How do you measure the impact of Social Media on your business?

04 November 2010

I was sitting in a meeting this week with a prospective client and they were trying to figure out how they could justify an investment in social media. When you have to weigh up the pros and cons of social media versus other places for your money it’s important to measure what you do without drowning in numbers.
No 1 - Find out how your customers are using social media
Most clients I have met want to use social media to reach customers in the channels they are using most frequently. There are thousands of social media sites and it’s important that your focus on the ones that are most widely your customers.
I was interested to read the recent Hitwise recent report[1] on the profile of Twitter and Facebook fans against the UK’s Mosaic demographic database which prompted British Airways to use Twitter more than Facebook as it more closely matched the profile of their customers.
No 2. Think carefully about your objectives for investing in social media.
If you want to use it as a retention tool then measure retention and ensure you can measure forward from this benchmark level.
If you want to use social media as a way of engaging with your fans then use the Facebook insights package to measure the no of impressions and comments that each post creates, which will be given an index. Anything approaching 1% engagement level is seen as very good versus the norm.
If on the other hand you want to use it to build awareness then measure this through a customer survey so that you have a benchmark from which to measure improvements.
It’s relatively easy to ask a question “How did you hear about us?” and ensure your social media channels are mentioned.
No 3 Track all links through to your website
Most businesses want to use social media to drive traffic to their website. In order to track what happens all links are best shortened using or or using Google’s new service and tracked so that revenues per clickthrough can be measured.
No 4 Blogs can be a great email acquisition tool
If you have good content to put in your blogs then ensure you have a newsletter sign up on your blogs aswell as the ability to capture rank posts, add comments and feedback. Ensure that all your blogs and tweets can be retweeted or shared with others. Don’t forget to submit your blogs to feedburner and other sites to ensure they get maximum circulation across the web. Your existing customer newsletters may have rich content which would be of real interest to other web visitors so make them as accessible as possible by posting links to them and enable your customers to interact with them.
No 5 Make sure you track traffic both ways to and from your website
Remember that clickthroughs from your website to your Facebook page together with the number of daily likes will help to explain your conversion rate to likes and you can explore the gap between the two figures.
Ensure you have a friendly welcome page on Facebook with clear instructions on how to “like” your page so that you can maximise your opportunities to start a conversation. You can set your own preferences as to the level of interactivity you want with fans on Facebook but remember that fan content is likely to prove more engaging to a first time visitor than company posts and will build greater levels of trust.
No 6 Engagement is as important as the number of fans
Collecting fans is not productive if they do not do anything so the key metric to measure is how active they are in recommending others. For this reason you need to make it easy for customers, not just to “like” but to recommend your business not just in Facebook but also on your website. With the integration of social media channels  you can now “tweet” in Facebook and in your Yahoo email. Social sign ins will become more important as Search becomes Social with the tie up between Facebook and Bing so make sure you have optimised your website for social as much as possible. There are already 2 million websites with social sign ins so you want to have your listing in the search engines with any endorsements from your customers.

[1] Experian Hitwise “Getting to Grips with Social Media” Report 2010
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