By Silvia Brasher, guest blogger for Lori Turner-Wilson
Many small businesses devote significant time and resources to social media presence. Utilizing social media platforms to connect with your market is no longer 'savvy.' It's expected by today's consumer. Used effectively, social media is a dream come true for marketers. Brands can increase their messaging frequency while leveraging their audience to share content virally among their own connections, creating possibilities unheard of by traditional media channels.
With ever-increasing opportunities to plug into their target consumer base, business owners are often left wondering whether they're making the most of their investment, and according to Boot Camp Digital, 72 percent of businesses that use social media don't know how to evaluate it effectively. Measuring success in social media can be hazy, as there's no neat formula for calculating a financial return.
While challenging, analyzing the effectiveness of your social media efforts can be accomplished by utilizing a variety of measurement techniques.
As a starting point, drive traffic to your website via your social media channels. Use Google Analytics to evaluate your referral traffic: which social media platform is driving the majority of your website viewers? Monitor the time of day and subject matter of your most popular content to determine what works best.
Offer a deal available exclusively through Twitter or Facebook, and use a unique promotion code given only through social media for tracking. Or consider posting a link to a particular landing page and monitor traffic to that page. Monitor your engagement to ensure that you have the attention of your audience and adapt accordingly.
Do not focus exclusively on the number of your fans and followers, as it's what happens after you gain a fan through social media that counts. Your followers aren't interested in your advertising as such -- they're predominantly interested in the value you can offer. Use the advantage of real-time commentary on your content to tailor your message to your audience -- and watch your engagement grow.
A Facebook 'share' is more valuable than a 'like' -- your fan just became a real-life advertiser for you, and their network will be more likely to assume your credibility and 'like' you as well.
When scrutinizing your social media across multiple channels, consider Hootsuite, a one-stop assessment tool (basic features are free) which allows you to view all of your platforms, schedule and publish content and monitor any and all engagement with your brand. In this tool, set up feeds and monitor everything from direct messages to brand mentions to mentions of key words of your own choosing.
Above all, remember that social media is more than a free advertising channel. When utilized efficiently, it will work for you in enhancing customer service and growing your brand presence. As social media continues to provide opportunity, hone your strategy to ensure value to your business.
Silvia Brasher is a copywriter and social media strategist with RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).