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Stepping Back from Numbers: The Intrinsic Value of Social Media

In the world of social media, there’s a constant conversation about likes, shares, retweets, favorites, etc. to measure the effectiveness of social campaigns. Of course, these are important metrics–especially when it comes time to impress your boss–but what about the myriad things you can’t attach hard and fast numbers to? Those have a value too! And you should make those a part of our decision making process as well. Below, I will outline three interconnected and hard-to-measure metrics we should consider when we think about our social media success, and how we can use these three things to improve content and campaigns.


Current Customer Satisfaction

Social media marketing often focuses on reaching potential new customers and generating leads. However, it’s extremely important to build online relationships with existing customers and engage with them on a regular basis. Keep these customers satisfied, and they have the potential to quickly become your biggest brand advocates. They will share your product with their friends and market for you for free. It’s tempting to try to reach more and more new people and get them to like, share, and RT your amazing content. But, if you neglect the current customer base you will miss out on the chance to create super-fans and brand advocates. This is tricky to measure because it’s sentiment-based; how do you really measure “happiness”? While there are tools out there that can help with this, it’s less data based, especially since the majority of your fans only lurk on your profiles and don’t actually interact.


So, how can you make sure to keep your current fan-base satisfied? By focusing on what interests them. For example, instead of posting about your new product, occasionally post about ways to use this new product, for those fans who have already purchased. Or, you could ask them to submit pictures of themselves and your product. Likewise, you could showcase how fans use your product with customer spotlights. And of course, always, always, always respond to comments, questions, and concerns you receive from the community (a tool like Viralheat can make this much easier to do). Involve customers in the process of building your brand, and they’ll help you in more ways than you can measure.


Word of Mouth

When your current customers are satisfied they’ll tell their friends. Social media is a great place for them to do this. Of course, this has to do with your product, but it also has to do with how you support and build your online community. Keeping your current customers happy leads to good word of mouth.


Why is this hard to measure? Because people often make recommendations in private profiles, you can (and should!) use a tool that monitors online mentions to find them. To ensure that positive things are being said about you, again, you should cater to the current customer and not just to new leads. Additionally, if you’re already engaging with current customers online and they know about your presence there, you can encourage them to tag you in their posts, contributing to your social proof (which I will discuss below).


Social Proof and Online Reputation

Engaging with your customers and building online relationships is an amazing form of ‘social proof,’ which is, according to Wikipedia, “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation”. In other words, people are influenced by other people– plain and simple.


Now that you’ve spent some time engaging with current customers, now is time yo build a community that is not only sales-driven, but also encourages users to ‘like’ your brand through good word of mouth. It’s likely that your fans will start to leave you reviews. Good reviews are an amazing form of marketing, as over 70% of Americans look at reviews before making a purchase. In my personal experience, I often direct people to our social media profiles when they are unsure of whether to purchase from a competitor or us. When they see all of the nice things people have said– they choose us. This is because we keep up with current customers, have legitimate conversations with them, and build relationships. This way they know we exist on social media, and can also write us reviews. We’re on their social media radar when it comes time for them to show us their love. Now, this is certainly not something that’s impossible to measure– you could simply count the number of reviews that are being left for you. But again, many of these reviews will be private, so it’s up to you to do your best to make sure they’re positive, and that your fans are satisfied.


The Takeaway

So, what can we learn from this? That it’s important not only to focus on the numbers, but also on the more intangible things online — sentiment, happiness, and the like.


Author Bio:

Rachel is the Community Manager at Magoosh, running its popular newsletters and social media accounts, and using her community-building skills to keep the Magoosh user base happy, healthy, and growing. In her time at Magoosh, she built the student community from practically non-existent to nearly 10,000 Facebook likes and 3500 Twitter followers. You can find her on Twitter here.

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