You would think it would be easy to tell whether your social network marketing plan was working or not. After all, you’ve either got hundreds of new contacts and a landslide of Internet orders or you don’t… right?
It’s not really that simple.
New revenue, customers, and contacts are the simplest way to gauge your progress, but the problem is they tend to show up relatively late in the game. It’s very possible to be making progress long before it shows up in your bank balance, or your e-mail list, which is why it’s so important to pay attention to some other relevant indicators before you decide to pour a lot more money into your social networking plan… or ditch it altogether.
Here are a few ways to get – and use – the right metrics for social media:
Put technology on your side. By all means, take advantage of the software and tools available for tracking hits to your website, registering traffic on your blog, finding out how people are coming to you, and so on. The more information you have, the more informed your future choices and investments will be. If you can’t tell where customers are coming from, or why, then how will you know which parts of your social networking plan to keep pouring time and money into?
Look at the situation from all angles. That doesn’t mean you can stop at simply looking at before and after sales numbers. You need a big picture perspective. For example, it would be easy to see a growing number of Twitter followers, and an increase in online sales, and conclude that things are going well. They might be, but it also could be a case of cannibalizing your offline sales by driving buyers online for lower prices, or enticing new customers with price cuts that you can’t sustain over the long term. These would be extreme examples, of course, but the point to remember is that you need to keep a close eye on how things are really going… not just the numbers of “friends” and sales you have.
Know when to pull the plug. As we hope you’ve gathered by now, nearly every business can use some level of social network marketing. That’s not to say that every business needs a ton of it, though, or that every online marketing firm you can hire is worth the expense. Keep tabs on your social network marketing plan and if it looks like things aren’t working out the way they should, don’t be afraid to pull back and go smaller – or even start over. The process takes time, but it only works if you do it the right way, so be ruthless in your desire to stop throwing time and money at activities that aren’t ever going to pay dividends.
Build and keep building. In the end, social networking always comes down to widening your net and broadening your reach. To that end, start with quality content and strong profiles, and then keep adding to them. I can promise you that, eventually, the payoff in your ability to reach potential customers and industry peers – instantly and with the full weight of a strong social networking profile – will be well worth the wait and effort.