important to find out how they differ from site averages, particularly in terms of length of stay (as a proxy for their level of interest).
* Number of followers/fans on various networks
I sort of dislike this one, as you can have tons of lurkers clicking through on your Facebook fan page or Ning group, while not having too many who agree to sign up. Still, it’s worth taking into account, not as a sign of whether you’re successful but a sense of how given community’s reacting to your message.
* Number of comments/questions made directly to the company rep doing the social media marketing
OK, if social media marketing involves talking with, not at, the audiences you’re hoping to reach, that involves joining a community. One very crude way of looking whether people see you as a member is how many comments and questions they’ve made addressing you.
* Extent to which your social media efforts have brought new assets into your business
If social media marketing is more joining a community (e.g. networking) than making a pitch, then such networking should bear fruit. In one project, for example, I found several potential business partners and a freelance contributor within a couple of weeks of putting it out there.
* Extent to which you’ve concretely raised awareness of your service/product within the community
If you’re on a social networking site, and you see someone say “I know about X because the company’s rep told me so directly on Twitter,” you’re definitely on the right track. You can be pretty confident that someone will visit your site and, if it’s otherwise in good shape, convert into a dedicated customer.
* Frequency with which your brand is mentioned on key sites
As with the number of followers/fans you attract, this is a very tricky way to measure the effectiveness as your marketing, as there’s a million offline methods by which people can discuss your site. Still, keeping track of comments (using, say, TweetScan for Twitter or general search for MySpace and Facebook) certainly offers useful context.
Next: Get more simple, powerful approaches to measuring social media here.
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