I laugh when I see the term, “social media expert.“ Let’s be honest. It’s an emerging field and the only thing that makes someone an expert is that they have labeled themselves as such and they read Mashable and Seth Godin.
With that in mind, I’ll just point out that for the last two years I’ve gotten paid to handle social media. I don’t know if that makes me an expert in the field, but it does mean that I’m employed in the field. (And I read Mashable and Seth Godin just for good measure.)
So, how do I measure success?
- Size of following. Having 25,000 followers on Twitter or 10,000 fans of your Facebook page doesn’t mean jack.
- Contest excitement. I love hosting contests as much as the next guy, but hosting a big contest doesn’t mean jack.
- Being active. Utilizing the tools of social media is important, but just showing up doesn’t mean jack.
- Atta boys. [Or atta girls] When you first get started everyone in your organization will be excited, but that doesn’t mean jack.
- Sales or lead generation. This may make the boss happy, but in most cases it doesn’t mean jack.
- Engagement. Are your followers, fans, subscribers listening to the stuff you send out in a measurable way? Do they click on links you recommend? Do they comment on stuff you post? Do they open the emails you send? Having a large following is only as valuable as your ability to engage those people. Otherwise, your just another message they are ignoring. I’d rather have 100 engaged Twitter followers than 25,000 who ignore me. What to measure: comments, likes, open rates, click rates, number of clicks, mentions on fan/followers feeds.
- Users who contribute. Is your effort a two-way conversation? Traditional marketing is about pushing a message. Social media is about pulling a response. It’s shocking to me how many organizations have large followings but only push. And they wonder why they think their social media efforts are a waste of money? They are! What to measure: Submissions, Facebook messages, Twitter direct messages, unsolicited or solicited ideas.
- Repeaters. This post is the perfect example. When I press publish on this blog post, my own network will draw a couple hundred visitors. But this post will be read several thousand times in just 7 days. How did that happen? Repeaters. What to measure: Facebook shares, Twitter retweets, add-to-this analytics, trackbacks, blog posts about your content/product/service.