What You're Missing on Social Media
A social media campaign that is unsupported by data will never be as useful as a well executed, data-backed content strategy. Your social media efforts should be valuable and go beyond creating accounts on Twitter or Pinterest for the sake of having them.
Whether you’re joining the social media community or you have a dedicated following, you should always start with a set of clearly defined goals. These could be anything from generating leads to raising brand awareness to lowering the response time of a customer service rep.
After you define your goals, find platforms where your audience is engaged and figure out what types of content are appropriate for your brand on each platform. If you’re looking to reach C-level executives, maybe you want to put more of your focus on LinkedIn, rather than Facebook or Twitter. Do some testing on each of your social platforms and see which content does better on which sites: does your audience respond to the original content you’ve written, re-posts by other thought leaders or funny dog office pictures? Hint: It’s hard to beat funny dog office pictures.
Social media is great as a supplemental strategy, but it shouldn’t replace any of your online marketing efforts like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC). In fact, social media goes hand-in-hand with SEO.
Why do you need social media?
Search engines are frequently connecting social signals from brands, making the content you produce through social media very valuable in determining where you rank in the SERPs.
Example 1: Google rolled out their Knowledge Graph in 2012 as a way to enrich search results with additional information about your search. If you search for “Nike”, you’ll get a brief history, some key people and a recent tweet about a new shoe release.
Example 2: What do your tweets and Facebook posts mean for your rankings? A recent study done by SearchMetrics showed the correlation between several factors and search engine rankings. For the second year in a row, sites that had consistent engagement and presence on social media ranked higher than those without a consistent presence.
Engagement vs. Influence vs. Interactions
Now that you’re convinced social media can help your online presence, measuring those efforts becomes the next biggest hurdle. Page likes and followers are the most obvious metrics you should be looking at, but they’re not the ones you actually need to look at. There are a lot of tools to help you dig a little deeper and create longer-term goals, backed by actual data.
Sprout Social is a great resource to manage several social media accounts (mainly Twitter, Facebook and Google+) at once and track your efforts over time.
According to Sprout Social, there are a couple of metrics you’ll definitely want to keep in mind:
- Engagement - Your engagement is tied to how well you communicate with your audience. This can be one of two things. Shares on Facebook and mentions or retweets on Twitter contribute to your overall engagement as does actually responding to your audience. Whole Foods is a great example of engagement on Twitter.
- Influence - Influence is your company’s growth and interest with your audience. As your influence grows, so does your brand awareness and enthusiasm for your brand.
- Interactions - Interactions combine the number of times your company’s username was mentioned through Facebook stories, Twitter mentions or retweets.
- Impressions - The combined potential audience that saw an interaction relating to your username. Remember, this is a potential number, not the number of people who actually saw your post.
If you’re having trouble defining your audience or connecting to new influencers, Followerwonk is an analyst’s dream. Followerwonk focuses on Twitter and gives you pages of metrics to analyze your followers. A “Social Authority” number is attached to every follower, which is comprised of:
- Your retweet rate
- Recency of your tweets
- Other user data, including follower count
Social Authority not only allows you to see your most influential followers, but allows you to determine what is successful activity, like best times to post and where your most concentrated following is.
Both Sprout Social and Followerwonk allow you to compare your metrics against your competitors’. You can find opportunity where your competitors fall short.
In the end, having both a data-backed social strategy and the right tools to measure the data is important. There is a huge value in having social metrics based around engagement, instead of only looking at the numbers of users who like your page. Data gives you the ability to create great content your audience will connect with, as well as measure progress toward high level objectives like building brand awareness.