How to Track and Measure Social Media Marketing

Companies spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours creating presences on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Management teams ask: “Is this time and money well-spent?”

The only way to tell is to measure how marketing impacts brand building, customer awareness of products and services, lead generation, customer acquisition (or sales) and other important business metrics.

How to do so? The early days of social media marketing talked about “Return on Interest” or “Return on Interaction.” In many cases, those were valid ways of looking at new communications efforts. Companies made some of their earliest efforts at one-to-one or one-to-few communications and changing the model for customer communications.

Today, we still see the power of social media in helping companies connect with customers. A recent study by the Pivot Conference states that 67 percent of marketers surveyed felt “Customer Engagement” and “Brand Lift” were their leading goals for using social media. 58 percent want to increase sales, and 55 percent want to improve lead generation.1

What’s holding social media back in organizations? According to Pivot, executive skepticism and lack of metrics jumped from fifth and sixth position (in 2011) respectively to third and fourth. Marketers feel they’re getting results from social media, but the statistics to convince executives aren’t easy to create.

The way marketers look at social media metrics has changed over time. eMarketer cites a CMO survey commissioned by the AMA in February 2013, which shows that hits and visits are down as a measure of importance. Meanwhile, friends, followers and web mentions are all still valued, which indicates that marketers are thinking about social media as a long-term branding and loyalty effort.

Companies should value brand building and customer awareness metrics as well as sales and marketing numbers. “With social, we are passing the peak of faddishness. Companies are starting to crack social’s code and turning to it for business advantage, intelligence and insight,” said Gerald Kane, professor at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.2

According to the MIT Sloan School of Business study, three key factors hold businesses back: “lack of an overall strategy (28 percent of respondents), too many competing priorities (26 percent), and lack of a proven business case or strong value proposition (21 percent) […] Gartner estimates that 80 percent of social business projects between now and 2015 will yield disappointing results because of a lack of leadership support and a narrow view of social as a technology rather than a business driver.”3

This paper will help you prove the business case for social media. Discover available social media metrics, and learn how to tie interactions back to internal systems, processes and key performance indicators (KPIs) so your organization can judge your social media marketing on its own merits.

Tying Social Media to Sales

Companies are investing time and money on social media, trying to connect with customers, help them raise awareness about products and services, and make more sales. How can they tell if their efforts are working? In a phrase: they have to measure.

Most businesses of a certain size or age have a system in place to track customers, leads and sales. They understand their own customer acquisition funnel. Most also have a web presence where they’re able to measure traffic, and in the case of e-commerce, directly measure their sales online.

Social media is another animal. Companies don’t own the sites where their social presences live. They may have a page on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, or a Twitter account, but the companies that own those sites have control of the data on customer interactions. Marketers can get some statistics, and can track referrers so they know which social networks are sending them traffic, but the overall measurement picture is a mess. Excel and manual counting are often the lowest common denominator for gathering statistics.

Additionally, we’re not just reaching customers and prospects in one or two channels – it is a multi-channel world. Content on your own site may go out in an email, appear in a social network and be shared in an online community or quoted in a blog.

According to Brendon O’Donovan, product marketing manager at Vocus, “Thinking about a campaign for a conference or an event, companies are taking a crosschannel approach for marketing activity. They may have a press release, a blog post, tweet about it and create a Facebook promotion, but it all ties back into the same campaign. What channels are you using most? Which ones are getting the most click-throughs? Which ones are giving you the most sign-ups for a form?”

On Facebook, we can track how many people like something, or how many times it’s shared with others. Twitter is less trackable, according to O’Donovan. We can see who retweeted, who replied, and using link-tracking services like Bitly, you can tell who’s clicking on content and how often. By creating landing pages for campaigns, you can see who completed a form or created a lead, and get more information than the social networks themselves provide. However, to measure this way, the customer must leave the network to interact with your website directly.

This is a difficult problem. The data we require comes from multiple sources, and we need to integrate it, compare it and then connect it to our business systems to see what effect the posts, tweets, shares and clicks are having on our business.

Tying social media analytics to business results

In short, we can tie the metrics from social media to business results. But it’s not a slam-dunk, and we often need an incomplete off-the-shelf solution to do the tracking and connections. So where do we start?

