Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Google +, tweets, likes, shares, retweets, mentions,..??@?!!% >: ( Is it hype? Is our business social enough? Does it matter? Should we twitter, tweet…?&? Am I saying it right? Does our business have enough friends on Facebook? Did you notice how many of my “friends” are really sexy? Do I look popular? No wait, that’s my personal account… Do I care? Does it matter if I don’t know 70% of them?
I already wear the “HR Hat”, “Customer Service Hat”, “Accounting & Payroll Hat”, “Marketing Hat”, “Sales Hat” and now you want me to wear the “Social Media Hat”. Is this all bull$)!t or will it really help my small business make money? Are you ready to stick a spoon in your eye yet?
Communication & Relationships have Evolved
The landscape for small business has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Most notably, our communication and relationships have evolved. Cell phones, the internet, and technology in general have opened the lines of communication, enabled sharing, increased transparency, and increased the speed and velocity of everything we do.
How does Social Media fit into my Business
Social media and content marketing (blog) can help to increase brand awareness. The right strategy can allow you to reach out and engage with people who are interested or searching for your products or services. Social media can act a barometer of customer interest and act as a customer care channel.
However it can be difficult to measure exactly what social media is doing for your business. Like all other facets of your business, social media needs to prove its usefulness to a business, but where to begin?
Different Strategies for Different Industries
Your social media strategy will vary depending on the type of industry that you are in. A dentist, doctor or legal professional should have a different social strategy than a restaurant, hotel, or coffee shop. The tools or social mediums employed may also vary by industry. While Foursquare, Yelp & Twitter may be successful for a restaurant and coffee shop, a Law Firm or Dentist may find those same mediums less effective than Facebook, Linked-in and a company Blog.
Ultimately, the purpose or goal is to increase brand awareness and engage with current or potential customers using social media tools/strategies that are cost effective and beneficial to the business.
What should you be monitoring
When you look at any key performance indicators (KPI’s) or any kind of metrics, you have to know which questions you want answered. Each metric can answer a different question, and looking at a combination of metrics helps to give a fuller view of how your social media campaign is performing:
Traffic & Conversions from social media sites
The source and amount of traffic generated by social media is one of the easiest metrics to measure. Analytics packages allow you to filter by traffic sources, so you can see how many users come from which social media sites. You can also see whether or not that traffic goes on to convert – e.g. purchasing something, signing up for a newsletter etc.
Every small business should have analytics on their website. Google Analytics is sufficient for the majority of SMB’s. GA is free, relatively simple to install and can provide deep insights with little to no training. You can sign up for Google Analytics and it is simple to follow the Set up Checklist. (Call my office if you are having difficulty installing it on your site, and we will walk you through the process – no charge. Look mom, good deed this week.)
Social Media Traffic Analysis
Lets take a look at our social traffic and conversions now that we have Google Analytics on our site. Here is data for a small business with 1783 visits. On average, visitors are on the site for over four minutes (4:07 ) and view 2.14 pages, with a 61 % bounce rate. (Bounce rate repents the percentage of visitors that quickly leave or close the page). Notice however, that the visitors that are socially engaged spent an average of seventeen minutes (17:40) on the site viewing more than 4 pages per visit with 0% bounce rate. 4 times longer on the site, viewing double the pages and 0 bounces! I think Charlie Sheen would call that “Winning”.
Below we can see that Twitter traffic (t.co/referral) accounted for 146 visits, averaging 2 mins 41 seconds viewing 1.84 pages per visit. Stumble traffic (stumbleupon.com/referral) accounted for 63 visits, averaging only 13 seconds viewing 1.37 pages per visit.
Traffic from email campaigns accounted for 37 visits, averaging 10 mins 11 seconds viewing 4.30 pages per visit. Facebook traffic accounted for 27 visits, averaging 3 mins 2 seconds viewing 1.44 pages per visit. Linked-in traffic accounted for 7 visits, averaging only 23 seconds viewing 2.43 pages per visit.
A small business owner with no experience in Google Analytics can see that my email campaigns and Google + campaigns/referrals sent the most engaged traffic while Stumbleupon and Linked-in need some work or maybe no attention at all. Now I can look at the content that was shared on Google + and the email campaigns to gain insight about which content or topics my customers or leads find interesting and engaging.
