For example, let’s say your small business launches a Twitter account this afternoon. How will you measure the success of that account? By measuring number of followers, of course! And if you want to get really spiffy, you could also track how many RTs you’re getting and your level of exposure!
Right? The problem with this approach is that we aren’t factoring in your businesses strategy and goals for using Twitter. What are you trying to accomplish? How will getting more followers and RTs help you achieve your goals?
When I measure the effectiveness of my own Twitter efforts, I look at two metrics:
1 – Referral traffic from Twitter to this blog
2 – Leads generated via people I have connected with on Twitter.
That’s it. Because my strategy is to use Twitter to increase my awareness among potential clients by sharing content that drives traffic back to this blog (referral traffic), and to engage in conversations and network with people so that they will hire me to consult/train for them (leads).
I was having a conversation recently with a new client about using Twitter, and they told me they were going to track the number of followers as their primary metric for success. They even had plotted out X% growth that they wanted to see happen over time. I told them it was fine to track number of followers, but follower growth needed to be a function of them achieving what should be their larger goals for Twitter. This particular client wanted to use Twitter as a way to boost awareness for themselves, and the products they offer. They were competing against 2 main competitors that had much higher levels of awareness.
So I suggested to them that we focus on using Twitter as a way to drive interest back to your blog and website. So we went from tracking just followers, to also looking at things like:
1 – Referral traffic from Twitter to the blog (and as part of the metrics associated with the blog, look at referral traffic from the blog to the website).
2 – Level of engagement on the blog.
3 – Number of links generated to the blog.
4 – Sales leads generated via Twitter.
5 – Downloads of white papers via a link shared on Twitter (also share same link on the blog and compare/contrast download rates)
Now sometimes, it can be hard to know for sure that a new lead or link was generated via a contact on Twitter (or another social site). That’s why it pays to ALREADY be tracking these metrics, then when you make a change (like adding a Twitter account), if one of the metrics you are already tracking suddenly increases, it’s a good bet that what you changed (adding a Twitter account) made the difference.
For example, let’s say that you launch a Twitter account, and in the 1st month you notice that hits to one specific product page on your website increased by 23%! To try to figure out why, you check your website’s analytics, and discover that most of the hits were generated by a referral from one blog post written about that particular product, that included a link to the product page. You do a bit more digging, and discover that most of the referral traffic for that one post, came from Twitter.
Now you at least have some idea of how Twitter is making an impact on your business. You should further check into this and try to determine exactly why that particular post did well (The topic? The writer? The structure of the post?), and also try to figure out why it was so popular on Twitter (In what context was the link shared? What day? What time? More than once?).
The bottom line is that effective social media measurement is all about figuring out exactly what YOUR goals are, then measuring metrics that tie back to those goals. We’ve all heard the saying ‘what gets measured gets manufactured’, and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to social media measurement. If all you want to measure is number of followers to decide if your Twitter efforts are working, then you WILL find a way to increase your number of followers.
Remember: Strategy first, then identify metrics to measure based on desired outcomes, not what’s easiest to measure.
PS: Have an existing social media strategy and you want to have it audited to make sure you are on the right track? I can do that, and I guarantee my work.