One of the biggest questions during Search Engine Strategies in San Jose was what the best form of measurement is for social media. Well, it depends. You probably hate it when people say that, but it's true.
What do you want to accomplish with your business and what role will social media play in helping you to accomplish your objectives? This is what you want to measure.
This becomes your strategy. Some people might want to dive into social media because of all the buzz and it seems like the right thing to do. But without a plan, you probably won't get the results you seek.
One key benefit of social media is building relationships with your clients. I really like the way April Jasmine stated it in her comment on "Developing a Social Media Strategy 101, Part 1":"People are tired of being 'profiled' as a 'consumer.' Social media dampens the impersonal corporate edge and enforces a real, personable voice. I believe more companies are realizing the importance of cultivating real, organic relationships with their audience. Those who aren't utilizing social media are missing out on a powerful tool that provides invaluable insight into the wants and needs of their audience."
This then becomes your strategy. To "listen" and identify the wants and needs of your audience then use social media as a tool to join the conversation, develop a trusting relationship, and provide something of value for that audience.
Small Business Case Study
Let's look at a simple example. Say you have a local carpet cleaning business and many of your leads are generated by word-of-mouth referrals. Even though you have a Web site that informs, your conversion happens on the phone. Your goal is to increase traffic to your site, have the phone ring more often, and generally increase brand awareness.
As you listen to your audience, you discover a fair amount of buzz and need for carpet cleaning tips. Your strategy would be to reach out to your audience by providing these tips to accomplish your goal.
First, it's important to update your Web site to make sure it provides a good user experience. Ultimately, people will find their way to your site. It needs to represent you well.
Then you need to add content for cleaning tips. To engage your audience you might produce videos and post them on YouTube and embed them into your site.
Also, you might set up a Twitter account and tweet about cleaning tips, providing links to your advice and the advice of others. To sweeten the deal, you also might post some of your promotions on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.
Finally, set up analytics on your site to measure traffic increases and other visitor behavior. Watch the number of followers you get and the growth rate from one week to the other.
But the most important measurement to take note of is the number of calls you get, compared to before you began your social media activities. Is there an increase in call volume? If not, make adjustments in your strategy and maybe try some new tactics.
This is just one of many examples, but the key is to develop a strategy, identify your metrics for success, and set up your analytics to report if success happens or not.
It's up to you to be innovative on how you engage your audience with the many social media tools available. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you come in with the attitude of contributing something of value to the conversation rather than plugging yourself all of the time, you're much more likely to find success with social media.