“What's the ROI of your mother?” Ah yes, the famous "You can't measure the ROI of social media" answer from Gary Vaynerchuk.
It is appealing to believe this. If it's true, you don't need to answer to anyone for your success or lack thereof, on social media. But, we think this is a smokescreen and a lazy answer to the question, "How do I know if my social media marketing is working?"
The truth is, it's not so different from measuring the success of any other marketing effort. I'll grant you that some of the "soft" benefits, such as brand awareness and the indirect influence of social media interactions and presence on sales can be difficult to measure, but there are several social media success indicators to watch.
And, while social media is not (and never was) a numbers game, there are still some numbers to watch and trends to observe. Starting with:
- How large your audience is,
- How fast it is growing,
- How much traffic social media efforts drives, and, most importantly,
- How many leads or customers are generated by that traffic.
1. Measuring Social Audience Growth and Reach
Get a baseline of the number of Facebook “Likes,” Twitter followers, LinkedIn Group members, blog subscribers, YouTube channel subscribers, etc. you have. Over time, watch for a steady increase in the numbers. But don't get too hung up on it, your ultimate goal isn't to improve these "vanity" numbers, but to get your audience to share your content, visit your website, become a lead and then a customer.
How to Improve
Reapeat after me: "It’s better to have 25 fans who take action than 25,000 who ignore you." OK, that said, there are some simple ways you can increase your fan and follower counts, thus getting your message to more people:
- Link to your social platforms in your email signature.
- Use widgets supplied by the social networks to make it easy for people to find and follow you right from your website.
- Use website plugins to make it easy for people to share content from your site to social networks.
- Post great stuff!
- Especially when you are just getting started, go ahead and ask friends, family, employees and others to like or follow you if they're interested. Just ask once, and nicely.
- Consider running some ads to let people know you have arrived.
2. Watch Social Media Engagement
Engagement is simply a measure of how much people are interacting with your social media accounts. For example:
- Facebook status likes, comments and shares.
- Twitter replies and retweets.
- Blog post comments.
- YouTube video views.
- Pinterest repins and likes.
- Google+ +1s, shares and comments.
Look for increasing engagement over time. Keep up with news and trends in social media, so when, for example, your Facebook activity takes a nosedive, you'll know it's not just you!
How to Improve
When you see engagement on a certain update, take note (mentally or otherwise!) of the subject and type of content that got people talking (was it an image, a link, a video?). Keep doing that!
If you're not getting much (or any) engagement, it could be that you are not addressing the concerns of your fans. You can try the direct approach - ask them right out what their biggest ________ challenge is today, or what they're working on today. You can also search Twitter for "how do I _______" where the blank is related to your industry, product or service. This way you'll see exactly what people are looking for help with. You can also use the old Google auto-fill trick - start typing in a search such as, "direct mail how to" and see what questions are being asked about your business.
Now, go create content (blog posts, ebooks, etc.) that answer those questions and share them to social media!
3. Visibility and Brand Perception
Increasing online visibility and a more fully developed reputation are greatly enhanced by an effective social media presence. What are people saying about you on social media? Not just on your pages and profiles, but all over? Do you know?
Keep track of social mentions by watching for comments and mentions and by using tools such as Mention, Social Searcher or Google Alerts (which catches non-social mentions, too) to catch those you could miss. No mentions yet? Don't worry - just keep at it!
When you see some, look for content or items that produced the most buzz, and watch for customer service issues that may surface in customer comments online.
How to Improve
Respond to those talking about you whenever possible, whether they are saying nice things or not. If certain topics resurface again and again (in a good way) maybe you have found your niche. Consider focusing more of your time and marketing on whatever is causing the buzz.
If your search reveals some negative talk, respond wherever you can and make changes in your business as a whole to address the root cause of the issues.
4. Track Website Traffic from Social Media
How many people are visiting your site from social media channels? Tell me you know! The simplest way to measure this is to use the HubSpot sources report. But, you can also use Google Analytics and look at Acquisition > Social > Overview.
Traffic from social media sources should rise over time. Keep an eye on which platforms are performing well, and consider shifting more effort and resources there.
How to Improve
You'll only get visits from social media to your website if 1. your profiles are complete and include your site's URL and 2. You share links from social back to your great content.
Use great visuals. Become a better writer. Entice people to visit your site with your brilliant update copy and graphics.
5. Conversion Rate from Social Media Visits
This is the percentage of website visitors who become leads on your website. Now we're getting in to the kind of results that really, really matter! The easiest way to measure this is to use your HubSpot sources report, though it is possible to set up conversion or goal tracking from Google Analytics to track this.
Over time, your conversion rate from social visitors should go up. This is because you'll get to know your audience better and what works to draw them in.
How to Improve
Make sure your landing pages are brilliantly written and optimized for the best conversion rate possible. Because you'll often be sharing blog posts on social media, make sure every single blog post includes a way for people to become a lead. That means including at least one exceptional call to action on each post.
Do not skimp here. Expecting conversions from social traffic when it's impossible to find a landing page, or when they are terribly written is simply not reasonable and when that fails, it has nothing to do with whether your social media marketing is being carried out effectively!
6. New Customers From Social Media
This one is, admittedly, very tricky to track. A customer who calls for a free consultation could well have heard of you on LinkedIn, repinned some of your images on Pinterest and even Tweeted with you. But, ask them where they heard of you (you do, right?) and they may well say they Googled you, or they don't remember.
You can catch more of these social media assists by using a trackable phone number on all your social media profiles and ONLY there. Still, some will slip through the cracks and appear to come in from other sources, and that's OK. As long as you're getting new customers, that's what counts, right?
If you're using HubSpot and have a closed-loop sales and reporting process, you'll have a much better chance of knowing exactly from where you new customers originated.
How to Improve
This really comes down to your overall inbound strategy. Good content, excellent landing pages, lead nurturing programs and lead scoring will all assist in turning those leads from social media into customers. Of course, your activity ON social media an also go a long way in nurturing those leads. For example, if someone hits a certain high lead score, you could look at your "hot leads" Twitter list in HubSpot and engage with them there. Answer their questions or just be friendly. It all serves to keep you top-of-mind when they're ready to make a decision.
So, what do you think? Is your social media working? If not, let us know - we'd love to help!