Companies in New Zealand and around the world are now starting to use social media for business purposes more effectively, tapping into tools such as Facebook and Twitter, to market their services and to communicate more effectively with their customers.
According to a recent study reported by the Los Angeles Times, around 90% of U.S. small businesses are now using social networking platforms. That’s the good news.
Slightly less cheerful news, however, comes from a study by eConsultancy and Adobe, which finds that there’s little deep tracking going on by those who use social media for business.
One In Five Companies Who Use Social Media For Business Do Virtually No Tracking
You’ll recall the old saying “Half of my advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which half.” That situation was almost acceptable in the context of mass marketing, where companies cast their advertising upon the vast watery expanse of print and broadcast media and the only way to figure out what was working was to count the number of sales you made (or, more likely, how often the Chairman was told “saw you on TV” by his golfing buddies) — but when you’re dealing with one-to-one methods such as social media, it’s simply poor business practice not to know what results you’re achieving.
So what should you track?
To answer this question, let’s just focus on Facebook for now. Through Facebook’s built-in Insights tools, you can track:
- Likes. That, sadly, is where many marketers start and stop their tracking. In our view, that’s a lot like monitoring the number of people who come into your store — but not bothering to track whether or not they buy.
- Talking About. Knowing this information is a big step up. Social Media, as the name suggests, is all about talking – engaging with your followers, and having them engage with you. Take a look at how many of your fans were actually “talking about” you last week, and calculate that as a percentage of your overall followers. The whole idea, when you use social media for business, is to engage — otherwise, you might as well devote your time and money to mass media advertising instead, you’ll reach far more people.
- Reach. Facebook calculates how many people saw your posts, either directly or via your followers. This will be low at first, but don’t worry — one of the first lessons to learn when you set out to use social media for business is that size (of audience) doesn’t matter. Engagement is the key.
- Sentiment. It’s good to have people talking about you, but if they’re not saying nice things, clearly something’s rotten in the state of Denmark (or Dargaville). Still, it’s better to know when bad things are being said (rather than remain in blissful ignorance) — it may be hurtful, but at least you can do something about it. So how do you measure sentiment (without poring over your own Facebook pages every other moment)? Start with a free Sentiment Analysis tool such as the Chrome plugin offered by Viral Heat, and consider other, more powerful paid options as budget allows.
What else can you track to use social media for business effectively?
As the graph above suggests, Revenue is an obvious measure (and one which will matter most to your CEO and CFO). “Why am I spending so much time on Facebook? Take a look at these sales!”
How can you track revenues and attribute them to your use of social media for business marketing?
- If you sell online, use a unique web link to send people from Facebook (or whatever social media site you’re using) to your website
- If you only sell offline, make an offer that’s unique to your social media efforts (eg “free giftwrap when you quote OFFER FB”)
Another metric that many of those who use social media for business choose to track: how much traffic was driven from their social media pages to their website. We don’t want to delve into the technical aspects here — suffice it to say that your webmaster (if you have one) will tell you what you need to know about setting up Google Analytics to monitor such efforts.
Social Media Training
If you’d like more detailed advice on how best to use social media for business, we encourage you to check out our social media training courses.We cover a variety of topics, including:
- The general principles and practices of social media marketing
- How to create an effective social media marketing brief
- How to get started on Facebook
- How to accelerate your Facebook efforts
The courses are all online and they provide comprehensive explanations of tracking and the many other aspects that matter when you use social media for business.