Only 40 percent of Small Businesses surveyed in the Salesforce-sponsored SmartCompany Research felt they were getting any return on their Social Media investment. There are many aspects of social media activity that can be measured and in some ways one of the problems is that with so much data to measure - it is sometimes hard to make sense of it all and identify what impact it is having on your business.

There are three stages of ROI measurement that SMBs can advance through, moving from watching everything in order to build momentum; to eventually experimenting scientifically with a variety of approaches to hone your Social Media strategy to perfection.

Stage One: Track Everything!

At the beginning of any concerted social media go-to-market effort, it is a good idea to track everything - likes, favourites, traffic spikes, comments, everything! By establishing benchmarks for every kind of possible measurement at the outset you can measure progress very effectively. The experience should be a good one because you will be coming off a low base.

For the most part this is an exercise in building momentum and inspiring confidence. Whether your business is a one man shop or a large growing business with many employees, you need to justify the time you invest. The success charted at this stage will help the Social program gain traction in the business. If the metrics keep heading in the right direction, keep doing what you are doing. If they plateau or go down, it is time to review what you are doing and adjust your strategy - simple as that! Here are two tools you can use for your early measurement endeavours:

  • Klout provides a score based on a complicated algorithm that appraises a mix of metrics - the size of your audience, the relative influence of those that make up your audience, the degree of interaction you have with the audience and so on.

  • Google analytics is free and is a very powerful way to understand your website traffic - how many visitors you are getting, where they are coming from (which social media channels for instance) and what search terms bring them to your site.

Stage Two: Get Strategic

A typical mistake is to place too much importance on “Likes” and “Follows” of your corporate social accounts. While this can tell you how large your audience is it is often described as “vanity statistics” because while it can make you feel good, it only indicates a subscription to your media and doesn’t signify anything of real importance to your business. Eventually you must settle on one strategic objective for your social media and measure all your activity based on success in that one area, for instance:

  • Sales leads: “gate” your highest value content (such as eBooks, webinars, reports, presentations) so that your potential customers must provide their email address to get access.

  • Customer recommendations: measure the number of times your content is shared by your audience to their own networks. These people are doing your marketing for you so they are critical to your success

  • Community building: capture and track engagements - how many times your audience is talking to you - comments on your blog, mentions or shares

On a regular basis - monthly or quarterly - you should have a formal process for reviewing the data and readjusting the strategy. This way you are always learning and always improving.

Stage Three: A/B Testing

So by getting strategic, you’ve ensured that your social media efforts are mapped tightly to your business objectives. Now it is time to get really scientific! How do you know if while successful, what you are doing is the very best it could be? By testing alternatives (hypotheses) against the norm (or control) you can establish if what you are doing could be improved. For instance different times of day; alternative channels; or different types of content. Other examples depending on your business could be to compare region against region, or male against female, product against product or discount vs a two-for-one deal. Either way the aim is to hone your efforts in such a way as to achieve the highest possible success in your social media strategy.

There are so many tools that can help you measure these outcomes, but the Salesforce Marketing Cloud is one of the few solutions that provides enterprise-class data to give you a clear view of how all your efforts are paying off.

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