Marshall Sponder, CEO of Web Metrics Guru, Inc. and author of “Social Media Analytics,” talked about the customer journey. “How does someone find your restaurant, or gas station, or copy center? Businesses should understand how push and pull advertising and marketing contribute to that customer’s journey.” The journey will dictate the means of tracking results, and the metrics will derive from the different points in the journey to help you evaluate the process of moving people through your funnel. That way, you can look at those points and see if the money and time spent on social media is actually working.

If you’re not already aware of the KPIs that help bring customers into your own funnel, tracking social media statistics won’t yield new insights. Customers may go through a simple model like AIDA – Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.

Whatever model you use, it’s important to understand what makes customers think they need a business like yours in order to find it, express an interest in your product or service and finally make a purchase. Once you’re clear on that concept, you can map people’s likes, follows, tweets or interactions to actual business results.

Branding versus sales

Social media can be helpful at any point in the sales funnel. Whether your goal is increasing audience or nurturing customers post-sale, social has its uses. Sometimes, we put a quantitative value on a qualitative relationship – trying to determine if interaction actually means interest, and if interest implies intent.

Christopher Penn, vice president of marketing technologies at SHIFT Communications, notes that it’s useful to start at the bottom of the marketing funnel – with a sale. “You have to be able to place a monetary or quantitative value on the end result. For a ‘standard’ B2B company, your funnel is Sales, Opportunities, Leads, Prospects and your Audience.

“If you map out the funnel well, you should be able to set values per stage of the funnel, in reverse. If the value of a Sale is $1,000 and you have a 10 percent conversion rate up and down the funnel, then an Opportunity is valued at $100, a Lead at $10, a Prospect at $1 and a member of your Audience at $0.10. [For argument’s sake], you can plug these into the analytics application of your choice and more importantly, you’ll be able to assess at each given stage what things are worth what values. In any reasonably good web analytics package, you can plug those values in and know what’s delivering the actual value that drives the sale.”

If a sale isn’t your goal, and you’re trying to increase awareness or build brand, you can look at this differently. “Think of all the people in your addressable audience – fans, followers, circles. A ‘like’ on Facebook isn’t the end goal, but you’re trying to figure out the size of the audience ‘bucket’,” says Penn. Tracking those stats for likes, followers and so on allows you to find what works to increase that addressable audience, so they can then get ads, offers or simply communicate with you.

It’s equally important to track changes going in the opposite direction, which indicate that people are hiding your posts, unsubscribing or unfollowing you. This means that your content is out of alignment and you should adjust quickly, because those “hides” actually count in Facebook’s algorithm and may prevent your content from being seen.4

Building an audience is the first step, says Justin Cutroni, Google’s analytics evangelist. “When it comes to people taking some sort of social action and then correlating that with sales, we like to tie the two together. Most businesses are there now, where they’re continuously building an audience. We measure that in audience size and interaction.

“Are people following me, and when I post are they interacting? But the idea is to ultimately drive whatever your business objective is. Commerce being the simplest example, I might look to my social network as a channel that generates sales, so I would put a promotion out to that group: ‘Thanks for following or circling – here’s an offer.’ Those kinds of things are very trackable.”

Case Study: Castle Auto Group

An example of a company that uses (paid) social media is Castle Auto Group (also documented in our guide, “A Marketer’s Guide to the New Facebook5”.) Castle used Facebook’s “Custom Audiences” toolset to increase audience and track their actions directly. First, they uploaded their existing email list, and Facebook matched as many of the addresses as possible to existing users. Then they targeted ads to that group, increasing the number of “likes” their page had, which increased their audience. As they developed a larger audience to address, they were able to spend $300 targeting a Facebook “Offer”6 for an oil change deal. This specific campaign translated into $12,000 worth of business directly attributable to their Facebook promotion. From a metrics perspective, Castle tracked the number of “likes” on their page using Facebook Insights to see their audience grow. They could see the number of times their fans interacted with their page and how many times initiatives like their Facebook “Offer” were shared. Additionally, Castle said their company watches to see which posts have the most interactions for “People Talking About This,” which includes everything from “likes”, shares and comments to people who answer questions, respond to events or claim offers. Castle is a good example of growing an audience and learning how specific promotions generate revenue.

Understanding Metrics 101

What are you trying to measure?

