Today’s guest post is from Gini Dietrich.
You’re a business owner. You likely went out on your own because you were really good at your job and may even have discovered a new and different way to do things in a way your former employer never would have considered.
But no one told you you’d do less of your craft and more of things where you have no experience: HR, accounting, accounts payable, business development, advertising, PR, and marketing. If things go according to plan, you’re growing and adding people and increasing inventory, which requires multiple trips to the bank to discuss cash flow while you wait to get paid.
Things, while challenging, are going along swimmingly.
And then the economy tanked and we faced the worst recession since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, people began buying differently. Your foot traffic declined. Your prospect lunches dried up. Heck, people stop answering their phones.
Suddenly you had to be good at all of the things listed above AND social media.
In the beginning, social media “experts” advised to worry less about the ROI (“what’s the ROI of your mom?“) and more about just getting out there and participating in the conversation.
But now, after several years of using the tools for business growth and development, brand awareness and thought leadership aren’t enough. It’s time to measure your efforts directly to business goals.
The Complete Measurement Guide
The very first thing you need to do is figure out why you’re using social media and how it integrates with the rest of your marketing and communications.
Everything you do should drive people – customers, prospects, critics, loyalists, employees, even competitors – to something you own. You won’t be an expert in each of the social tools. Rather, you’ll be an expert in communications via the social web that drive people to your website and/or blog.
- Determine your goals. What are you trying to achieve? Is it increased leads? Is it improved margins? Is it increased fundraising? Is it bigger sales per customer? Whatever it is, know what you want to accomplish very first thing.
- Monitor the web. Too many business leaders see the shiny new penny and think, “OK, now we have to figure out this new tool.” Not so. By using tools such as Google alerts, you can figure out where your customers and prospects already participate online. If they’re on Twitter, that’s where you’ll spend your time. If they’re writing blogs, you’ll comment on their blogs and create your own blog. But just because Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are the most popular social networks doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. Figure out where your audiences are online and build your efforts there.
- Align efforts to goals. This is so important, yet very few actually do it. Let’s say your goal is to drive more retail sales. You wouldn’t, then, create a 30 percent off coupon for Facebook fans to buy online. If your goal is to drive more retail sales, use tools that drive people into your store and create loyalty, such as Foursquare or Belly.
- Figure out your content needs. The very best way to get started creating content is to change your website. I like to tell clients to take the French out of their websites – the we, we, we – as a first step. Create content that is valuable, educational, and about them, not you. Then, as your content needs grow, look at your customers and employees to help tell stories.
- Don’t dismiss soft metrics. Brand awareness and credibility are still extremely important. But they shouldn’t be your only metrics. The soft metrics can lead to things such as paid speaking engagements, industry event appearances, and customer events that eventually lead to increased sales.
- Measure, measure, measure. It used to be you’d have to wait a full year to gain any metrics on whether or not your marketing and communications worked. Now you know instantly. Don’t measure the ego-driven metrics (increased traffic or stories about your company in print). Measure the types of things that get you to numbers one and three in this list.
- Improve and refine. As you measure your efforts, you’ll find places where you can improve. Do it. Don’t be afraid to switch gears a bit during the process. Improve, refine, and measure some more.
- Social Media Has Created Two Types of Users (spinsucks.com)
- Understanding Paid, Owned and Earned Media (waxingunlyrical.com)
- Educating in the Round: A Call for Academic Collaboration (inklingmedia.net)
- Facebook is Not a Strategy (inklingmedia.net)
- Faking it on Social Media: What are the Costs? (spinsucks.com)