10 Ways to Measure Social Media for Business

Is your business a social business? Companies that are making good use of social media should take the next step and measure the progress of their social media programs and campaigns. How do you know if you’re succeeding if you don’t have the numbers?

Today we’ll look at 10 ways that metrics can offer visibility into your business’s performance. You won’t want to chart all of these, but tracking a few well-chosen metrics — and incorporating the learning’s into your business processes — can contribute to the bottom line.

Customer Engagement

1. Engagement can take place offline and online, on your site, on your social networks and in real-world face-to-face events. By letting customers participate in conversations about your brand, you can improve your business, your products and your levels of service. Ultimately, customer engagement is key to improving satisfaction and loyalty rates and revenue.

Metrics to track could include:

  • Number of followers on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Number of retweets on Twitter
  • Number of comments per blog post
  • Number of external widgets embedded
  • Invaluable assets as re-distributors of content
  • Customer reviews and ratings

Note: Such customer interaction can be invaluable in fostering a culture of community and in guiding product development. In addition, endorsements can be used as testimonials in marketing materials (with permission).

Sales & Profits

2. In the end, you business’s social media efforts need to not just generate customer goodwill — it should contribute to your company’s bottom line.

Metrics to keep an eye on include:

  • Track sales from Google referrals
  • Sales from paid search
  • Sales as a result of social network mentions

Dell said it made $3 million selling products to its Twitter followers on the strength of coupons and discounts that other Twitterers gladly passed along vi-rally as tipsters. And Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” blender’s campaign on YouTube helped to drive a 500 percent increase in sales in 2010.  Just don’t expect the needle to move right away!

Search Marketing & Rankings

3. The importance of search engine optimization to your brand cannot be overstated: SEO & social media efforts should significantly increase your site’s visibility & performance in search results. It should also help you rank prominently for targeted items and increase your long-tail traffic. Identify and incorporate targeted keywords on major landing pages on your site. Strategically use keywords on social networks as well, such as Facebook. You can use links from Twitter or YouTube to claim valuable search rankings on your brand search terms. Tweets that rank for targeted keyword can lead to traffic from keywords that the site does not rank for.

Whenever someone shares content from your site on a social site, you get a link back and a submission history. Try to convert one-time visitors from Digg, StumbleUpon and other social news sites into long-term members of your community.

Traffic & Conversation Reach

4. Your business can produce the most gorgeous, well-manicured press releases in the world. But unless you get customers talking about your product or service and generating traffic to your website, micro-site or social networks, you’re missing the boat. Raw traffic is important, but you’ll want to measure traffic from segmented audiences that you’re targeting-people who are likely to follow you or more so, buy from you. Also chart the number of visitors to your social networks.

Brand Sentiment

5. The nature and purpose of public relations and external communications is changing from an industrial-era paradigm to one of facilitation and curation. Go with it — help create evangelists for your products or services among your most ardent fans. Word of mouth and the viral nature of sites like Twitter, Facebook and Digg can help shift your company’s key brand metrics.

You’ll need a more sophisticated set of metrics tools to gauge the following: Brand awareness, brand favor-ability, brand recall, propensity to buy, etc. (TV ads are measured in this way.) A positive brand associations via social media efforts can help drive clicks on paid search ads. Use a social media service to measure brand sentiment.

Public Outreach

6. The worlds of public relations, customer service and marketing are merging. Social media enables customers to interact with all channels within a company. Traditional metrics, such as column inches in newspapers and magazines, are becoming less relevant over time. Outreach to blogosphere & Twitterverse is becoming as important as outreach to media organizations. Consider creating a social media newsroom that offers bloggers and news organizations a rich set of multimedia, bullet-ed takeaways and quotes from key participants. Then track the number of mentions on social sites by using the bit.ly url shortener.

Lead Generation

7. Social media is becoming a funnel for lead generation. A number of tools now let you track business prospects through sophisticated filtering mechanisms. Use LinkedIn to connect with potential business partners and clients, and chart the rate of invitations accepted and follow-up communications acted upon. See which kinds of messaging are resonating.

Here’s an opportunity for your internal teams to work together to optimize your site for keywords and key phrases. It’s always better when potential customers come to you.

Customer Retention

8. We’re moving into an age of optimization and retention. Watch your retention rates as you start participating in social media. Over time, if your team uses social media intelligently, they should rise. Zappos, which uses Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube for its social media efforts, has exceeded $1 billion in sales. Some 75 percent of its orders are repeat customers. Make sure you monitor your repeat customers and shower them with love.

Cost Savings

9. In this age of cost-cutting, companies are looking to apply savings wherever they can. Cisco saved $250,000 by using social media rather than traditional PR and marketing to roll out its Data Center project.

