These days it seems like everyone is on the social media bandwagon, but how can you assess the effectiveness of your social media strategy?
A recent survey, commissioned by UPS, found that Canadian businesses of all types are using social media. The survey also revealed that a third of those businesses using social media are unsure of the extent of their success. If you are a small business owner, you know time is money. Few businesses can afford to waste hours on marketing tactics that don't pay off. That’s why the SBA took a look at a few of the free tools available for assessing your social media impact.
Before we jump into the tools, let's make sure you have your marketing plan in place (sample plans). A marketing plan is an important tool for business success. It outlines your target audience, goals, strategies and timeline. Entrepreneur.com recommends creating a one year plan for quarterly reference. Having clear objectives will make it much easier for you to measure your success. For more information on creating a marketing plan take a look at Small Business BC's How to Write a Marketing Plan and don't forget to research your target audience.
Tools to measure social media impact:
Reach refers to how many user you are connecting with. These tools will help you to get a sense of how far beyond your immediate network your post or your brand is extending.
Tweetreach is a social analytics tool that provides information on the impact of your Twitter conversations. There are both free and paid subscriptions available.
Socialmention is a real time search engine that searches microblogs, blogs and facebook. Businesses can search their brand to see if it is being discussed in the social media landscape. The site also offers sentiment rankings displaying whether a references to a particular topic are positive or negative.
Google Analytics provides statistics revealing how many unique visitors your site receives, how they are reaching your site and how long they stay, allowing bloggers to assess which posts receive the most traffic and when. For more on web analytics see the SBA archive.
Alexa is another source of web metrics. One of Alexa's key features is the ability to see the top queries driving traffic to your site from search engines. Alexa provides some free metrics and additional professional level services are available for purchase.
Facebook & Twitter
Hootsuite allows users to post across multiple social networks simultaneously (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, WordPress and more). Hootsuite offers visually appealing and easy to understand analytics to help you optimize your social networks. Free membership are limited to quick analytics, which provide show number stats, most popular links and breakdown where followers come from.
Crowdbooster can monitor multiple accounts in both Facebook and Twitter. Provides visual analytics of reach and followers. Among the highlights are the ability to see who your most influential followers are and recommendations on the most impactful time of day to tweet.
Untweeps: This tool searches your twitter account to assess who has not been active, making it easy to weed out inactive accounts, giving you a better sense of your reach.
Finally, the most telling way to measure the return on investment is through sales. As Christie Hall points out on the Small Business BC blog, if your business sales don't increase as a result of social media, it may not be a wise investment.
Keep in mind, this is only a brief sampling of the many tools available online to help you manage and measure social media.
For more recommendations and information:
Principle of Marketing Tutorials. KnowThis.com
How to Write a Marketing Plan. (2010) Small Business BC
5 Ways to Make Use of Social Media Tools. (2012, July 18). Business Insider.
King, C.13 Tools to Simplify Your Social Media Marketing. (2012, February 20). Social Media Examiner.
Social Media Mess. Created by KEXINO. November 12, 2011. Made available under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic licence. Last viewed July 18, 2012. Additional information about the creator can be found here.