A Primer for Measuring Success
How well are your business’ social media efforts paying off? You can’t know for sure unless you make a point of looking at numbers to analyze what’s working and what isn’t.
Your social media business plan should identify specific metrics that you will monitor as a means to achieve the goals you’ve set out. The measurements that matter – and the sources you’ll use to get them – will vary based on your specific goals. Possible sources include:
- Analytics in each social media platform: Most, if not all, of the social networks you use for your business will offer at least basic analytics for business pages. Generally, these include fan/follower numbers, and some sort of engagement metrics such as numbers of likes, clicks and shares. These metrics help you monitor the overall health and growth of your page and learn what kinds of posts are most engaging for your audience.
- Your website analytics: If you’re trying to drive clicks to your website or sign-ups through forms located on your website – online appointment bookings or email newsletter subscriptions, for example – you can use your website analytics to measure these activities. You should be able to see where your website traffic comes from, which allows you to see the amount of traffic coming from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever social networks you use. If you don’t already have traffic analytics on your website and would like to, Google Analytics offers a very robust and easy-to-implement platform at no cost. If you want to track specific links, you can use a trackable URL shortener such as bitly or goo.gl.
- Conversations with clients: If your goals include attracting new clients or increasing office visits by current clients, then you need to be able to trace the source of actual client visits. Although you could use discount codes for this, a no-cost method is simply to ask your clients when they come to the office – especially new clients and those who come in for wellness checks or for specific services that you have promoted via social media. This will help you assess not only your social media, but your appointment reminder cards and other marketing efforts as well. You’ll want a way to measure and keep track of these answers over time, so you might want to assign someone to write them down and track them in a spreadsheet. Consider asking your receptionist to ask these questions of all clients during check-in.
- Social media analytics tools: If you want more data on your social media performance than the above tools provide, you can find tools specifically meant to help with this. Some are free; some have a cost. Many social media management tools – for example, Hootsuite or Buffer – include analytics tools that you might find more robust or more user-friendly than the analytics associated with the individual social networks you use. These tools often can help with scheduling future social media posts as well, so you might find they have multiple benefits. This list of tools might be a good starting point, or you can just search for “social media analytics tools” in a search engine like Google.
Slow and steady progress is good
Don’t worry if you don’t immediately have a huge number of fans/followers, or clicks, shares and comments on your posts after you start your page. In fact, you’re not likely to see that – not right away. What you’re looking for is slow but steady growth, not overnight miracles. And remember, quality interactions will always be a better driver of success than quantity of fans/followers.
To the extent that you do – or don’t – see growth in your fan/follower numbers and engagement with your posts, it could be a reflection of the overall quality of your social media content. If you want to see more growth, look at the content analytics available in your social media platform to tell you what kind of posts work best for you, and make those a larger part of your content mix. Experiment with posting at different times of day, and see if certain times work better than others with your audience. To the extent that you see progress against your overall social media and business goals, it can also be a reflection of how well your content aligns with the specific goals you’ve set out in your social media strategy.
Just getting started with social media?
If you’re just getting started with social media, take time before you publish your new page to get current data to use as benchmarks for any metrics you will want to track. Will you be measuring website traffic from Facebook? Find out how many visits you’re already getting from Facebook; you might be surprised to see that it’s already generating some of your website traffic. Are you looking to increase the number of clinic visits per client? Find out how many visits per year your clients currently average. You need a benchmark for each of your measurements, so you can see if your social media efforts are effective.
You can assess your social media efforts on Facebook by using Facebook Insights, which is a free tool available to all page administrators within the Facebook administration panel. On your clinic’s page you’ll see a box labeled “Insights” toward the top of the page, right above your cover photo. Click on “See All” to access Insights. Here’s an example of what the Insights dashboard will look like.
Page Likes: This is the total number of page likes, as well as new page likes from the past couple of weeks.
Post Reach: In Facebook parlance, “Reach” is the number of people who saw your post. Your post counts as having reached someone when it is loaded and shown in the News Feed. If a follower of your page shares a post, that post can then show up in their friends’ News Feeds as well, increasing the post’s reach.
Engagement: Engagement takes into account likes, comments, and post clicks on your page. In this example, 11,114 have engaged with the content, compared with a total of the 38,635 people who like/follow the page.
The dashboard also shows more detailed information about your most recent posts, and lets you compare high-level metrics for your page with those for other pages. You also have the opportunity to drill down to more detailed information on likes, reach, visits, posts, videos and people – the actual fans who have liked your page.
Analytics for Other Social Networks
Most other social networks also offer analytics to business users. Twitter, for example, has an analytics dashboard that lets you see impressions, top tweets, data on your followers, and more. You can identify the people who are most engaged with your content, such as your top follower, or who’s retweeting you the most. You also can see which of your tweets have generated the most interactions, which topics interest your audience, and what types of content perform best – all of which can guide you in identifying what types of items are most likely to appeal to your audience. You might find, for example, that your followers are more interested in dogs than cats, or have an interest in science news. This can help you plan future tweets and identify content to share on your timeline.
Pinterest similarly offers an analytics dashboard showing the number of impressions and viewers your pins are attracting; which pins outperform others; and information about your audience, such as where they are located, what types of devices they use (web, Mobile web, Apple or other phone or tablet), as well as what their interests include.
Whatever social networks you decide to use, be sure to explore and use the available analytics to help you build engagement with your page.