February 7, 2012

Although we all know how important it is to continuously maintain and improve your social media presence, social media is also notoriously hard to track. In a time when every aspect of a business is supposed to be tracked for how it impacts your bottom line, and how much of a return on your investment it provides, social media is difficult to justify.

So how can we reconcile the centrality of social media with the difficulties of tracking your performance? By learning how to track social media performance!

Of course, this is much easier said than done. The reason that there isn’t a simple way to track social media ROI is because social media is an incredibly complex network. So we’ll have to get a bit creative in order to track how effective our performance is in the social media realm. A couple of decent metrics that we can look at are reach, actions, and costs.

Reach refers to how big a footprint you have in the social media universe. So to determine your reach, you need only look at how many followers you have, how many fans you have, and how many people comment on your posts. This is one of the easiest parts of social media to calculate. However, the difficulty arises in trying to determine how reach affects your bottom line.

This is where actions come into play. Actions refers to traceable behaviours, which customers or potential customers took as a direct result of your social media campaigns. This is the notoriously difficult thing to track. One way to get around it is by using promotion codes or linking to a different landing page. Then when you’re tracking your site analytics as you normally would, you can determine who came from your social media campaign, and who came from your more traditional sources of lead generation.

Remember that when you’re tracking actions, they do not only have to be sales. As with any attempt to determine effectiveness, steps toward a sale can also be counted as proof of effectiveness.

With social media, costs shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Typically, the only real cost is the time of your staff or yourself. That alone is one of the biggest draws of social media. Additionally, the extremely low costs take a lot of the edge off of determining your ROI – even if you only get a few sales from social media, it’s still worth it.

Finally, remember that social media is a tool for socialising, and for building relationships. So more than anything else, your success in using social media should be measured by the number of relationships you’ve created, and the strength of those relationships.



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