According to Marshall Sponder, “You can only measure what you’re in control of. Success, in terms of metrics, is dictated by your ability to control points of measurement and get people in your organization to agree on basic measurements and how to pull them.” But the challenge is, in social media, you’re not in control of the platform. You can track how many people “like” your page or “follow” your account, but you’re at the mercy of what the platform vendors provide as far as statistics and insights.

And changes in metrics levels don’t always correspond to exact changes in leads, sales and the like. So, we need to test how changes in social media metrics actually impact our pipeline or funnel.

You may be wondering, “Can’t I just put all of this into a big dashboard?” Well, it’s not as easy as that. Different metrics (internal, web, social) come from different sources, and it’s not always easy to integrate them. Major corporations spend millions customizing systems to tie their sales and company processes to their marketing data.

However, if you “have more time than money, you can do a lot of this work in Excel,” says Christopher Penn. For example, you can track people when they come from your web pipeline to your sales pipeline when they fill out a lead form and see which of those leads convert. Keep track of which ones found your site via LinkedIn, which via Twitter and so on. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to see trends. One company may have lots more web traffic via Twitter, but more conversions coming from LinkedIn.

Key metrics for less metrically-minded marketers

Most marketers are familiar with the social metrics for major networks. According to O’Donovan, “Things like Facebook “likes”, shares, comments and engagement metrics are things that show how your content is resonating. Likewise on Twitter, your follower growth and how many people are retweeting or sharing your content. LinkedIn is tough to #2 measure or monitor, and it almost comes down to the way that people engage with you on forums and the way they make connections by what you post.”

O’Donovan stresses the use of URL shorteners, like Bitly, which allow you to share specific content and track things back to your own site. This way, you can see how many times people clicked on a link, and more importantly, the origin of the click. This is useful because you can see what links resonated on one social network versus another. You can guide your efforts by understanding which types of content work better on LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Pinterest.

If more people interact with your content on Facebook, but you get more people who sign up for your newsletter or make a sales inquiry from LinkedIn, you can start to focus more on the LinkedIn content, improving it so that you get even more inquiries.

O’Donovan notes that there are some things you can’t see and measure well but seem to create customer interest. “We’ve had success with Pinterest, which is surprising for a B2B software company because when you think about Pinterest, you may think weddings and recipes. But you can track repins and shares and landing pages they go to, and the way our content was being shared was hugely successful for us.”

By keeping track of the different tactics, posts and topics you’re sharing, you can see which ones cause an uptick (or downtick) in any of the metrics you’re already tracking within your company and start identifying trends. For networks with limited metrics dashboards, such as Twitter (for non-promoted items), one way to track effectiveness is to share content from your own site and track how many visitors are coming from that site. Otherwise, you’ll invest time and effort into branding and awareness and have to blindly trust the results.

Getting Started with Google Analytics

For many entrepreneurial marketers, Google Analytics (or a similar package) is the primary insights package for the web. They track simple things like most popular content, which pages people stay on the longest and what sites are referring visitors. With a little more sophistication, you can create funnels that track how users get to your site and what path they take to convert to a sale or sign up. Google’s Justin Cutroni explains some really important Google Analytics functions that will help you generate hard data from your web and social interactions with customers.

The two essential google analytics elements

There are two main configuration steps for using Google Analytics once it’s set up on your site: set up goals and use link tagging.

