We’ve looked at the most important social media channels, we learned how to build content for them, and how to implement, manage, and monitor campaigns in these platforms. Now it’s time to learn how you can measure the results. In this article, you’ll identify the key metrics to measure the impact of social media, review metrics you’ll find on the platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat, and learn how to calculate virality.
Because social media activity can move at the speed of light, you can be tempted to dive right in. But that’s not an effective long term strategy, plus you want to be able to track and determine which of your efforts actually paid off. What gets measured gets managed, and social media is no different.
Your social media efforts can be measured. It’s important that you have key performance indicators for your social media efforts. Do you want likes, views, shares? How do those KPIs tie back to your primary KPI and marketing objective.
One important thing to understand is that social media is just one piece of the whole marketing pie. It often does not lead directly back to your primary KPI or marketing objective. For example, if you’re selling shoes a post with a link to a purchase page is not going to get you anywhere on social media if you haven’t already put in an investment to build a relationship with your audience that doesn’t involve trying to sell them something.
Eventually, you might be able to use social media for direct marketing but in general that’s not why people are on social media or engage with you there. But just because there isn’t a direct link doesn’t mean that your efforts in social media shouldn’t be related.
To connect your social media marketing to your objective, you need to track your marketing. Tracking your social media will require a combination of UTM links, Google Analytics or other analytics packages and the social media platform you are using. UTM links, you’ll recall can capture where your user clicked on the link.
Google Analytics helps you track the vital numbers for your content’s performance. At a high level you’ll look at unique page views, number of clicks and referral source. This data will help you figure out which of your posts get the most readers. For example, which posts are good for generating action and what social channels referring the majority of your users.
You will use this information to adjust your publishing schedule as well as the type of content you post and the social media platform you use to promote your content. With Google Analytics, you can also check what other actions people who came from social media take on your site.
Finally, many of the social media platforms have their own analytic dashboards that show you how your content is performing. The next node reviews how to setup and use UTM links. If you already have it down feel free to skip the next node.
Social Media Costs
When we talk about measuring, we should also measure the costs involved.
The average business spends 9.4% of its marketing budget on social media. That number is expected to grow to 21.4% over the next five years. Many social media platforms are free to use but they’re not without costs.
Many companies underestimate the time and resources these platforms need. One way to organize and understand your investment is to create a budget. Your budget should include these key items.
- Personnel, you’ll want to budget for at least one person to create a strategy and a consultant freelancer or full time employee to implement that strategy. The number of personnel hours you’ll need will depend on how much content creative and branding you require.
- Software and tools, you’ll want to budget for software and tools. These can include a social media management platform like Hootsuite, a project management system, analytics, content hosting and creative software like Adobe Creative Cloud.
- Training and education, social media is constantly evolving. You’ll want to budget for ongoing training in education of your in-house social media personnel.
- Creative, you’ll want to budget for the look and feel of your social media presence. Will you have someone create creative assets you use or will your social media manager create the content?
- Content, finally, who’s going to create the content you are posting? Typically content is created by copywriters and copy editors. Will you bring them on as freelancers or as employees, or will you expect your social media manager to create the content, too?
There is no one size fits all, but a good budget will keep your efforts on track.
When you spread your content through social channels you’re trying to become part of the conversation. If you dominate the conversation, you are said to have gone viral.
Going viral though is not guaranteed or easy but you can predict to a certain degree whether people will share your message. You can understand the potential virality of any content using this formula where X = P_f * N * P_V, where P_f is the probability of an item being forwarded. N equals the number of people who see that forwarded item and P_V is the probability that those who see it view it or engage with it. P_f is the probability of forwards.
Why do people share things?
- People share things to increase their social currency which means they share content that makes them look good.
- People share things because the item triggers something top of mind.
- People share things because it evokes emotion. Humor can be especially effective but strong emotional reactions to content will often trigger sharing.
- People share things because it’s in keeping with what others are doing.
- People share things because it might be valuable to others ??it’s news people can use.
- And people share things because people love stories or information passed along in the guise of idle chitchat.
N, the number of people who see a forwarded item, is harder to influence. For example, news feed algorithms in Facebook can bury a post. Targeting influencers can help get more visibility for your post, especially on Twitter, and boosting posts on Facebook might help. Boosting means paying for the post to be seen by Facebook users more. P_V, the probability that those who see the post view it, goes up if you can make the content appealing to watch. You can test and optimize this by using different titles, pictures, media, different descriptions, and even different formats.
It’s important that you link your social media efforts back to your marketing objective and have KPIs per social channel.
Pay attention to how each platform measures use. It’s often not an apples to apples comparison.
Calculate virality to get a sense of how far your social media efforts might go. Social media marketing, like any relationship, is hard to master. It takes a big investment in both time and resources. You’ll need to use multiple channels, cross-promote your message in those different channels, and listen closely to what your audience is saying. The payoff though can mean the difference between attending a party and being the life of the party.
Finally, social media marketing alone won’t get you noticed. Increasingly, marketers have to use a combination of social media marketing and social media ads. Learn more about social media advertising, next.