In 2010, businesses are getting way more comfortable with social media. They’re losing their fear, they’re engaging more, and they’re genuinely seeking out real relationships with customers. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting any better at tracking or measuring social media. Through my experience working with small business owners, below are the five most common social media measurement mistakes I still see them making.
Which ones are you still committing? It’s okay. This is a safe place.
Not assigning dollar values to social media KPIs
Just because creating a Facebook account is free does not mean that social media is free. There is a cost to everything – from the act of setting up the account, to managing it, to investing time there over somewhere else. You need to know how much social media is costing you. Without that information, you’re not running your campaigns, you’re being run by them and you risk throwing money directly out the window. You should know:
- How much it costs you to receive a mention vs. the ROI associated with it
- How much a social media conversions costs you vs. traditional marketing
- How much it will cost to set up your social media campaigns
- How much it costs to hire people to run them
- How long you’ll need to engage before you see payoff
Social media is no different than any other marketing effort you engage in for your company and you need to treat it that way. If you don’t know how much you can spend on social media before it’s no longer profitable, than your engagement becomes a liability. You put a cost on it by determining your goals, tying those goals to behaviors and then figuring out how much it costs for you to attain them.
Not creating social media landing pages
One of the most common mistakes business owners make in social media is that they treat social visitors the same as those who find them via word of mouth or search. Most times you’re doing this at your own detriment. A visitor who finds you through social media is on an entirely different path than someone who found you via a Google search. In order to maximize their experience, you should be creating separate landing pages for social campaigns and interactions.
These social media landing pages should include:
- A more social and interactive design.
- Socially-based calls to action. For example, instead of driving someone to click on your Contact button or enter a product silo, you may want them to share a certain piece of content, to subscribe to your RSS feed or make them aware of your other social accounts.
- Lighten the ads (or remove them completely).
- Get rid of excess navigation. Chances are someone clicking through your content from a social portal is only interested in that piece of content. They don’t need your full nav.
Providing a targeted social media landing page helps you to address a very different audience base, one that your “traditional” landing page may ignore or even turn off.
Measuring ego, not results
The same way the boss of your local repair shop wanted to rank for “cars” four years ago, now he wants 20,000 Twitter followers and 10,000 Facebook fans. It doesn’t matter that your town only boasts 8,000 people soaking wet. He wants the numbers so he can wear them as a badge of honor and use them as a selling point.
Even if it did make sense to focus all your energy on a single measurement (it doesn’t), picking one that has nothing to do with the actual performance of a campaign makes absolutely no sense. Don’t measure ego; measure behavior, specifically the behaviors that you’ve proven contributed to determined goals – increased participation, subscribers, shares, etc.
Not tracking links
Knowing how obsessed SEOs are with their links, I do tend to find it amusing when site owners completely forget to track links associated with social campaigns. However, amusing as it may be, it’s also a little dangerous. And when I mention links, I’m really talking about two things:
- Referring URLs: If you don’t know which social sites and communities and driving you the most traffic, you need to dip into your analytics and find out. Knowing this helps you see the full picture of the groups talking about you and engaging in your content. Once you know the online hubs who respond to what you’re doing, the more you can target specific content for those outlets to help you increase traffic for future campaigns.
- Incoming/ Passed Links: It goes without saying that you should be tracking backlinks back into your site, regardless of how you’re obtaining them. Just because someone shortens your URL to pass it along in social media, doesn’t mean that URL becomes untrackable. There are plenty of services like BackTweets that track links regardless of how it was shared to prevent you from getting fragmented results. You can also create your own branded URL shortener to encourage people NOT to use a shortened URL so you can get the data from your own analytics or through more traditional link tools like Yahoo Site Explorer.
Ignoring the search factor
One thing I love about social media is that it reminded us that search is about people, not search engines. It’s the people you’re trying to reach and attract with your content. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least be mindful of the search engines when you’re creating your social media campaigns. Social media content is designed to be linked to and shared, which makes it incredibly powerful once it hits the land of search. And by at least being aware of the keywords you’re using, it can help you earn rankings for competitive terms. It is the people who will be responsible for pushing your content through the various social media channels, but the engines are going to follow whatever path you put in motion.
Also be aware of what people are searching for ON Twitter. Danny Sullivan wrote a great post today about the “anyone know” search and how more and more Twitter is being used an alternative search engine. That gives marketers something else to think about and a new way to shape content.
Those are the five common ways I see business owners shooting themselves in the foot when trying to measure social media. Can you add to the list or are you brave enough to own up to something that keeps getting you? We won’t tell.