Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s impossible to ignore the omnipresence of social media in our daily lives – both personal and business – as well as its impact on society’s perceptions and decisions. Businesses still fall across the spectrum ranging from very little social engagement to multi-platform social media initiatives that reach a global audience, but adoption has steadfastly increased, and with it, continued questions about which metrics are most valuable.
At first, companies were only concerned about fans and followers – how many and how to get more. This was certainly important but didn’t address the quality of engagement. Next came monitoring the disposition of comments, posts and tweets, as well as tracking re-tweets/re-posts and evaluating the relevancy of the engaged audience. However, the question of ROI wasn’t answered and only basic social media monitoring tools were available to help track progress.
Even though the mainstream social media “past” only consists of a few years, today’s savvy companies have evolved tremendously with regard to social media programs, with many executing on multi-pronged strategic social media initiatives that require significant investment. As such, metrics have expanded to help prove ROI, including tracking web leads that originate from social sources, measuring the level of activity among all members of your social networks (length of time spent, number of pages visited, new vs. unique visitors), and evaluating quantity and sentiment of brand mentions across all social platforms. These types of metrics are most measurable in larger organizations where the impact is clearer, and sophisticated social media monitoring tools are often needed. Also tracking these deeper elements requires time investment and close coordination with lead-gen and other online marketing initiatives.
In any case, this evolution of social metrics indicates a major shift in business thinking around social media participation – it is no longer an unproven, experimental strategy, but rather a powerful marketing force to be harnessed for real business returns.