Now that you’ve put your social media strategy into practice, the last piece of the puzzle is to start thinking about how and what to measure so you can determine your success.
Let’s begin with some generalities.
For the most part, let your concern be with the quality of your audience engagement and not about the actual number of followers or fans you have. In some cases—as with a networking strategy, for example—increasing the number of connections to others does have importance since the more you have, the more likely you are to increase your business opportunities. But remember that the overall intention behind social media for small businesses is to build a loyal audience and customer base over time, and keep the numbers secondary. Quality over quantity.
Which leads us to—that’s right—numbers.
Measuring social media is essentially about connecting the dots. If you can connect the dots between, say, how many people are sharing or commenting on your posts and an increase in your sales, you’ll know if you want to continue with the same methods, or change course. It means putting on the analyst hat and keeping track of a spreadsheet or two, but in the end you’ll be glad you did.
In this final article, we’ll talk about what you can measure for each of the example social media strategies—lead generation, customer service improvement, and networking—and what you can do with the data. Again, these are just suggestions; there may be other ways of measuring that can work just as well—or even better—for you.
Measuring Lead Generation
Track the number of shares of your Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Pinterest repins, and/or how many comments you’re getting on your blog posts. (As we hinted above, using a spreadsheet is a good idea).
Meanwhile, ask new clients how they found you. You can do this in a number of ways:
- If you direct new customers to fill out an interest form on your website, include a line in the form that reads something like: “How did you hear about us?”, “Did you find us through our blog? Facebook page? YouTube video?” etc.
- Or if new customers are walking into a physical location, have your sales or customer service reps ask them in person and keep track of the answers.
Now, put it all together by determining if the number of shares on your Facebook page is leading to new customers and/or increased sales. The same goes for comments on your blog posts, repins, or shares of your videos.
Then weed out what’s working:
- If your data shows that your blog posts are the ones generating more sales, then continue with the strategy and commit to a consistent schedule of posts.
- For example, you could spend one to two hours per week working on your blog, depending on your specific sales goals.
- The same could apply to any of the others—Facebook, YouTube, or Pinterest—depending on what you find in your data.
The point is that when you can see for yourself what’s working, do more of it and become consistent with it.
Measuring Customer Service Improvement
Track the time it takes to respond to a customer service issue online:
- Can your customer service reps completely resolve an issue in just a few minutes?
- Or does it take several minutes?
- Does the conversation with the customer often need to continue offline to maintain a good level of service?
If your aim is to reduce the time it takes to resolve an issue, try providing an incentive to service reps who can effectively handle issues within a certain time limit. Or come up with an escalation plan when an issue is too complex or becomes too heated to resolve online.
Another idea is to track the number of back-and-forth responses needed between customers and service reps before the issue is resolved:
- Are your service reps able to communicate in clear and succinct ways, suggesting fewer back-and-forths?
- Or are your customer questions and issues too confusing to avoid multiple back-and-forths?
Try engaging your customers by asking them directly what kind of improvements they’d like to see in your products or services. Sometimes those quick and spontaneous answers from customers shed the most light.
Consider putting together a list of the most common customer service issues and the easiest and quickest ways to resolve them, then have your service reps keep them nearby as a handy reference.
Let the natural online interactions between your service reps and customers show where your pain points are, thus inspiring you to get creative in how you can improve both customer service and your product(s).
Track the number of interactions you have on LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or any other networking sites you signed up for. Interactions can include emails, contact requests, questions directed to you, answers to your questions from others, links shared, or views of your profile.
Then determine if the interactions are leading to:
- opportunities to directly participate in events, panels, forums, and discussions
- opportunities to speak, appear, exhibit, or represent your business in any other way, either locally or within your industry
- business leads, partnerships, affiliations, or any other invitations to collaborate or join
- increases in the number of connections with people you did not previously know
As with measuring lead generation, take the time to determine which interactions on which sites are leading to any of the opportunities mentioned above. Then commit to a consistent schedule of those successful interactions, depending on your specific networking goals.
If your desire is simply to expand your circle, take it one step further by determining what’s influential to the people within your circle. Do they respond to expert opinions? Do they chime in on lively discussions? Are they looking for ways to join groups or take part in industry events? Find ways to become an influencer within your circle and develop both credibility and trust in your business as a result.
As you’ve probably seen, there are no magic answers when it comes to social media, but sometimes there are magic accidents. When you have an understanding of both the practical details and the big picture, you never know what kind of doors will open as you participate in social media for your small business.
Every success story is different from the next. What’s your success story going to be?
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