How can startups measure the effect of their social media influence? Everyone is chasing after higher Facebook "Likes" and more followers on Twitter -- does it work? How can they ensure that the time spent on developing these platforms is having an effect on their bottom line?
Likes and followers are irrelevant. These can be bought cheap off the internet. Short term, it helps with your SEO. It can help drive traffic to your site. Long term, it negates itself. People who find your site and gain nothing from the experience -- it's going to take a lot more to get them to visit again. It's like Google+ in the early days. You waited weeks to get your invite, and soon as you get one, nobody's there.
I've seen like pages on facebook that had 3,000 likes but there wasn't a lot of interaction happening in that page. It's like having friends over to your house for dinner. I would rather have a few friends with me for dinner and have a great time with them.
So how do you measure how your SMM (Social Media Marketing) campaign is doing?
To answer this question, I ask: What were your goals?
Ultimately, the goal is to increase profitability. SMM has an indirect effect on bottom line. You are not going to see a 1:1 return on your investment with SMM. This is a long term investment that will pay for itself over time.
For me, the goals of SMM are these -- influence perception, optimize communications & engage target audience. How do you measure these?
Let's use an example to illustrate my point.
I have a website that sells running shoes. This site is different from everyone else. We cater mostly to overweight runners.
My goal in using SMM is to influence perception, optimize communications and engage target audience. Using site analytics, I would look for the following:
- where is traffic coming from?
- which part/s of my website got the most visits?
- how long were they on my site?
- what else did they do while on my website?
Outside of site analytics, I will do a search for keywords that are relevant to my site. What I am looking for are mentions inside social networks.
More importantly -- how are my interactions with the community? Was I able to provide a solution to their problems? In a community forum, I would encourage people to IM (send message) me if they wanted help with something. That inbox will also be part of what I will measure. This ties up with one of the three goals of SMM -- influence perception.
These are the metrics that I'd check from time to time with a SMM campaign. Your campaign could be different from mine. If so, your campaign will have different factors that need monitoring.