Crowd sourcing has become an increasingly popular way for businesses to leverage customers and outside parties for savings. Consider how cost reductions can be applied in a way that benefits the bottom line while not infringing on worker rights or jeopardizing health and environmental standards. Then measure how each initiative contributes to cost containment.

Employee Recruitment

10. The brightest young minds coming into the workplace today live, breathe and understand social media. Show them that you’re a genuine social business and not just another company hunkering down in the wake of the social media revolution. Measure incoming employees’ sentiment about your company. What are they saying? What attracted them?

Measure exiting employees’ sentiment. Assign someone from human relations, with no stake in the matter, to conduct exit interviews. Assess their feedback — and take it to heart.

By JD Lasica of Socialmedia.biz

These are 10 ideas, but it’s not a complete list. List your ideas in the comments below.

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8 Effective Ways to Increase Your Social Media Reach

For most most of us, increasing your reach is the ultimate goal of establishing and maintaining a social media presence. But first things is first. In order to make social media an effective tool to reach out to others, you first need to generate a following — fans for your Facebook page, followers for your Twitter account and LinkedIn company page, etc.

The more fans and followers you have for your social media presence, the better reach you’ll have. And better reach means the potential to generate more leads for business. So at the very core of social media for lead generation, you must take steps to increase your reach. To help you get started, here are 8 effective ways to expand your social media reach.

8 Ways to Attract More Social Media Fans and Followers

1. Optimize Your Social Presence. First and foremost, you must make sure your presence is optimized. Make sure the bios/profiles for your social media accounts are complete and that they include clear and concise descriptions of your business, your company logo, and your website URL. And now that social media updates are included in search results, be sure you’re also optimizing your tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn company status updates with keywords appropriate for your business, which could help you get found in search.

2. Promote Your Social Presence Everywhere. And by everywhere, we mean everywhere — on various pages of your website, on your blog, on signage in your storefront if you’re a local business, in print advertising, on your business cards, in your email marketing messages. Many social media sites now have official ‘follow’ buttons you can include on your website and blog. If not, you can create your own button and link it to your social media account. Twitter, for example, offers an official follow button that enables your site visitors to become a Twitter follower with just one click!

3. Share Useful, Valuable Content. It’s not just enough to promote your presence. You need to make your presence is something that’s worth following in the first place. Make sure your tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn updates consist of valuable, useful, and engaging content. Avoid product-focused content, and instead, make your social updates consist of educational content that has the potential to attract more fans and followers. People follow brands in social media because they’re looking for something useful, not because they want to know about how great your products and services are.

4. Add Social Sharing Buttons to All Your Content. Just as you should be promoting your social presence in as many places as possible, you should also be enabling your site visitors and email subscribers to share your content with their personal networks as easily as possible. Add social sharing buttons (e.g. “Share on Facebook” “Tweet This,” etc.) to all of your content — on individual blog articles, in email messages, on landing pages for eBook and webinar downloads, within the pages of your eBooks, etc. By evangelizing your audience to share your content, you’ll have better potential to reach a broader audience that extends beyond your direct network of fans and followers. And if those people like the content that their friends are sharing with them, they may be inclined to become direct followers of you, too!

5. Find, Follow, and Build Relationships With People In Your Industry. Use tools like Tweet Grader, Twitter Search, and Twellow to identify other Twitter users in your industry. Start following them, participating in discussions, and engaging in conversations. Find and follow other influential bloggers and re-tweet their content. Follow back anyone who follows you. Participate in Twitter chats and hash tag conversations like #FollowFriday (#FF). Start following some of the people your followers (and the people you’re following) are following too!

6. Interact With Fans and Followers. Just as you should be regularly sharing educational, insightful content, you should also be monitoring your presence and interacting with your fans and followers. Ask questions, be engaging, and participate in discussions to create a presence worth following.

7. Create a Custom Facebook Welcome Page. Follow this quick tutorial to create a custom Facebook landing page tab to welcome first-time visitors of your Facebook page. Set the page as your ‘Default landing Tab’ (you can do this when you’re editing your page under ‘Manage Permissions’), and use the tab to encourage new visitors to ‘like’ you right off the bat!

8. Offer Incentives for New Fans/Followers. Make it so your social media presence is a must-follow. Research shows that 58% of Facebook users expect exclusive offers from business pages, so consider offering exclusive promotions and offers available only to your social media followers. Create a Facebook contest and make it a requirement for users to ‘like’ you in order to be eligible. Create an offer available only to Twitter followers that can’t be obtained elsewhere. Make it so that users need to follow you in order to receive specific perks.

Building your social media reach will take some time, but if you are committed, you’ll start seeing results.
By Pamela Vaughan at Hubspot.com
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