I can’t think of a single company with which I’ve had contact in the last year or two that isn’t somehow engaged in social media marketing. Maybe it’s a Facebook page or an Instagram account or maybe it’s just executives posting on LinkedIn. It’s always surprising when I inquire about the other end of that content funnel. How is social working? What are your goals? The surprise has to do with the lack of a coherent plan to track and measure the social media efforts these companies are making. I’d like to provide a little food for thought on that today.
First, it goes without saying that however you’re measuring social it should also integrate into whichever analytics platform you’re using. It’s really pretty easy to tag, for example, any URL with the parameters needed by Google Analytics to report social activity beyond the defaults offered along with any supporting ads you’re running or email campaigns. It’s a little more effort but possible even to track “dark social” that way using a combination of custom segments and/or third party tools. Dark social, by the way, is the term used to refer to all that wonderful content you produce that’s shared among readers via email or text messages or some other non-public platform. Some folks have figured that as much as 85% or more of content is shared that way, so you shouldn’t ignore it.
Back to our topic. Analytics measure “how much”. In addition, you need to be measuring how readers feel. It’s not a great situation to have a lot of consumers posting and sharing negative things about your brand. If you’re only measuring how much activity, that might look like a win. At the most simple level, you should be paying attention to comments and posts. There are free tools available to locate and compile this information. You can then do your own sentiment analysis or use a tool to do so if the volume is just too great (a good problem to have!).
Finally, you should try to understand how many of the people who follow you on one platform are also tracking you on others. These “superfans” are probably your best targets and the ability to identify them in order to reward their loyalty is a massively impactful bit of research. You can’t ignore the analytics most platforms offer as well. They can help in understanding not only who your audience is but what resonates with them (and that’s really true if you can add the dark social shares discussed earlier).
Wha to measure? I’m not going to tell you since whatever it is needs to reflect your business goals and the tactics you’ve taken. There is a pretty good list in this article to help your thinking but I’d urge you to get beyond the quantitative things such as “likes” or “followers” and more into the qualitative things such as engagement. What’s important is that you not just throw your social efforts out into the digital ozone. OK?