There’s a reason every company (and every person, it seems) is on social media. Among other benefits, social campaigns have the power to increase leads and conversions and put companies on the map by expanding their following and reach. They also provide an opportunity to gain valuable insight into your company’s consumer base.

Of course, not all social campaigns are created equal. In order to succeed at social media, it’s important to make your efforts measurable. By doing so, you can track progress over time to learn what works and what doesn’t, and how you can refine your strategy for even greater success. Here’s how make social measurable.

Best Practices for Social Media Measurement

Make a habit of implementing these practices before and during your social campaigns and you’re all but guaranteed to see a greater return on investment.

Determine the most important metrics for your campaign

Before starting a campaign, be sure to select which metrics are most important for determining whether the campaign was successful. Identifying these metrics up front will allow you to design the campaign in such a way that you’re able to capture meaningful data. You may choose to focus on impressions, engagement, leads, conversions, and/or time on site. It all comes down to what best suits your goals.

Identify your goal(s)

It’s important to know what you’re measuring when you conduct a social media campaign, and it’s critical to know why you’re undertaking the campaign in the first place. Before designing any posts, think carefully about what you want to accomplish with your social media efforts.

Effective social media goals should dovetail with the overarching goals of your company. For example, the objective of your social media campaign may be to retain existing customers, increase brand awareness, generate leads, or convert leads to sales—all of which would enable the overarching goal of company growth.

Align your goals with your metrics

Once you identify your campaign objectives, revisit the question of metrics. The data you collect should allow you to accurately assess whether you achieve your goals. To ensure your goals and metrics successfully align, define your goals with SMART methodology. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed (i.e., they should be achievable within a designated time frame).

Determine how you will define ROI

Metrics are especially helpful when it comes to determining a campaign’s return on investment (ROI). But with social media, it’s not as simple as saying, “ROI will be determined by the number of sales we have after the campaign.” Just because you don’t see an immediate spike in sales doesn’t mean your campaign wasn’t successful at building brand awareness and expanding your potential consumer base. Thus, it’s important to define the intended ROI for each campaign.

It can be helpful to think through the series of actions users can take that would eventually lead them to make a purchase. Then, determine a way to track those actions. By measuring every step of the way, you can spot positive returns even before you make a sale.

Track and measure social media leads and purchases

In many cases, your campaign goals will relate to social media leads and purchases. Even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on these metrics because they’re directly connected to your company’s bottom line. Tracking codes within links sent through social are an easy way to capture this information; use the free Google URL Builder to get started.

Measure cost and time savings

Social media can generate significant cost and time savings in areas including customer service, training, and communications. While these savings may not be the immediate objective of a given campaign, tracking them can help inform your future.

Be prepared to change directions

Social media continually evolves, which means your approach to social campaigns needs to evolve too. Meet with your team on a regular basis to assess whether it’s time to change your direction, tone, or metrics.

What to Measure

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of measuring your social campaigns. Now let’s look more closely at metrics specific to certain social platforms. While your needs will vary, the following metrics offer a good starting point for any campaign.

Facebook

  • Net likes and unlikes: The number of people who like your page and the number who stop following your page
  • Insights: The number of fans who have visited your site and the number who have converted
  • Reach: The number of people who encountered an impression from your content each month
  • Engagement: Clicks, likes, comments, shares—basically any indication that a reader has engaged with your content

Twitter

  • Follower growth: The change in the number of people who follow your company over time
  • Frequency: How often you tweet in a given time period (this is especially useful if you compare it to your metrics for follower growth)
  • Engagement: The number of replies, mentions, and/or retweets generated by a given post or series of posts
  • Brand mentions: What people say about your company
  • Content type: Track this metric long enough, and you’ll learn whether your readers respond best to visuals, links, or text.

LinkedIn

Tools to Measure Social Successes and Flops

The metrics outlined above will provide a solid baseline of information. But it’s important that you don’t limit yourself to these metrics alone. In order to really learn what makes your current and potential customers tick, you may find it helpful to rely on internal analytics or third-party tools. Here are three great options.

Klear

Klear provides valuable insights into both your company’s social media efforts and the overall landscape of your industry. The service offers social media analytics and reporting, helps identify industry influencers, and can even help companies develop a strategy that puts them on the map within their respective industry.

Simply Measured

Simply Measured is designed to help companies take social media campaigns to the next level. The service helps measure campaign performance, develop effective strategies, and synchronize tactics across all major social networks in order to create a well-oiled social media machine.

Social Crawlytics

Much like Klear, this service is all about helping you understand where you stand in your industry. Social Crawlytics helps companies identify influencers and determine their competitors’ most shared content in order to hone their content marketing strategies.

Social Studio

Social Studio helps brands build more meaningful relationships with customers by incorporating social media into your marketing, customer service, and sales. With this service, you can harness conversations on social media platforms to listen, analyze, publish, and engage with your audience on a one to one basis.

Conclusion

Social media is a tremendous asset, especially for companies that really know how to use it. If you don’t measure your strategies and efforts there’s little room to grow. Conversely, by developing social campaigns that are measurable and organized around SMART objectives, you can take your company’s growth to new heights while saving time and energy.

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