  1. Setting up goalsThe most obvious goals to set up are those Cutroni refers to as “macro-conversions,” like sales or lead generation forms. “But it’s not just macro-conversions. Goals can be visitor actions like downloading a white paper, viewing a specific piece of content or watching a video. If you’ve got analytics implemented the right way, all of those smaller visitor actions can be turned into ‘micro-conversions.’”Setting up goals in analytics is as easy as defining which paths or pre-determined steps people take going through your site (a funnel), and where they end up (a sign-up form page, for example). Look at the other small little things you’re doing to engage the user on your site and create goals so you know they’re actually happening.“In terms of funnels, every macro-conversion usually has a defined process the user has to go through, and we set those up as a funnel, and I usually start it where the actual process starts.” Funnels are important because if they have steps, you can see where a user drops out in the process and fix that sign up form or conversion element. This is most important with visitor actions that most frequently precede the macro-conversions.Google Analytics has a “Visitor Flow” report that is useful to look at – Cutroni calls it a “flexible funnel” to see users’ paths through the site. People may enter your site at a different place or URL than you expect or take a different path to a goal. The Visitor Flow report can help you find that out.
  2. Tagging links Link tagging means adding extra information to links so that Google Analytics can pick it up. Say you were running a campaign on Facebook to get people to sign up for your email newsletter. Or perhaps you had two different ads and wanted to see which one converts more effectively. A standard link back to your website might be http://YourSite. com/MailSignUp.A tagged example would be the URL: http: //YourSite.com/ MailSignUp?utm source=Facebook&utm_medium=Facebook CPC&utm_term=MyCompanyName&utm_ content=Ad1&utm campaign=MailSignUpIn this URL, the “source” is the network name – in this case, Facebook. It could also be a search engine or another place the campaign is running. The “medium” represents Facebook’s cost-per-click (CPC) ads. The “term” is the keyword for the campaign – so this ad would be one you set up to target people searching for your company name. “Ad1” means this is version 1 of your ad, assuming you’re running several different ads as a test. And finally, the “campaign” is “MailSignUp” – so you can track how many people are actually doing that. As a marketer, you don’t have to know how to create these links manually, as there’s a page on Google that does it for you.7If you’ve done the work to tag your ads, then you can go into Google Analytics, click “Traffic Sources,” then “Advertising,” then “Campaigns,” and see the following chart by also clicking on “Ad Group” (see arrow). In this case, for one signup campaign, ads 1 and 2 outperform ads 3 and 4 for getting visits, but more people completed the goal of signing up when they saw ad 2.

Cutroni also offers a spreadsheet that will let you create these URLs in bulk.8

With custom URLs, you can see more information about where the URL was clicked (Twitter vs. an email, for example), and if you’re testing different pictures or campaign language, you can see which test brought in more clicks. Tagged links can be very useful in helping see what sources (in social media, or elsewhere) are sending people to your funnel and how well those sources are working.

What things can your company do to customize the experience?

Track your audience growth and the traffic you get from your social media sites and other locations on the web. Google Analytics allows you to customize your dashboard to show the specific metrics and modules you want to see when you log in to create custom reports.

In fact, Cutroni shares a link to the Solutions Gallery where you can add your own social media dashboard.9 Click the link when you’re logged into Analytics, and it will add the pre-built “Social Media Dashboard,” an “e-commerce Dashboard” or any of several other dashboards that report to your company’s analytics view. If none of those Dashboards are for you, try one of the many third-party plugins,10 or start making your own, no programming required. (Picture from: http://cutroni.com/blog/2012/04/24/a-social-mediadashboard- for-google-analytics/11)

Case Study: Fairmont Hotels12

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts had been using Twitter to increase awareness and drive traffic to their website. However, Twitter can come from sources other than Twitter. com – such as mobile apps, emails and SMS messages – and Fairmont couldn’t track these sources effectively.

They now tag their links using the Google link-tagging tool mentioned previously.13 They take the longer links and use a URL shortener to keep the tweets manageable (fewer than 140 characters).

The marketing and analytics manager tracks the traffic by looking at each specific traffic channel, then at the campaign. This allows her to see the different tweets and how they perform. They’re able to track bounce rate, new visitors and conversions.

The team also created goals and is now able to see which subjects resonate with visitors and how tweets contribute to revenue and booking goals. By doing additional segment analysis, they are able to see which properties get booked via Twitter.

This simple example shows the power of tracking links effectively and how links can be used within an analytics package like Google Analytics to learn more about customers and their journey towards your product or service.

Specific Metrics and Specific Actions

Ways to understand which actions cause what outcomes

Attribution modeling can help you understand exactly what actions in different networks affect your customer’s behavior. Try to assign different values to different customer “touches” along the chain while trying to determine what steps lead to conversion. You may give a certain amount of weight to a customer signing up for a newsletter, another amount to a Facebook link that brought them to your site and perhaps some value to a Google ad.

Attribution modeling

Attribution modeling allows you to experiment and see which interaction points lead to behaviors like conversions and sales. It is one of the most powerful features in Google Analytics. Cutroni notes that “Multi-Channel Funnels” are a great introduction into attribution modeling. Multi-Channel Funnels let you see the role that prior site referrals, searches and ads play in bringing a visitor towards conversion. They also let you see how much time has passed between the first interaction and a purchase or another decision.14

Funnels help you identify all the different marketing channels you’re using and what Cutroni calls “Exposers and Closers.” An exposer is more upper-funnel and generates a lot of traffic, but not a lot of conversions. For example, exposers may see a YouTube video with your product or service and that may bring them to your website, but they may not buy at that moment. A closer is more bottom of the funnel, generating conversions and revenue, such as a coupon. Social can be an exposer or a closer depending on how it is used.

