If you’ve recently launched a social media campaign for your small business, it’s likely that you’ve started out small. Perhaps you’ve opened an account on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn and encouraged a small but steadily growing group of followers to find out what you’re about, and to check out, like, and share your content. Every so often you look at your site analytics to figure out your ROI, but you keep asking yourself a simple question: is social media working for me?
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
One of best ways to begin to put together an effective social media campaign is to understand something that marketers have dubbed Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
Think of it as if you were managing a baseball team: how do you put together a team that is going to consistently give you the best chance to win games? You’d likely take into account your roster’s individual offensive and defensive statistics (think classic stats, like average, hits, home runs, errors, and the like), then try to optimize your lineup based on their ability and track record.
KPIs aren’t much different. Like baseball, it can be difficult to know what statistics are the most telling of your brand’s overall strength, so it’s important to track as many as possible and put them into proper context in order for your brand to flourish.
WHICH KPIs sHOULD YOU BE TRACKING?
Every blogger and marketing commentator is going to look at KPIs from their own perspective, and subsequently value KPIs differently. Oktopost recommends following several KPIs, as does this Buffer article from a few months ago. Most, however, will agree on two fundamental KPIs: reach and engagement.
This category speaks to the most basic element of social media: which users on social media are following your account and interacting with your content, and more importantly, what kind of users are they? Active users are certainly the most desirable, as they’re more likely to show up on your Monthly Active Users report (more on that later), interact with your content, and potentially become a client of or an advocate for your brand. It’s also important to distinguish these users from bots, which are typically used to pad counting stats, such as Facebook friends and followers or Twitter followers.
What are users doing with your content? They see it, but do they interact with it or scroll past it? Do they share it or comment on it? Engaging, relevant content is what users look forward to when they refresh their social media streams, and the content most likely to be shared with friends, coworkers, and family members.
There are several other KPIs that might also be worth your attention, such as conversion (who’s buying what you’re selling, and at what rate?) and retention (are your clients satisfied?) Some will be more relevant to you than others, given where you are in your social media campaign.
HOW DO I TRACK KPIs?
Most social media networks are more than happy to provide you with their own analytics. After all, sites such as Facebook and Twitter exist to facilitate advertising and content delivery as much as they exist to connect people to one another. Here are some of the big ones:
Google+ Platform Insights
These will typically show you how many unique views your page receives within a specific time frame (usually every 30 days), as well as how many followers you’ve gained and lost, how often you’re mentioned by other users, how often your content is being shared and commented on, as well as all available geographic information for those users.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Now that you’ve got some data to process and some insight into how your social media is working, it’s time to start putting that data to your advantage. Consider how your content influences interaction, and how a change in strategy might change your growth—finding more ways to make your content relevant can only help you grow your followers. As always, consider the tone of your content and what else your audience is looking at. You don’t want to appear automated, but you still need to stand out from the crowd—stay true to who you are and what you’re about. And if you haven’t already, start responding to comments (just remember to keep the conversation positive).
So, is social media working for you? The short answer is: yes. Probably. A poor social media campaign can certainly backfire and cost more than it’s worth, but it’s far more likely that you’ll see a return on your investment from getting your message out to as many people as possible, as often as possible.