I fall into the same trap here that others do. I look most at my topline — my total number of followers. Unfortunately on social media, number of followers doesn’t do you any good. It is your ROI that counts, and that is not so easy to measure. There are many things that a marketing professional could measure when evaluating their social media presence.
(1) Total number of interactions.
(2) Number of “involved” interactions where there is a continuing dialogue (good for SEO)
(3) Number of shares, or favorites
(4) Number of clicks (my favorite metric as that gives me my bottom line social media goal of traffic)
(5) Number of form submissions
Most marketers do not measure the ROI of their social media investment which is a huge problem. If you don’t know which of your social media accounts is delivering the best results, how will you know where to put your efforts in the future? For me, I know that I get most of my traffic from my Facebook profile. I still invest in my other profiles, but the biggest investment goes to my account with the best ROI which is Facebook. Additionally, I would like to mention that my other accounts are still in the experimental stage and it is too early to judge them.
Many marketers have wishy-washy social media goals. Perhaps they want to boost brand awareness or get more interactions. It makes most sense to put a dollar value on what each metric means to you, and how much of each metric you want to get. You can also measure what the dollar value is of what you are putting in and what you are getting out. Remember, that social media is like a snowball, and after you have mature large accounts, it is easy to get a lot more out while putting a lot less in.
Certain social media platforms such as Linked In or Google Plus allow for the creation of communities. You can set goals for how large your communities should be by a particular date. If you know the growth rate and how much time investment is necessary to reach that rate, then you can plan effectively. My current goal for my Linked In group is to get 200 new followers per month. If I hire offshore labor to help me with outreach, I could expand that to 2000 new followers per month since overseas labor is a lot less expensive (but, hopefully as good — we’ll find out.)
You know how you take a 45 minute walk once a day, and allow 1 hour for lunch? Social media needs to be timed the same way, otherwise it can get out of control. You need to decide how much time per day or week you will allow for social media. Then, break it down into accounts. You will spend thirty minutes per day on Facebook, but only ten minutes twice a week on Twitter. You will write one blog article per week as well. You might need to reevaluate your plan once or twice a year. But, see what works for your business and your life and adjust from there.
ROI vs. Estimated ROI
If you can calculate what your Facebook profile is worth to you with 4000 followers in terms of monthly revenue from additional exposure, then you might be able to guess the future value. The value of social media marketing is not constant over time. Empires rise, and empires fall making the future of your campaigns hard to predict. If you invest five hours a week into your Facebook profile and it produces $2000 of value to you through traffic, sales, or other more obscure metrics, then if your profile continues to grow, it might be worth a lot more than that once it has grown. On the other hand if you invest nothing but time in a particular profile, but get negligible results, it might be time to stop using that profile or just put it on the back burner devoting only a few minutes per week to post a few of your most critical links.
If you aren’t using social media right…
If you don’t use social media “the right way” then you won’t get any ROI to analyze. You need captivating articles, interesting discussions, and links to your important pages for SEO. If you only self-promote and bore everyone, you’ll lose followers. If you only post interesting articles, but don’t do anything for your SEO benefit, then you will not get the full benefit from social media. Learn how to get the most of all of your accounts. They all help, but in different ways. Using what I know now, I might be able to use Twitter for 20 minutes a week and get more benefit than you get using social media an hour a day!