Spending time each month to evaluate the data will soon reveal which social media sources send engaged traffic. Further evaluation and testing will reveal what types of content, messages, or offers work as well.
Goals & Funnel Visualization Report
Google Analytics allows you to create path analysis using a Goal Funnel Visualization Report. The process of configuring the goals for your website and setting up or defining a funnel for your goals is a topic for another day.
A ‘funnel’ is a series of pages through which a visitor must pass before reaching the goal conversion. The name comes from a graph of visitors who reach each page – the first page counts the most visitors, and each successive page shows less visitors as they drop off before reaching the final goal.
The purpose of tracking these pages is to see how efficiently your pages direct visitors to your goal. If any of the funnel pages are overly complicated, or not designed to be user-friendly, then you will see significant drop off and lower conversion rates. You can track drop-off rates on pages leading to a goal using the Funnel Visualization report in the Goals section.
The purpose for covering social media traffic and conversions inside of Google Analytics is to show how a small business can monitor and measure the effectiveness of Social Media. Set up is relatively simple. I find the most difficult challenge for most SMB’s is taking the first step.
Fan or follower numbers
Most social media sites will only track the total number of fans or followers you have, so you will need a third-party tool to track when people have joined or left. Lets take a look at some free software tools that can help you monitor your social media efforts.
TweetDeck by Twitter is an app that brings more flexibility and insight to power users. Manage all of your social network accounts in TweetDeck. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, & Linked-in.
Track your friends and see any Mentions about you.
See your Direct Messages and whats trending Worldwide. The notifications window shows the latest activity, messages, & mentions by those you are following or your followers.
Crowdbooster is another tool that allows you to measure and optimize your social media marketing. The content scheduler allows you to customize your posts and tweets and schedule them to be sent at the most effective time. Quickly identify your most effective messages – drill down to see the impact of each Tweet and Facebook post.
Crowbooster offers recommendations about who you should engage with and how to improve the content and timing for your messages.
Track your follower growth.
You can also track which followers are sharing or retweeting what you share.
Hootsuite is a Social Media Dashboard that allows you to manage and measure your social networks. Manage multiple social profiles including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google +, and Linked-in. Schedule messages and tweets. Track brand mentions. Analyze social media traffic.
Hootsuite is similar to TweetDeck offering similar functionality. Hootsuite offers free and a Pro Version for $5.99 MO with additional features and integration.
Other Social Media Tools & Insight
Topsy offers real-time search for the social web. Lets do a search for “Everything” for milkmen.com over the past 30 days
Or we can do a search for all Links to milkmen.com. We can see how many have tweeted about milkmen.com. You can also check what has been shared on Google +
Timely helps you schedule tweets for maximum impact. Add your tweets to Timely to have them published when they’ll have the highest impact. You get more retweets, mentions and followers! Timely analyzes your past 199 tweets and figure out the best time slots. Then uses that info to auto-schedule your tweets and learn as your followers grow. I use Timely to distribute new posts from my blog. I also use Timely to share the other articles I have found on the web.
Share valuable content to help your customers or potential customers find solutions or learn more about your industry. Soon they will see you as a valued resource for relevant information.
Install the Timely Bookmark on the search bar and allow access to your Twitter account . Find an article you want to share and select the Timely Bookmark. You will be prompted to select which accounts will share the article. You can also choose to post the article now or place it in the Que and Timely will share it later when it could have a more ideal impact for readers.
You can login to see the articles in Que, modify or delete them.
You can visit your Timely account at a later time to see the analytics on your shares, how many clicks, and how many retweeted what you shared. This can help you understand which followers share your information so that you can thank them or engage with them further. It will also help you see the type of content people find interesting and what content fails to grab attention.
Klout measures influence online. Our friendships and professional connections have moved online, making influence measurable for the first time in history. When you recommend, share, and create content you impact others. Your Klout Score measures that influence on a scale of 1 to 100.
Klout will show who you are influenced by or influence on. It will also show you that information about your followers. It will also show in which topics you are influential. You can find out your true reach, amplification, and network impact.
You & your followers will also be assigned a Klout style. I bounce between “Conversationalist” & “Explorer”. When I grow up I want to be a “Broadcaster” like Matt McGee or a “Pundit” like Rand Fishkin.
