3. Track how social networking impacts other channels
Tracking the number of daily users is a no-brainer, but mapping in-network interaction to external behaviors becomes much harder. There are, however, a few ways to skin the cat, given creativity and tenacity. If a brand creates its own social network, using a pre-existing platform such as Ning, in conjunction with metrics tools, it's possible to track entry and exit points on the site. If a clear destination has been identified as a project goal, it's possible to drive the user there and track the volume. If a social networking campaign launches, look outside the web to see if there is a correlation between sales and the viral growth on the networks. Bacon Salt, a purveyor of foods, launched on Facebook and MySpace. Within a few days, it had sold out of product.
Social networking is more than just a profile page on Facebook. The power of the consumer's voice can be harnessed in multiple ways, to serve many goals. The information can be incredibly valuable to judge the value of content, track user opinion, and propagate a brand message.
But in order to demonstrate success, the savvy brand marketer will create a thorough metrics campaign to measure the effort. The first key step is to identify what success means, and then understand how it can be tracked successfully.
Take advantage of the tools provided by the networks that are out there, see how the brand is fairing, and what can be done to get involved with the conversation. Try to track how the social networking campaign impacts other channels. Even if the numbers are not rock solid, there can be definite trends.