At the End of the Day
The popular conception of social media is often one of a party. In other words, it’s seen as a fun, if a bit more casual, way to market your business. While it can really help your business become successful online, it is still seen as a bit less useful business tool than, say, PPC (pay-per-click) or search engine optimization (SEO). “It’s for kids,” some say.
The problem is often that online business pros don’t approach social media campaigns with intention. If you are going to use any business tool properly, you have to use it seriously. Social media is no different; at the end of the day, you have to use social media as purposefully and thoroughly as any other business tool, period.
This starts right from the beginning of your usage of social media. You have to create accounts specifically for your business, not you or your personal usage: post information relative information for your business, have a regular posting schedule for business updates, and have someone to do the regular maintenance to your social media, be it you or another employee. Those are the beginnings of correct social media usage, and the easy stuff to get going.
Where to Find Hard Numbers
The work begins to get tricky when you really want to see how well your social media is performing over time. Again, this is all about taking your marketing campaign seriously. A campaign of any variety has to have an outlet for the people conducting it to see the hard numbers up close. For social media, there are a few different ways to do this.
There should always be some way to for you to monitor your social media widget and how people are accessing it out of interest in your social media site. As part of social media SEO, your analytics should also show how much traffic is coming to your web site, how good business has been once you’ve optimized your content, and how many sign-ups you’ve gotten from your social media site(s). A lot of social media sites now have such a function to do analytics, but if you can’t get it, purchasing your own analytic tools might be even better (i.e. “Spredfast,” “Sysomos,” etc.). These tools will let you see the real numbers as they are, and not what you think they are.
One thing here: when you are examining your social media for its effectiveness, don’t just go along with whatever you are reading off of your social media blog. You are likely going to get comments on the blog, some bad but a lot good, saying how much clients or blog readers like what you do. This is nice, and you will likely appreciate it from clients and fans, but this can also be just a bit of random ego stroking. People might say they like what you do, but this does not always translate to real business success. Obviously, you can make use of your blog for business-to-client communication, but you can’t really use it as a way to see how well your social media is doing performance-wise.
Beware of the “So-Called”
In relation to the aforementioned suggestion about having someone to manage your social media, be wary of so-called social media experts. It makes a lot of sense to hire someone who claims to be “good at social media” and can get you “a lot of fans,” especially if you are green at social media. But a lot of these folks, however bright-eyed and bushy-tailed they are, cannot market to save their souls. If you are going to splurge and bring someone on the payroll to manage your social media, make sure they know to market within the context of the media itself. This will help you step up productivity and you can share the real rewards with them when they come in. Now, that’s a real party if there ever was.
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Your last paragraph is so true. I see people being hired to handle social media that are great at setting up the various venues (Twitter, Facebook, etc) but are clueless as to how to merge them with the organization’s marketing goals.