Tweeting “Check out our new offerings” vs. “20% off when you click now” can have different results. Create the custom URLs so you can track how those activities come through. #4 You can customize a channel in GA; for example, “Came from Social with a custom URL value of X.”

Then, you can see if these activities are achieving their goals with attribution modeling.15 With attribution modeling, you can understand the return you get from each channel. The function lets you assign different values to different aspects of your multi-channel funnel and then experiment with weighting the values.

Cutroni talked about a model that gives all the credit to the last click in a channel. This model cannot account for the other interactions someone may have had with your site, your email campaign or your social presences. A time decay model (where several clicks closest in time to the sale or conversion get the credit) might be more appropriate, but you won’t know it until you test it.

“When you’re getting into attribution modeling, start with a basic model. For most businesses in e-commerce, a decay model is a good one to use. Compare a decay model with the last click model (you can have columns in the report) to see metrics and look for places where the models show very different values for the channel.”

For a last click model, you may see social having a low value, but in a decay model, a very high value. That tells you the channel may not be good at closing, but it does expose people to your offering. We’re trying to monetize the funnel and see how much each item is worth. Then, the whole idea is you need to change something. Identify a place where there may be more value, like in social, and change something. Try investing more time or money there to see if you get more conversions.”

Attribution modeling works only when you vary the conditions and see where the value occurs.

Tracking actions on social networks back to your store

We’ve seen how social network actions can track back to things that happen on our websites using tracking links, shortened URLs, offers or coupons and the like. But how can we tell if what we’re doing online influences in-store behavior?

Research shows that networks like Facebook and Pinterest are influencing consumer behavior in larger stores. According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, “Pinterest is an especially popular driver of in-store sales: 21 percent of the Pinterest users we surveyed said that they bought an item in-store after pinning, repinning, or ‘liking’ it, and 36 percent of users under 35 said they had done so.”16 Further data from a more full study by the same authors17 notes that Facebook is most likely driving customers to purchase – one in three Facebook users has purchased something after sharing, liking or commenting. Overall, 40 percent of social media users have purchased an item after sharing or favoriting it on a network like Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook.

In August 2013, Twitter announced a partnership with DataLogix to measure the offline sales impact of promoted and organic Tweets sent by consumer packaged goods companies.18 The report notes, “Users who engaged with a brand’s Promoted Tweets purchased more from that brand than a statistically identical control group, resulting in a 12 percent average sales lift.”

There are ways to track online actions to in-store purchasing. None are guaranteed, but here are a few suggestions.

Track views on items in your online catalog to see if viewed items are not purchased online but are moving in significantly greater volume in-store. Offer online site viewers a way to “print a shopping list” to take in-store with a tracking or coupon code. The previous example of Castle Automotive’s use of Facebook Offers to drive in-store traffic is an excellent example of a creative way to track purchases. Finally, by using loyalty cards or having customers sign up for an email list, you can tie their online identity to in-store activity. This might require some initial manual work, but could yield valuable results.

What are some things that can be easily implemented and done in a short timeframe with reasonable effort?

For companies who have not yet done so, one of the most valuable quick and easy things to implement would be Google link tracking. After setting up Google Analytics, start using the program to track the custom links you’ve created. This should immediately help track content performance on different networks with an even finer grain.

For those businesses that are already tracking, take the time to create or modify your funnels or attribution models. Make and test different assumptions and see how the results affect your KPIs. While this requires more effort and research, it can truly start to impact your bottom line pretty quickly.

Unique Metrics by Social Network

Challenge: What are the key metrics for the big social networks?

Facebook

Insights, Facebook’s metrics tool that shows the per-post metric of how many people were reached, includes level of engagement they had with your post (likes, clicks, comments and shares). Per-page metrics include engagement over time, as well as people who leave your page, hide your posts and other negative metrics. A tab for “When Your Fans Are Online” may help tune your content and publishing schedule to the habits of your customers.

