Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Analytics and Social Media Marketing: Metrics that Matter

With the evolutionary growth of social media being used as a marketing, communication, and promotional tool, it is vital that companies understand how to measure and quantify their social media influence through web analytics. Some of the traditional metrics that have been viewed as important (followers, fans, total tweets, following to follower ratio, etc.) are suboptimal in accurately measuring a company’s social media success. However, there are some specific metrics provided through web analytics that can assist companies in understanding and quantifying their social media presence from a more business-centric standpoint.

Conversion Rate
The first important metric is the conversion rate. This metric can be two-fold in its meaning. First of all, it can refer simply to converting “likes”, ”fans”, and “followers” into actual interactions with your content. This can take the form of comments, replies, shares, or reposts.

Secondly, web analytics can be used to analyze conversion rates from your social network audience into actual paying customers. Companies can see that x amount of customers came to the website through different social media platforms, and then quantify results based on the profit seen from each of the various sites. By discovering the profits attributed to social media, companies can better understand their social media ROI. With this data, they can invest in social media more wisely and allocate the time and money spent on each platform based on a cost/benefit analysis.

It is important to understand what types of content and posts your audience cares about and relates to. Through analytics, social media managers can look for trends, and use this analysis to better create posts targeted at what their audiences are interested in. These findings may be applicable to marketing strategies through other mediums as well.

Social media is an ideal way to communicate with customers and should be used to its full advantage in terms of understanding the target market and finding optimal ways to communicate with them. Using analytics to determine what content is providing the greatest impact can also help deter from “me marketing” and help ensure that your content is relevant to your audience.

Competitive Analysis
Analyzing and assessing competitor’s social media presence gives your company an opportunity to explore best practices within your industry. While this will not allow for a competitive advantage, it does allow for competitive parity and can be extremely beneficial. This can be particularly important for smaller businesses that can use an analysis of leading competitor’s practices to improve their own strategy.          

Custom Campaign Tracking
Social Media influence can also be measured through customizable tools, such as Google Analytics Custom Campaigns. Using the correct tags, companies can track specific social media posts and campaigns. They can see how many users are brought to the site, how many pages were viewed once there, how many unique visits were produced, and how many users were converted into customers based off of the specific campaign or post. Obviously, by tracking specific campaigns and promotions so thoroughly, companies can easily see which were successful and which were not. Companies could potentially use this tool to execute a type of A/B testing through social media and find out how to produce optimal content.

Prior to trying to measure and quantify your social media influence through analytics, it is important to assess why you are using social media in the first place. What are your goals through social media? Are you trying to improve your brand awareness? Grow your customer base? Learn more about your current target market? Once you can clearly understand the scope of what you are trying to accomplish through social media, it becomes much easier to use web analytics in order to measure and quantify your social media impact.

What other social media metrics do you think are important? Comment and let me know what you think!