Social Media Marketing: Analytics are free and plentiful, so use them
For years, the debate on social media marketing centered on ROI. Marketers asked themselves “How can we measure the impact of social media?” “What’s the ROI on Twitter?” “How do we know if LinkedIn is worthwhile?”
Thankfully, those days are behind us. Data is available from tools both paid and free. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, not every marketer has taken advantage, as you can see in the chart below from Adobe and Econsultancy, which we pulled from The Social Media Data Stacks e-book.
Five of the six metrics listed above have a greater number of marketers saying they’re important than the number of marketers tracking them. This is like saying it’s important to eat right and exercise while eating chili cheese fries and canceling your gym membership. It just doesn’t make sense.
But don’t worry — we have you covered. Here is a list of free tools you can use to start measuring each social media metric.
1. Brand Sentiment
Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. According to the chart, more than 80% of marketers say measuring brand sentiment is important, yet fewer than half actually track it. You can start gauging sentiment today by spending two minutes playing with Social Mention.
This fantastically simple and free tool provides a stunning amount of data, including a sentiment analysis of your online mentions. You can even click “positive” and “negative” to see a list of results used to generate your score. How cool is that?
2. Volume of Social Media Traffic
This one should be easy. Segmenting your incoming traffic by source will reveal which visitors come from social networks, blogs and forums. You can measure traffic in aggregate or segment it by referring site. Google Analytics is the most popular site analytics tool and is completely free.
3. Engagement with Facebook Brand Page
Facebook provides deliciously detailed metrics on interactions with your profile though its Insights platform. The free service details traffic, ‘likes,’ comments, sharing activity and other data. It will even segment the data by age, sex and region. What more could you want?
4. Engagement with Twitter Account(s)
This one is a little more abstract. People don’t normally go to your Twitter profile to read your updates, right? They see them in feeds or a tool. They really engage with your content (the tweets) by clicking your links, replying, re-Tweeting, etc.
You can monitor clicks and mentions of your links with bitly, the free URL shortening service. Just add “+” to the end of any bit.ly URL to see a dashboard (e.g. https://bitly.com/szahlt+). Also, the site Twitrratr provides free sentiment analysis, and Hashtags.org will chart the mentions of your campaign #hashtags over time. Sah-weet.
5. Frequency of Social Media Brand Mentions
We already mentioned Social Mention, but let’s reiterate. Not only will it count the mentions of your brand, but it will rank the keywords, hashtags, sources, and top users around them, too.
6. Engagement with LinkedIn Account(s)
LinkedIn reports the unique views and visits to your company profile and will segment the traffic by industry, job title and company. You can get similar stats on the audience in your LinkedIn group, as well as metrics on your audience growth and activity. Just click the Group Statistics banner ad in the lower right of any group page and you’ll see metrics such as those on the MarketingExperiments Optimization group dashboard. And yes, it’s all free.
NOTE: Measure real goals
At face value, these metrics do not mean anything. The CEO is not going to care that sentiment on Twitter is up, or that you netted 40,000 Facebook followers this year. You have to associate these metrics with money by connecting them to conversion or transactional data.
For example, you may use social metrics to help increase your audience and engagement on LinkedIn or Facebook — but how did the growth help your company? Is referral traffic from LinkedIn to your site way up? Do visitors from Facebook have higher conversion rates? Do they share your content and offers and increase your reach? All this data is available if you are willing to connect the dots.