In order to promote your brand and build a vibrant online community, you have a branded Facebook page, Twitter page, YouTube channel, Pinterest profile, StumbleUpon, and blog. You post content and photos several days per week, use hashtags, make videos, and engage with followers. Now it's time to figure out if it's all working.
The world of analytics can be overwhelming, especially if it isn't your everyday wheelhouse. And, with all of the statistics available, it can be difficult to distill what is most important and useful. It can also be out of budget for many businesses to employ an expert or any of the robust reporting tools that are available.
There are a lot of elements of social media that many find vague when it comes to applying it to ROI. Some of this is simply because the inherent nature of social media is intuitive and reactive, and it is always going to be a challenge to quantify an organic success with an equation. It is tremendously difficult to predict what people will like, but, learning as we go with our fan base, there are insights that will give you a better idea of the type of fans you have and what appeals to them.
To get a handle on what's working within social initiatives, there are six metrics that will help you the most. Here they are.
Referring site traffic
The first thing to pay attention to when tracking your social media activities is the referring site traffic. This will tell you whether site visitors are coming from your social properties and, if so, where on your social properties they are coming from. It can also tell you if your traffic is coming from some other link from a blog or anywhere else.
The information can shed light on what kinds of activities, posts, or promotions get people excited and interested in your brand. Maybe the answer is photo albums, or maybe the answer is contests. Take the "maybe" out and see what made your fans click from a social site to your website.
The next key indicator to watch is the data showing which pages within your website are garnering the visits once they arrive there. It's one thing to know that 200 people visited your website; it is much more helpful to know that of those 200, 150 spent time on the product information page, while only 25 visited the About Us page. Of course, if that was reversed and only 25 viewed the product information and 150 read the About Us page, that says something very different about what visitors respond to and how you are marketing your company.
To take it one step further, factor in what was learned from the referring site traffic data. You can actually see if the social post or promotion is driving traffic where you had intended.
In the administrative panel of a Facebook brand page, there are a variety of insights to reference. The key here is often not in a single number. It will depend on the goal. If the goal is to simply serve a post to 1,000 people and you can see the number reached is at least 1,000, well then -- goal achieved. It doesn't say much, though, until the number of people reached is compared to how many of those were reached naturally versus through paid attempts.
It is also helpful to compare the number of fans reached directly with those reached through another type of post. If a photo of a birthday cake reaches a few hundred organically and receives "likes" and shares, while a promoted post (i.e., paid for) linking to an article reaches a thousand, then you need to decide what makes one more successful than the other. If the promoted post does not receive as many "likes" and shares, then it's not only less popular inherently, but you've also spent money on it.
It is becoming clear that social media analytics are not always as simple as ROI and KPIs, but they are most useful in deciphering what it is about marketing through this media that draws attention and whose attention it draws. YouTube is another place where this holds true. Videos are wildly popular in general, and if you make a great video that goes viral, it's pretty exciting. But for all of the videos that aren't viewed a million times, you might not know what analytics matter most.
There are YouTube statistics for demographics, but it's hard to say how accurate the information is considering a large number of viewers are not logged in with available data. A very useful insight in YouTube is the audience retention graph. It will not matter how informative or entertaining your video is if viewers are not watching it. More specifically, it doesn't matter if you offer the best advice ever two minutes into the video if viewers bounce after thirty seconds. If you know that's the case, you could potentially offer your fantastic information in a much shorter piece and potentially get many more views, with people seeking you out repeatedly and in other places like Facebook or, hopefully, your own website.
As far as Pinterest goes, some of the most useful information comes in the form of referring pins. These are the pins that users click on to be taken to the source -- your website. If you are already a Pinterest aficionado, then you know that pins are the items within groups referred to as "boards."
A wildly popular pin could potentially be pinned onto each one of your boards to gain even more referral traffic since not every visitor looks at each board. This is most effective for brands that have numerous boards and a wide variety of boards and pins. It's best to maintain a variety of relevant content, but if a particular item proves to be popular, then you should get creative about working it into more than one category. If you change the description a little bit, you'll even give yourself a little SEO boost and make the content more discoverable. However, be cognizant that repeating yourself all over the place will appear spam-like.
Information about your advocates
This "metric" doesn't require a lot of numbers or analysis: Simply find out who your advocates are. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to gain new business and fans because of the inherent credibility that it has. Building relationships with advocates is really as simple as interacting with them. And don't just engage when they speak to you. It is flattering to people in general to be remembered, so occasionally starting a conversation with an advocate will get good feedback. An engaged advocate will increase your reach data by naturally spreading the word that your company is exceptional.
There is great diversity and depth available now through social analytics, so much so that many companies have full-time employees to manage the tools and software surrounding them and decipher the data into useful, actionable information. Some use Google Analytics, Adobe Omniture, Radian6, Webtrends, or proprietary software (in the case of my company, ROSI trax). This kind of reporting isn't always necessary or even available to everyone depending on budget and time constraints. But taking a look at some of the data to make comparisons will ultimately deliver much of the information that is so insightful when it comes to running a social media campaign or leading an everyday social media strategy.