Sometimes business owners complain that it’s hard to track the effectiveness of social media marketing (SMM) and online marketing in general, but in reality, you can learn so much more from an online campaign than you can from most traditional strategies.

Since people leave a “trail” everywhere they go on the internet, you can see exactly how many folks are talking about your brand, their feelings about it, what they are doing on your pages, and more. With ordinary campaigns you never really know who is seeing your message or how they react to it.

There is a multitude of ways to measure the success of your social media efforts, but here are some you should definitely not ignore:

Share of Voice

In terms of social media, share of voice refers to how much of the online conversation is devoted to your brand over your competitors.

Knowing this information provides valuable insight into how many social media users are aware of your business and find you worth discussing.  Obviously, you want more people talking about you than the competition, and examining this metric will tell you where you stand and which channels are in need of improvement.

To find your share of voice, simply divide the number of conversations/mentions of your brand by the total conversations/mentions of all other competing brands. Or, to make things easier, you can use a free tool, such as Social Mention, or invest in a social monitoring program like Radian6.

Brand Volume

How can I measure social media successIn addition to comparing your number of mentions to the competition, you should also judge them against your previous history to gauge how your efforts are working.

Comparing your numbers on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis can give you an idea of the overall trend (whether it’s up, down, or the same). And definitely take special notice of how things change at the start of a new strategy. There’s no sense doing the same things over and over if you aren’t seeing any growth.

Measure Sentiment

Of course, just tracking mentions of your brand doesn’t really tell the whole story. After all, it doesn’t help to have a large share of voice if most of the comments are negative. Thus, you also need to monitor the sentiment behind the conversations — i.e. are people satisfied or unsatisfied with your business.

There are sentiment analysis tools that can track this, but let’s face it, computers aren’t exactly the best judge of emotion and incapable of understanding sarcasm. So, to get an accurate measurement, you need to examine this manually.

Read through your mentions and mark them as positive, negative, or neutral. Monitor them over time and see how they change. Hopefully, the good will significantly outweigh the bad. If you have a lot of neutral comments, you may need to step up your marketing efforts and show consumers what you really have to offer.

Engagement

Not only do you want people discussing your brand in general, but you also want them talking to you and interacting with your other followers. Social media is meant for… well, socializing, so if people aren’t commenting, replying, and joining in on your page’s discussions, then you are missing the point of social media.

Also, the more you can engage your followers, the more likely they are to become loyal to your business and share your brand with others — the crux of any SMM campaign.

Increased Followers/Fans

Perhaps the simplest, yet still important, data to track is your level of audience growth. In other words, are you consistently getting more Twitter followers, Facebook Fans, Google+ circle members, etc., or have your numbers remained stagnant?

If you’re not seeing much increase, try looking back at a time where you received the highest growth, and try to determine what caused the spike. Did you post some great photos, link to a particular article, or get the attention of a social media influencer? Once you determine the cause, try to recreate the formula.

If you’ve always struggled to find an audience, it is likely time to reevaluate the type of content you’re delivering.

That said, remember, success in social media isn’t just a numbers game — always shoot for quality over quantity. There’s no point having thousands of followers if they’re not genuinely interested in your brand.

Click-Through Rate to Site Links

As with everything in internet marketing, links matter. One of the main purposes of nearly all social media campaigns is to drive traffic to the business‘ other web properties (whether it’s their main website, a microsite, or something else) for the purposes of sales, conversions, or awareness.

So, you should always monitor whether people are using your links and their behavior after they land on your site. There are several ways to monitor this, including using Google Analytics, to see where your inbound traffic is originating, and to discover other important data, such as unique page views, time on page, and total pages viewed.

Again, this is without a doubt something you should pay particular attention to while running contests or special incentives, so you can see if they are working or not.

Platform Reach

Platform reach refers to the strength of your brand presence on multiple social networks. Put simply, do you have a lot of mentions on all the major social networks?

Even if you don’t, this isn’t necessarily a problem since not every platform will fit your demographic. For instance, if you primarily want to target 20 to 35-year-old males, you may not be concerned about having a presence on Pinterest, which is very female dominated.

The point is to make sure you have a strong reach across the networks that most benefit your business, and if you find you’re not getting much attention in a particular platform, you should make a point to put more effort into that area of the campaign.

Mobile Mentions

With the popularity of smartphones, tablets, and people’s tendency to be always on the move, social media is becoming more of a mobile activity, and an increase in your mobile mentions and interactions is a good sign your business is keeping up with the trend.

Also, tracking consumer’s mobile dealings with your brand is vital if you have QR codes, mobile coupons, etc. as part of your strategy.

Return on Effort

How can I measure my social media efforts

When you are analyzing your marketing results in so many different detailed areas, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees, so to speak. In other words, is your SMM (as a whole) worth the effort you’re putting in?

A social media management tool can make it easier to see the overall picture, or you can devise your own monitoring system. Either way, it’s important to calculate your total growth against the time and money you are devoting to SMM.

Only you know exactly what your time is worth, but a good campaign should ultimately lead to an increase in conversions and sales. If you aren’t seeing this then it is time to reevaluate. You may want to consider hiring this area of your business out to a professional social media manager who can focus on it exclusively and has the know-how to deliver results.

Does your business use the metrics above (or others) in analyzing your social media campaign? If so, which do you find the most useful?

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