Marketing in social media can be a tough task for some marketing teams. Sure, there's the whole allure of "everyone is doing it," but at the end of the day all marketing efforts for any company must be held accountable. Don't fall for the whole "social media can't be measured" line of thinking either; it can be and you just need to know what your end goal is.
Realize Social Media Isn't About "the Clicks"
The first thing any sensible marketing team needs to do in setting expectations of their superiors when utilizing social media communities as a marketing channel is putting everyone into the mindframe of "it's not about the clicks." Clicks to purchase, clicks to sign up, clicks to email, clicks to just about anything from the customer's end rarely happen on the first exposure with any customer in social media. Social media isn't about getting customers to immediately click over to your own site; search marketing (both paid and organic) should be filling that need in your marketing plan.
Social media marketing takes time to develop the successful results you aim for to improve your bottom line. It takes time to develop trust, it takes time to develop relationships, it takes time for customers to really like you as a company. Sure, they may retweet one of your media pieces or pin one of your photos, but what happens to the relationship after that? What are you measuring after that initial "brush of contact"?
Counting Likes Is Lame
I honestly cannot take credit for the above phrase - I have to thank Avinash Kaushik for that beauty. Avinash recently wrote a piece about how to measure what you're implementing in social media, with a particular influence in social media. After you're finished with this piece I highly recommend taking the time to read his article.
Avinash says this about companies who count likes and measure that as success:
"What can you measure to show value: Do. Not. Measure. Likes.
I will personally hate you.
Declaring success based on measuring Likes in aggregate is like declaring success after getting a lot of Visits to your site. SO WHAT? Likes are actually lamer. Because once I press Like I might never come back, never read anything you write, never ever engage with you, not even remember you exist."
I actually gave out a little cheer when I read this particular part of his article. See, the problem with counting likes is that counting that "click" doesn't get you anywhere. The person clicking the like might do it once to see what content you have that you're hiding from them, or they might click it once to get a coupon, watch a video, or see a photo. After that what happens? What action have they done beyond clicking that little like button?
If you aren't engaging your audience, not much is going to happen with all of those people clicking the like button. If you aren't cultivating your avid fans into true ambassadors for your brand that action of clicking the like button (or "follow," "friend," etc.) doesn't mean a heck of a lot…to your bottom line.
Remember It's About Them, Not Your Ego
Counting followers, likes, friends, etc. is a wonderful boost for anyone's ego or to have your CEO tout at the next conference, but do you know how all of those followers affected your bottom line? Likely not, unless you've already realized that more important measures are things like "how many are talking about this" or "reach" in Facebook Insights.
Take those measurements a step further and look and see what people from social media sites are doing when you lead them over to your own site. How valuable are they to you? When you segment out your visitors coming from social media sites and their actions, you can create a much better picture of success (or failure) with what you're implementing in social media.
Looking at things like time on site, number of pages visited, visitor loyalty, and even navigational paths can give you a much more rounded picture of success in any social media channel; much better than counting likes. When you combine factors of how many new followers you gained during a certain time frame and look at what's happening on your own site, that's when you can begin to draw conclusions about what you're implementing and how it affects your bottom line when it comes to "counting those likes."
So don't fall into the trap of just counting things to be able to qualify your success. When you dig deeper into understanding the data behind what you're doing you not only can figure out what is currently working, but it can also help you map a path for future success.
Don't be lame, resist counting the likes!
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Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.
Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.
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