Our first installment gave you some food for thought regarding what is achievable through Social Networking: Search Marketing versus Direct Marketing. This second installment should clarify the specific metrics that are worth tracking.
There are, in fact, many indicators of success that can be considered in unison when planning almost any social media campaign. The most common are as follows:
1. ‘Organic’ Brand Awareness Networking – Growing your network reach through the strategic release of valuable content
When people share your content socially, your audience grows. As your audience grows, more people are ready to receive your next message and share it. The content need not necessarily generate direct sales just so long as it keeps you or your brand at the forefront of your connections’ minds and attracts more connections at the same time.
Primary measure of success: Number of new connections/published piece of content
2. Direct Promotion – Pushing a particular message, product or price etc across networks over a set period of time
Sales can be generated directly through social media promotions. While the tone-of-voice must be quite precise, people will usually respond well to one-off promotions offered through networking sites. These campaigns essentially add value in the form of a loyalty reward. Of course you may find that you have an influx of new ‘friends’ and so genuine loyalty may become a concern, but any new connections will be there to receive and share your next campaign content: So don’t worry about it being paid forward!
Primary measure of success: Number of deals redeemed/total network reach
3. Viral Promotion – Releasing some form of media that is designed to self-propagate through word-of-mouth and ‘shares’ (usually an entertaining video, song or game, although any content can ‘go viral’ if it offers value and the market timing is right)
Viral campaigns are less likely to be successful as they depend on a great many variables; but the rewards are great for those whose content reaches the desired heights. They can be cheap to create too. Successful viral marketing campaigns generate brand awareness and direct promotion opportunities, as described above, but due to the size of the campaigns (speaking generally) they also create fantastic PR opportunities.
Primary measure of success: Number of content shares/number of content views
4. Thought Leadership – Releasing content that positions you or your brand as experts in your given field(s)
Social networking sites allow you to offer articles, how-to’s, thought pieces, white papers etc… eventually helping you become a central information hub for anyone interested in your industry within your natural audience parameters. If people trust you, your brand will attract more followers and those followers will see more value in your products/services.
Primary measure of success: Number of return visits for information/number of unique visits
5. Relationship/Brand Management – Dealing with customer perceptions on a mass-media platform that also allows for personal communication
Unfortunately, one must assume that all brands will fall from grace at one point or other in their customers’ eyes. How much so depends largely on the Gods, but more so on the speed, accuracy, tone and reach of the response. Social networking sites are perhaps the most ideal platforms available for taking group or individual feedback and offering personalised advice/apologies while still making very open and public steps toward a resolution. Publishing is instant, media space is cheap if not free, the reach is great and the editorial policy can be more forgiving than some traditional publishing methods (i.e. direct mail).
Primary measure of success: Feedback
So long as you understand the metrics of your chosen strategy, you can easily assess your campaign’s efficiency. Just remember that you don’t have to nail yourself to a single metric. Create your own mix… Then mix it up! You may find that while your plan was to improve on a particular metric, you notice good results from another: So stay flexible!