Measuring the Success of your Social Media Efforts

Q: Like so many small business people these days I suppose, I am getting my feet wet with social media. I have a Facebook account and am getting involved in LinkedIn which I like a lot. That all said, I am not sure it is worth all of the effort. How can I tell?

Social Media ContentQ: Like so many small business people these days I suppose, I am getting my feet wet with social media. I have a Facebook account and am getting involved in LinkedIn which I like a lot. That all said, I am not sure it is worth all of the effort. How can I tell? - Jan  

A: This is such an important question for all sorts of reasons. For one, many people find themselves increasingly spending more and more time on Facebook and the like for personal reasons, and as such, for another, it has become the place where people are making business buying decisions. Via social media, they are getting recommendations from friends, seeing targeted ads, and researching businesses they learn of.  

So yes, because you need to go to where the eyeballs are, you need to be on social media, but you also have to be equally sure that you are getting a bang for your buck and time.  

Here’s how to tell:  

  • The bottom line: How do you know if all of your tweeting and updates and blogs and new videos are making a difference? Because you are making more money, that’s how. The real danger with social media as I see it is that it is very easy to get sucked into it, to find yourself spending a lot of time with it because it’s fun and engrossing, and then telling yourself that it’s necessary . . . when really maybe it’s not because it’s not paying off financially. Yes, social networking can be a great, affordable way to build a brand and meet new people (see below), but if you are not making more money as a result, you are doing something wrong.  
  • Increased analytics: I love this quote from the Mobile Marketing Association – they say that measuring the success of a new marketing campaign requires a new sort of analysis, which includes:

“The number of eyeballs, shakes and finger swipes. The number of blogs, articles, tweets and diggs. The number of acquisitions, conversions, calls, responses or purchases. Total basket size, consumer recall, loyalty and recommendations. Checkins on foursquare and check-outs on Amazon.” 

  • Increased traffic: Here is another quantifiable way to judge your results: An uptick in traffic. Of course, traffic can mean all sorts of things: It can be more people reading your blog, more hits on your website, more people shopping in your e-store, or more people coming into the physical store.  

Here are a few ways to measure your online traffic:  

Google Analytics: Google Analytics is the standard for tracking traffic, keywords, incoming links, sites, etc.  

Wordpress: If you use Wordpress for your blog or site, their dashboard is another great analytical tool.  

TweetMeme: If you have re-tweet button on your site, TweetMeme is very helpful.  

  • More relationships: There are a lot of benefits to getting a lot of new online friends and followers. For instance, social media affordably gets your business in front of a lot of new people and moreover, it can look impressive, having a lot of followers or people who “like” your fan page.  

But the real value, I suggest, is that you can actually meet and get to do business with some new associates; people you would not otherwise normally meet. The people who really make money with social media and who have figured out how to use it to grow their business in fact use it to meet and create relationships. 

After all, it’s not just called social media, it’s also called social networking. Use it to network.  

  • Better brand awareness: While real relationships are a valuable way to measure your social media ROI, it is nevertheless also true that another valuable benefit is that more people will learn of your business. Having a lot of fans and followers, or having your tweets re-tweeted, increases brand awareness. Social networking, when done right, builds your brand.  

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About the Author

Steve Strauss HeadshotSteven D. Strauss is a lawyer and writer and is one of the country's leading experts on small business as well as an international business speaker. The best-selling author of 17 books, his latest is the all-new 3rd ed. of The Small Business Bible. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success Powered by Greatland, visit his new website for the self-employed, TheSelfEmployed, follow him on Twitter, and "like" TheSelfEmployed on Facebook. You can e-mail Steve at: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com. © Steven D. Strauss