Follerwonk allows you to Search on any profile data: bio, location, name, and url. Or sort/filter by relevance, followers, tweets. You can also overlay your social graph to see relationship status.
Conversation participation metrics attempt to quantify how people are interacting with your social media campaigns. These metrics will largely include things like comments or likes on a Facebook post or responding to a tweet. The tools that I have mentioned should help you track and measure the level of involvement in your social efforts.
Social reach performance
This looks at whether or not people are sharing your content by retweeting or writing a blog post about your social media content. Use the tools mentioned to gage your social reach. For example, one of your followers (who has 20,ooo followers) retweets or mentions your company or post on your blog.
What does Success look like
A lot of companies don’t set the right kind of targets for their social media activity, which makes it really difficult for them to measure success or spot opportunities for improvement. Setting targets for metrics like traffic, conversation participation and the number of fans or followers you have is a great starting point.
With these targets in place it’s going to be a lot easier to track what actually works. Not everything you do in social media will be a run-away success, but over time you will be able to build a successful strategy based around the activities that had a positive effect on your metrics.
This can also be applied to the social networks you participate in. If you have well defined metrics, it’s going to be a lot easier to spot which social networks are working for you and which ones are just draining your resources and offering very little ROI.
The benefits of social media typically fall into one of two buckets: making money or saving money.
- Generating sales
- Increasing brand awareness
- Generating new product ideas
- Increasing customer loyalty
- Increasing purchase rate
- Reducing customer service time
- Increasing awareness of product issues or improvements
- Reducing customer churn
- Identifying customer issues with product/services
- Reducing push marketing spend
Goal Setting Tips
Increasing your followers unreliable indicator of success. Everyday I have new followers. I don’t blindly follow everyone back. I want to connect with others that are interested in similar topics and industries. I want to connect with those adding value to the web or looking for value in the products/services that I share or have expertise in.
I see many users with 10k – 40k people following them but only have 10o tweets. They have no intention of reading my posts or tweets, let alone share them. If I don’t follow back within 1 day they drop me. They are looking to increase their network to have some false sense of validation. Set reasonable targets to increase these numbers but remember engagement (i.e. conversation participation and sharing) is more important.
Conversation participation and sharing
Judging whether or not your followers are engaging in a ‘good’ amount of conversation and sharing is relative, and it can always be improved. Set targets to increase your posts’ average number of comments, likes, or retweets. Track which sorts of content elicit the best sharing responses and use this to inform your social content strategy to ultimately increase engagement moving forward.
Traffic vs Conversions
Traffic probably isn’t the most useful metric. Rather than seeking to purely increase traffic, look to see which social sites send traffic to your site/blog with high time on site and page views. Also look at which social media sites refer the traffic with the highest conversion rate. Remember that conversions aren’t just sales, subscription to RSS feeds, newsletters, whitepaper downloads, or engagement/social shares on the company blog could be considered metrics in conversion.
The sites that send the most engaged traffic and the best conversion rates should become the priority of your social media strategy.
A company Blog should lie at the heart of your Social Media efforts. Having a Facebook page or Company Google + page could work as well and most small business have them. However, why spend time creating content, distilling thought leadership for your industry and community, sharing valuable articles etc, just to send that traffic to Google and Facebook.
A blog is the perfect landing for all your social media efforts. Use social media as way to interact with like minded individuals, to share information, to find what types of content others enjoy. Once someone likes what you are sharing they will usually visit your website and/or blog.
A blog can be a powerful way to share insight about your industry and community. Share tips, tricks and insight that your customers/potential customers can use in their own daily activities. Use your blog to promote the company culture, mission & values. Use it as a platform to show your leadership in your industry and local community. Ultimately, your blog can endear customers, leads, employees, and would be employees to your business.
Blogs are great for linkbuilding, but they have a lot more to offer than just links back to your site. They can act like purpose-built communities for your brand: a collection of internet users who will be interested in your brand and who have already been brought together. You can use blogs to promote contests, build up an engaged community and provide feedback on your content.
Tags: Brand Strategy, brands, Content Marketing, Hootsuite, Inbound Marketing, Online Brand Strategy, Online Strategy, Social Media, Timely, Topsy, TweetDeck