Marketers should be aware that Facebook’s capabilities often change. Facebook’s most recent public guide about Page Insights19 is from 2012, but the company updated the tool in June 2013.20 Some elements of “People Talking About This” were split up to be “reported separately as Page Likes, People Engaged (the number of unique people who have liked, shared or commented on your posts), Page tags and mentions, Page check-ins and other interactions on a Page.”21 The company also changed their “virality” measurement to “engagement rate,” which includes clicks and gives a better sense of the quality of a post.

If you’re using Facebook to create ads to target potential customers, the ads manager will help you understand performance metrics. Facebook’s new business portal22 does a great job of explaining how to create ads and measure them. If you have an e-commerce site, consider adding a Facebook conversion-tracking pixel code to your site. Their guide23 tells you how to add the code to your site and how you can track your ads and measure conversions.

Twitter

Twitter allows metrics when you’re using their ad system. If you’re just tweeting from their page or another app, you’ll need to monitor your following and track tweets and retweets via that app, or manually in a spreadsheet.

When looking at your engagement, track the growth of your following as well as the quantity and quality of your interactions. Start creating Twitter lists of people with whom you seem to be having good interactions. Cultivate good relationships with those followers and see if engaging them increases your overall outcomes – are they signing up for your newsletter, coming to your website or making purchases? By using a URL shortener and custom links from Google Analytics, you can track exactly what content engages your followers the most.

When looking for customers to engage, Vocus’ system adds capabilities over standard Twitter searches, notes O’Donovan. “Buying Signals works by monitoring a subsection of Twitter – tweets with intent, like, ‘I’m looking for a new bike, any recommendations?’ or ‘Looking for a happy hour in DC, any suggestions?’ – they have an intent or need for purchase or advice.”

If you’re using Twitter’s ad system to promote your account or promote tweets, you get more data. Ads let you target geographically, demographically, by keyword and to users who are similar to your existing followers. Twitter promotes your tweets to customers that it believes will find the tweet interesting and relevant.

Businesses doing smaller campaigns have access to a more basic level of analytics.24 Twitter also allows businesses to promote their account to get more followers. Organic “Trends” are conversations based on volume of hashtags or keywords that show up in a specific place on users’ pages and in Twitter clients. Business can pay to put a promoted trend on top, but these can be expensive for a small business.

Google+

Google+ is Google’s social networking layer that allows for posts, interactions, followers and more. Vocus recently published an in-depth analysis of marketing on Google+.25 When you share content on Google+, it can be tracked by seeing how many people shared it and via “ripples,” which show visually how the content spread on the network. Click on “View Post Activity” to find these options. When users click your content in Google+, you can track the results via your Google Analytics social media console.

Additionally, Google+ has a “+1” button that is similar to Facebook’s “like” button. Embedding this button on your website helps give Google signals about people liking your content. You can also embed a button that allows users to follow you on the network, thereby increasing your potential audience for engagement.

As the Vocus report notes, sharing on Google+ not only benefits your presence there, but also can positively influence your Google Search results and rankings for fans and their friends. Marketers are just beginning to explore the influence of Google+ and how it can affect traffic.

In that report, we discussed “Think Geek,” an online retailer of clothing, gadgets and toys for “smart masses.” “Think Geek’s page is filled with content, much of it pictures of the things they sell. These items create an interesting environment for potential customers, who then discover that Think Geek’s content is interesting in its own right. For example, more than 486 people clicked ‘+1’ on their ‘Lego Slippers’ post, 114 people shared the slippers and 25 made comments.”26 Think Geek can track the conversion rates for items they post and directly attribute Google+ as part of its sales funnel.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has added better analytics27 to Company Pages as of July 2013. Companies posting content and updates can track their reach and engagement with clicks, likes, comments and shares. When you create an update, target specific audiences and track how posts performed with different segments of your followers. You can also receive data on your company’s followers, including the places they’re coming from, demographics and trends (growth or unfollows) over time.

Companies using sponsored updates and LinkedIn ads can get even deeper metrics. Don’t forget to use custom URLs to tie clicks on the platform back to your own web analytics.

Pinterest

Pinterest has also added analytics, but they’re only available to verified businesses, so don’t forget to take that step.28 Access your analytics from the upper right corner. You can see how many people are pinning from your site, repins, impressions and reach. The dashboard also shows the pins that are repinned the most, as well as the ones that are clicked on the most.

Pinterest data can be exported to an Excel-compatible CSV file, and you can also change the date range to study activity during specific periods of time. By tracking referrers in Google Analytics, you can see the visits you’re getting from Pinterest. By using the Google Analytics funnels, you can judge whether that traffic is converting to sales or other KPIs.



