One of the most powerful reasons to use social media is that it is relatively easy to measure your results. This is incredibly important to do. Anytime you invest time or money toward marketing yourself or your business, you want to make sure you are getting the most from that investment. Let’s breaks this down.
At the hub of your social media efforts is your website. All other online efforts should be directing traffic back to your site or your brick and mortar store. Each day, you track sales, customer counts, sales per customer, etc. Why? You want to know if you are winning, right? The same reasoning be applied to your site. How do you go about this? Google Analytics is a great place to start.
Google Analytics is a simple tool. You drop a little code onto each page of your site and Google tracks all kinds of things for you – site visits, bounce rates, time on site, time per page, and a whole slew of other things that will blow your mind. I am not going to get into interpreting all of the into Google supplies you in an analytics report; however, you should spend some time learning about this powerful tool. to learn more about Google Analytics check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdsb_uH2yPU.
The exact same principles apply if you are using a blog, either as a part of your site or as your main online presence. I would say that if you are using a blog (and you should be) using Google Analytics is even more important and it can slightly easier to set up. Most of today’s blogging platforms offer easy-to-install widgets or tools that will help you insert your Google Analytics code across your entire site in a matter or minutes.
One note about Google Analytics – not only can you keep track of your results, you can set up the tool to send you (and your boss) custom reports.
Facebook offers a great analytics tool called Insights. FB’s analytics tool requires no set up. Just create your business’ FB fan page and you are all set to go. Not only does FB Insights supply you great info about how many people are visiting your fan page, FB supplies you with a ton of great info about who those people are (age, gender) and which types of media they are looking at (text, pictures, video). This is incredibly powerful information because it will allow you to make adjustments and tailor your efforts.
Bit.ly is a URL shortener. The service takes a long Web address like http://jwsokol.com/scc/2011/03/05/social-media-your-key-to-innovation/ and shortens it to a much shorter version of it like this http://bit.ly/fnm1eV. Why is this important? Any time you use Twitter, you will want to keep your URLs short and sweet, but there is another reason to use the service.
Bit.ly tracks all of the URLs you create with them and shows you how many people are clicking on the links. Just like with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, knowing who is following you and how your links are being shared is invaluable information. With it you will know what is working and what is not. Then you can hone your efforts and drive results.
There are a ton of great tools out there that will allow you to easily manage your many social media accounts. You really should look at using one of them. Hootsuite is my favorite of these tools. Not only does the service provide you with easy ways to post updates to your SM accounts, they have their own URL shortener and a variety of analytics tools for every social media you integrate into it.
Hootsuite can be a little confusing to set up and add service to, but once you get there you will have an amazing array of tools at your disposal.
Accountability Is Key
No matter what direction you go in with your web and social media efforts, you should make every effort possible to set goals and then track your progress toward hitting those goals. Without the analytics, you are flying blind and potentially wasting a ton of time.
There is one more reason to use analytics – you can hold yourself accountable and demonstrate to your boss that your efforts are making a difference. You will run into trouble along the way and you shouldn’t shy away from this. Accept it, own up to it, and move forward.