When you combine a natural business demand for data to benchmark performance, with a lack of understanding as to the purpose of social media, a business will find itself looking at the wrong metrics. If you are tracking performance based exclusively on any of the following, I believe you are chasing the wrong tail:
• Number of people who like you
• Number of people following you
• How many people have you in their circles
• Your Klout score
I’m in no way arguing you should purposefully throttle the number of followers you have or keep them low for the sake of it. If you can get 10,000 followers and they are actively engaging with you, then that is amazing. Nor am I saying you shouldn’t track follower counts at all. A sudden rise suggests you have done something popular you should repeat, and a decline suggests you need to re-think your strategy.
The point is, there is no benefit to chasing large follower numbers simply to report large follower numbers. It would be like booking a branded blimp and flying it at night in the country side. No one will see it and it’s an action for the sake of taking an action, without thinking ‘why?’
The key metrics you report and judge your success on have to be based around quality. By quality I mean:
• Traffic metrics: visitors, time on site, depth of visit, bounce rate etc.
• Sales metrics: Number products sold, revenue, ROI etc.
• Sharing metrics: re-tweets, likes, re-pins, +1’s etc.
• Engagement metrics: Comments, tweets etc.
These actions all provide value to your business, be it branding or financial. I personally believe it is better to have 10 followers who leave comments, share things and recommend you than 1000 followers who ignore you (or are bots).
How to get this information on a budget
Google analytics is key. Right away you’ll be able to see how many clicks and sales you are receiving as a result. You’ll be able to see which types of post attracts the most attention, and which, if any, attract no attention. This in turn can be used to help you shape your future strategy.
For Twitter, Hootsuite And Tweetdeck perform a very similar function. They allow you to constantly track multiple streams, for all mentions of your company, and also for those of your competitors. The default Twitter interface is not ideal for this, so I would strongly trying out both of these products. Shortening services like bit.ly also include built-in stats, and you can tag all your shortened links with your analytics software’s tracking data.
Facebook’s insights provides a much improved set of data compared to a year or two ago. Stats such as your reach, engaged users and ‘talking about this’ are a great way to monitor performance when combined with post-click data through Google Analytics.