Social media success can be measured using a variety of methods. But successful social media efforts generally don't occur by broadcasting to the widest audience possible.
Instead, success entails moving beyond reaching your audience to engaging them and ultimately leading them to take action. The difficult part is gaining an understanding of what it will take to get enough of your audience to take the required actions that will allow you to reach your goals.
Define Your Business Objectives
Without clearly defining business objectives that map to social media goals, you're really just setting sail without a destination and will end up lost out in the vast sea of social media. Once you have defined goals and objectives, you need to begin to understand what it will take to meet them.
Sure, gaining a thousand new Likes of your Facebook page or topping a thousand followers on Twitter is exciting. But you need to analyze how these additional likes and followers impact the business.
Create a Predictive Model
Your model should start with your goals and works its way back up to your social media engagement and your overall social media reach. By creating a model like this, you'll be able to start predicting the volume of engaged users, the number of connections, and the level of social media reach needed to accomplish your goals.
Take, for example, a company where online sales have been laid out as the ultimate goal for social media. If you're going to generate X number of online sales, you need to understand what it will take to generate those sales. You can't just start playing around with Facebook, Twitter, or any other social channel and hope your efforts will eventually lead to more sales.
In most cases, it's unlikely that you're going to drive a large volume of direct online sales from social media, so you need to understand the micro conversions that take place, which eventually may turn into a sale. These may include downloading a white paper, attending a webinar, or utilizing a free trial offer. Your model should be able to tell you how many of these micro conversions are needed in order to reach your online sales goals.
What it Takes to Generate the Required Number of Micro Conversions
This is where it can start to become a bit more difficult to build your model. However, using these six key social media metrics will help you get started.
Essentially, what you need to understand is what goes into generating a micro conversion and work backward. For each type of micro conversion, you'll need to determine how many social media referrals it takes to generate a conversion. You'll then need to determine what it takes to generate a social media referral.
Once you've completed your model, you'll be able to begin to understand what it will take to meet your social media goals. One key piece to understand is that all Connections, or all My Engagements, or each part that makes up any of the other metrics, aren't equal.
To build a more accurate model, you'll want to evaluate the metrics that go into each of the metrics in the chart above. You may find that Facebook page likes are more valuable than Twitter followers or that a link you place as part of a post on a particular forum is more valuable than one on Facebook or your blog.
Impact of Your Social Media Efforts on Direct Traffic, Brand Search Referrals
Any correlations between your social media reach and direct or brand search referrals should be noted and analyzed to better understand if your social media efforts are impacting these key indicators of brand awareness.
The more finely tuned your model is in terms of the metrics that are inputted and the amount of data that's been collected, the more accurate it will be at predicting results. It should always be an ongoing process of evaluating and tweaking your model to continually refine it so that you'll be able to more accurately understand what it will take to meet your social media objectives.
At the outset, your social media predictive model likely won't be as accurate as you'd like. In time, though, you'll be able to continually fine tune the model to eventually get to the point where you can go to your boss and confidently tell them what it's going to take to meet your social media goals.