The value of social media is defined by its ability to expand and strengthen the relationships that are formed between a business and its customers. The challenge is that there are many ways to evaluate and measure this concept, and many businesses struggle with how to do it-- especially when their instinct is simply to apply traditional sales metrics to social media metrics.
To ensure your business is poised to properly measure and evaluate the success of your social strategy, it’s important to understand the common stumbling blocks that other businesses face. Here are the five biggest mistakes that businesses make when measuring success on social media:
- Tracking only the most obvious social media metrics: Everyone understands that more likes, shares and follows are a good thing on social media, and these measures certainly are a fundamental building block of success on social media-- But what does it really mean from a bottom-line perspective when your business gets 2,000 likes on a Facebook post? The reality is that measuring success on social media must go much deeper than tracking the most obvious, surface-level metrics. To really understand the value of your social media efforts, you need to be able to gauge the meaning of all of your likes, shares and follows-- and how they dovetail with your strategic business goals.
- Experimenting without proper controls: Social media offers limitless opportunities to experiment with different types of messaging, content and strategy, and to reach out and target different niches of potential customers. While all of this experimentation can be fun, you must be able to objectively measure which experiments are working-- and which ones aren’t. A perfectly controlled experiment on social media isn’t realistic, but at the same time, you must be able to implement some controls to measure the relative effectiveness of a particular technique. Sometimes your only viable solution is simply to look at the “before” and “after”-- and that’s okay! As long as you remember to properly document both stages.
- Viewing success in relation to the competition: Businesses instinctively tend to measure their success on social media in relation to their competition: “How many Twitter followers do we have in relation to XYZ Company?” “Are we posting as much social media content as XYZ Company?” But this thought process is very superficial, as these measurements don’t tell a meaningful story about the strength and breadth of the relationships between a business and its customers. For example-- it’s much more revealing and important for you to understand how your Twitter followers are helping you build your corporate reputation and brand than to understand how many of them also follow your biggest competitors on Twitter.
- Using paid media to buy an audience: Traditional business practices dictate that if you want to build your customer base, you buy ads and wait for the good results to pour in. Many businesses consequently tend to think that they can buy their audience on social media. They use paid media to ramp up their number of shares, likes and followers on social media-- and define their success around those metrics. The problem is that these superficial measures don’t reveal much about the strength of the relationships between a business and its customers. Bottom line-- It's just not real and people know!
- Blindly buying ads on social media: As ad sales on social media explode, businesses are feeling increasing peer pressure to jump on the social media bandwagon and to spend part of their marketing budgets on paid advertising via sites like Facebook and Twitter. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing this-- unless you are doing it wrong. A successful social media strategy is not defined by the relationships that you buy, but by the relationships you cultivate and strengthen through a sustained, proactive social media strategy.