Social media is no longer in its infancy and is no longer an optional task for businesses and brands. Indeed, building and engaging with audiences on established social networks is now a key part of business interaction. So, as social media grows into its awkward teenage years, the next step is for these companies to understand not only how to use it, but also how to derive value from it.
There is no set-in-stone standard for social media measurement, but various guidelines for unique business cases can show how social media benefits an organization by solving problems across departments, from recruiting to promotion.
So much of social media measurement is hinged on social-specific statistics that vary by individual network, i.e.: Likes, RTs, followers, etc. But viewed alone, these measurements don’t show the true value social media provides to the bottom line. Therefore, they need to be aligned with greater metrics. As businesses strive to track how tweets turn into transactions, it’s important to understand how to measure lead generation.
When it comes to measuring social media for ROI, the following example of a sales funnel shows that lead generation sits below brand awareness – defined as the potential for your brand to be seen by audiences – and before customer retention.
As a starting point, lead generation can be viewed as an indication of audience participation with your social messaging. By understanding this top level engagement, you’ll be able to improve the return on your investment by adjusting your messaging and campaigns based on audience activities.
Using social analytics is particularly important for gathering lead gen metrics. For example, using a shortened URL like Ow.ly in combination with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights will give you in-depth insight into audience interaction with your social marketing initiatives.
At the top level, measuring participation will show how successful your messaging is at driving your audience down the sales funnel toward being a lead ready to covert. This measurement counts any actions that your audience takes, including:
Retweets, @Replies – These gestures on Twitter show that your content resonated with the audience, and they were inspired to share, ask a question, or associate themselves with your brand.
Likes, Comments, Wall Posts – Likes on Facebook posts are good, and comments on your Facebook page are even better. These actions are then broadcast to their friends, which gives you a chance to reach out, reply, and build an audience.
Click-Throughs – Conversions don’t happen on Twitter or Facebook per se, but clicks from your social channels to your landing pages, ecommerce store, order page, etc. indicate that your content was interesting and relevant to your audience and resulted in them moving further down the sales funnel into the opportunity stage.
The next metric is measured as the opportunity for conversion and measured through questions like: How deep did your potential customer dig into your site after click-through? Where did they drop off? Did they opt-in to receive additional information by filling out a form and downloading materials? Or did they start filling in a form but left?
You’ll also want to look at the length of time spent at each stage of their path through your site, and identify drop-off points. Deciphering who spends the most amount of time, visits the most pages on your site, and fills out conversion forms will determine where your strongest opportunities lie.
Finally, the last stage of lead gen metrics is conversion, which defines how successful your actions are and allows you to tie social media details like tweets and Facebook posts into real dollars.
Depending on your business and campaigns, track questions like: Did they redeem a coupon from Foursquare? Did they sign up to your program when they clicked on a Twitter link? Did they buy the product you posted on your Facebook page? Did they add-on to their purchase? If yes, which demographic do they fit into?
Be sure to compare the average cost of purchases/units made by customers originating from social media channels with customers from other channels. You’ll likely plot out a clear graph of profitability by identifying patterns.
5. Set Goals, Test, and Measure
Remember, each business and brand has unique problems to solve. Rather than measuring your campaigns by traditional metrics, work back from your ultimate goal – whether it be to increase resume submissions or increase purchases – and ask the questions which help you to understand your audience's origins and motivations. Since you should measure most every action from your social media-centric campaigns, this is a great chance to experiment with your messaging including tone, voice, offers, photos, and time of day. Try different tactics, measure everything, then adjust, and you’ll watch your charts go up and to the right.