Every marketing initiative must prove its worth (i.e. provide a return on investment), but when you’re working in a virtual space, as with social media, distinguishing the value is not as cut and dry. That is, of course, unless you’re using analytics.
As with all inbound marketing efforts, analytics are necessary to see what is and is not working, gaps in the marketplace, consumer demand, reach, and more. Still, many small businesses are missing the mark in terms of social media analytics, and this can lead to frustration. Advertisers and business owners see the importance of social media participation — it’s a prime way to connect with consumers as these networks are where people communicate, shop, share ideas, and hang out — but without leveraging the platforms correctly and tracking results, it’s easy to miss out on everything social media could offer your business.
There are different levels of social media analytics and, unfortunately, many businesses are functioning at the most basic, least rewarding stage. You can compare these levels to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (do you remember psychology 101?) in that those who are operating at the bottom are getting by on only metaphorical food and water whereas those at the top are self-actualized, evolved, and capable of problem solving.
To explain, let’s look at the stages of development for social media analytics:
Track Growth of Followers
At this stage, small businesses know how many followers, fans, subscribers, likes, etc. they have but not much else. If they’re at the cusp of moving up a stage, they may have tracked discussions and know who is talking about their brand and how.
Look for Patterns
At stage two, businesses monitor followers and look for patterns in discussions, communities, shares, fans, and the like. They’ve noticed what types of content promotes participation and growth.
Monitor Brand Loyalty
Those in stage three continue the analytics from levels one, two, and three, but they also understand that certain consumer behaviors lead to brand loyalty. As such, they monitor things like comments per user, recommendations, reshare activity, and more.
Track Return on Investment
Businesses in stage four analyze at an advanced level. They do everything from steps one through three as well as set goals for their campaign. By setting goals and monitoring whether they meet those objectives, businesses have a clear understanding of their ROI. The goals vary from campaign to campaign, but they often include things such as leads earned, subscribers, phone calls, and actual sales.
Analyze Data and Adjust
The most sophisticated social media marketing plans take everything they’ve learned from all other stages and analyze it as a whole to look for ways to grow their ROI. For instance, if they didn’t quite meet their goals from stage 4, they’ll look back over the data and pinpoint areas for improvement. And even if they did reach all their objectives, they realize social media is an ongoing process and continue to use analytics to achieve even better results.
If you want to get the most out of social media, your small business has to continually operate at stage five. This requires performing detailed month to month (at the very least) analysis, scrutinizing an assortment of variables, and ensuring all departments work closely together so patterns are recognizable. Naturally, all this requires a lot of work (not to mention know-how) on top of everyone’s usual responsibilities. If your business doesn’t have a marketing team who can work full time on social media, you should consider hiring out this task to a professional inbound marketing company that specializes in social media.
What stage is your social media analytics? Are you where you should be?