By Alexandra Reid
As in all marketing efforts, establishing benchmarks and measuring metrics in social media are fundamental to determining success.
Benchmarks are the standards against which all measurements and metrics are measured. In order to determine if a social media strategy is effective, businesses must establish their desired outcomes and what it will take to achieve those outcomes. To track progress, key performance indicators, including competitive performance metrics to reach these targets, must be determined. But how do you determine benchmarks and which data points require measuring? And, more importantly for startups, how can you measure and track these metrics consistently to ensure targets are being reached on a limited budget?
The difference between metrics, measurements and benchmarks
According to MarketingProfs:
Measurements are the raw outcomes of a quantification process, such as a company’s numbers, ratios, and percentages
Metrics are the standards for measuring, providing target values that a company must achieve to reach a certain level of success
Benchmarks are the best measurements to aspire to, the standard by which all others are measured. Companies that set benchmarks in their industries are the ones often lauded in “top 10” and “most admired” lists and articles.
Determining your benchmarks
I hope it is widespread knowledge by now that social media requires engagement. Through social media, you want people to talk about your brand, share your content, visit your website, recommend your brand to others and purchase your products and services.
According to MarketingSherpa, assessing the relationship of data over time requires two to three years of data to accurately understand seasonality and trend. However, if you need to understand trends and establish benchmarks quickly, you can use much less data to understand basic correlations and relationships. It is possible to determine benchmarks with three to six months of data in assessing basic relationships and making actionable (and valuable) decisions.
In its Social Media Marketing Benchmark Survey, MarketingSharpa says that social media marketing objectives need to be aligned with corresponding metrics in order to allow an organisation to measure its progress in achieving the objectives and proving return on investment. This may also make the process of determining benchmarks easier for a startup in its early days of developing its business model. Recommended objectives that could be targeted and measured include: website traffic, lead generation, sales revenue, search engine rankings, brand or product reputation, brand or product awareness, customer acquisition costs, public relations, customer support quality and customer support costs.
Determining key performance indicators
If you’re operating on a limited budget, you need to commit to a focused set of metrics. Focusing on a smaller number of metrics will not give you the complete picture, but trending data over time will provide you with some valuable insight about the effectiveness of your social media efforts. Tracking the data available from your social media management tools will help you determine some key performance indicators, which is a valuable first step to determining benchmarks and measuring long-term success.
Just this morning, MarketingSherpa released its Marketing Research Chart that contains the top metrics used for measuring social media marketing impact. This chart illustrates the results from a survey of more than 3,300 marketers. The metrics include: Visitors referred to website, reach of fans, followers and subscribers, search engine ranking positions, conversion rates (registrations, purchases), leads generated, inbound links, sales revenue generated, vale of fans, followers and subscribers, brand sentiment, social bookmarks, strength or share of conversation and customer service/support savings.
These are only some examples of what could be measured and tracked using simple and free social media measurement tools. You may also want to keep track of your Klout score and your website or blog’s Alexa and Power 150 rankings.
How to measure
Some free online measurement tools that will help you collect data to reach your social media goals include:
- Google Analytics
- Hootsuite Analytics
- Twitter search
Google and Hootsuite Analytics provide detailed charts and graphs that illustrate data trends over time. The others require manual input of keywords and their results should be tracked over time using spreadsheets.
How to track
Tracking social media data collected through measurement tools will help you establish your social media benchmarks. If you neglect to track significant data, you will have no way of measuring your success, determining future goals or knowing how much of your budget you need to commit to support social media for the long term.
We use simple Google spreadsheets to track our progress because they are secure, organised and can be shared. For example, you could have one spreadsheet that tracks your social media contributions each week, including how many blog posts you commented on, Quora and LinkedIn questions you answered, how much content you shared on Twitter, and so on. At the same time, track how much time you committed to these activities. You could also have a spreadsheet that tracks your Twitter account each week, including how many followers you have, how many accounts you’re following, your Klout and PeerIndex scores, how many retweets or mentions you received, and so on. A similar exercise should be carried out for all of your social media accounts. Over time, this will give you a relatively good understanding of how effective your efforts have been and where you should steer your social media course.
Did you find this to be a helpful lesson? Any pointers, resources, or tools I missed?
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