Conclusion

Now that you’re paying attention to your metrics, how can you make the best use of them with your management team?

Spend some time and research your customer’s journey to your business, as Marshall Sponder advocates. Communicate with your sales team. Do customer surveys. Are they truly following the marketing path you expected? If not, change your assumptions and modify your funnels and the statistics you’re capturing to match customer reality as closely as possible.

Metrics can be difficult for people to understand. Utilize the chart and graph capabilities of Excel, Google Analytics or your metrics package to track some basic statistics. Try creating a monthly (or weekly) report that tracks your audience size on various social networks and show which ones are providing the best traffic back to your site. Which are “exposers” and which are “closers” like Justin Cutroni mentioned?

Once you’ve got a good idea of the levers you have at your disposal, report on specific tactical changes you’re making and what results they generate. Are you creating different kinds of content? Sometimes this content will resonate and your followers or fans will increase, and sometimes it won’t. Be mindful of things that cause people to unfollow your content. Certain tactics may be novel at first, but may become less interesting with time.

Watch for new statistics and better ways of measuring metrics on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There’s a lot of innovation with capabilities being added on a constant basis.

Metrics are there to help you learn about customer behavior, test and re-test assumptions, draw conclusions, and improve your recognition, interaction and sales. Data is never static and is likely seasonal, cyclical or changes as you offer new products or services. By tracking over time, you’ll be a more informed marketer or business owner and have a better chance of success.

Special Thanks to

Marshall Sponder, Founder and CEO of Web Metrics Guru, Inc. and author of Social Media Analytics.

Christopher Penn, Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications and blogger at Awaken Your Superhero.

Justin Cutroni, Analytics Evangelist and Advocate at Google and author of multiple books on Google Analytics.

About the Author

Howard Greenstein is a marketing technology strategist and president of the Harbrooke Group, which helps companies communicate with their customers using the latest Web technologies. He has worked with clients from the Fortune 500, Cable Networks and Wall Street, as well as major advocacy groups. He teaches social media at the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at NYU SCPS, and is a regular contributor to Inc.com.

Footnotes

1 http://pivotcon.com/the-state-of-social-marketing-2012-2013/ and http://pivotcon.com/research_reports/SOS2013.pdf
2 http://sloanreview.mit.edu/reports/shifting-social-biz-1/
3 Gartner: Predicts 2013 Social and Collaboration Go Deeper and Wider, November 28, 2012 as cited in the previous MIT report
4 http://www.christopherspenn.com/2013/08/in-case-you-missed-it-the-facebook-algorithm/
5 http://www.vocus.com/blog/facebook-marketing-guide/
6 https://www.facebook.com/help/pages/offers
7 URL Builder = https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en
8 http://www.google.com/analytics/apps/results?category=Campaign%20Management
9 http://www.google.com/analytics/learn/solutions-gallery.html
10 http://www.google.com/analytics/apps/results?q=analytics&start=0
11 Picture from: http://cutroni.com/blog/2012/04/24/a-social-media-dashboard-for-google-analytics/
12 http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/analytics/case_studies/case_study_fairmonthotels_en-US.pdf
13 URL Builder = https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en
14 https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1191180?hl=en
15 http://www.google.com/analytics/features/attribution.html
16 Sevitt, David and Samuel, Alexandra, “How Pinterest Puts People In Stores,” Harvard Business Review, July-August 2013 http://hbr.org/2013/07/how-pinterestputs-people-in-stores (subscription required)
17 http://www.visioncritical.com/news/social-networks-send-buyers-brick-and-mortar-stores-data-reveals
18 https://blog.twitter.com/2013/promoted-tweets-drive-offline-sales-for-cpg-brands
19 http://fbrep.com//SMB/Page_Insights_Guide.pdf
20 https://www.facebook-studio.com/news/item/updating-page-insights
21 Ibid
22 https://www.facebook.com/business/connect
23 https://www.facebook.com/business/roi
24 https://business.twitter.com/products/analytics
25 http://www.vocus.com/blog/google-plus-marketing-guide/
26 Vocus Paper on Google + (http://www.vocus.com/blog/google-plus-marketing-guide/)
27 http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4499/kw/company%20page%20analytics
28 http://business.pinterest.com/verify/

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