The mistake that far too many businesses make with social media is jumping in head first with no plan. They have perhaps heard that they need to use social because it will drive sales, so they assign someone to create Facebook and Twitter accounts, and maybe Pinterest or Google+ pages.
“There you are,” they say to the lucky (if not bewildered) overworked team member who has just become the company’s social media manager. “Hop to it. Start using social media for us.”
Then they sit impatiently, drumming their fingers together, waiting for business to boom.
The person in charge of social might have absolutely no idea what’s going on because the company itself has no idea what’s going on. Their competition is using social media. Customers are there. They’ve been told they should be there too.
A week later, they haven’t seen astronomical results, and they’re cross with the social media manager. Two weeks later, they decide social isn’t even worth it and give up. All of their accounts still smell like whatever the Internet equivalent of a new car is, but they’ve been abandoned along the side of the “info highway” (a lame, dated comparison that I couldn’t resist making).
So what went wrong? Maybe it would be better to ask what didn’t go wrong.
First of all, they took someone who was already serving another role and added social media on top of it. This person didn’t know what to do with that, and the company likely didn’t know that social media isn’t free. The tools are often free, but time is money. And social media certainly takes time.
Which brings me to the next point. They didn’t give it enough time to start working. Had they realized that and gradually built a social presence over time, they would have seen engagement increase.
And when their fans and followers started to take hold and engage and interact, that’s when they could have begun measuring that engagement. I really like this infographic from Social Bakers that explains why this measurement is so important and how it can be calculated.
The measurement formula provided in the infographic can be used for any social network that uses public data. This means that, not only can you measure the engagement with your own posts, but because the data is public, you can measure your competitors, as well. I thought it was interesting to note in this infographic that Mercedes had more fans than Audi, but Audi, whose fans were more engaged, saw more interaction each month.
Which goes to show that the number of followers and ‘Likes’ that you have doesn’t always mean you’re “winning” social media. It’s what those followers are doing that matters most.
So what will this measurement do for you in terms of overall social ROI? It will allow you to see which networks and platforms are working best for you so that you can determine where to focus your efforts in the long term. That’s not to say that you should necessarily give up on platforms that aren’t seeing as much engagement. Recognizing those low numbers can help you to redouble your efforts on those sites to increase engagement and interaction.
When this measurement is up, you know that you’re reaching more people, which means you’re effectively spreading brand awareness.
And brand awareness can create new leads, which can create new business.
So before you jump into social media or decide that it’s not worth it, consider the following:
1. Social media takes time. It doesn’t work overnight. The amount of time it takes is frequently related to how much time you can put into it.
2. Someone who is already filling another role doesn’t generally have much time to put into social media. If you have the means to hire someone specifically for a social role, consider doing so. In either case, develop a social media strategy before jumping in.
3. There is a lot of trial and error involved. You might measure engagement and get great results, tweak your process, and then get a lower number. This is another reason that you have to give it time to work. After all, you need time to figure out what works.
Are you measuring engagement as part of your overall social ROI? What are some best tips or practices that you would suggest to those who are just getting started?