How can we justify using social media is valuable? It’s all about measuring your efforts, just as you would with a traditional public relations campaign.

By Samantha Scott, APR

Metrics are a huge component of website analytics and they should be a primary component of your social media efforts as well. I like to use the concept of “spray and pray”. This is the old method of marketing and advertising, really even communication – send the message to everyone, every way we can and hope it hits the target. Now, we can communicate with our employees, customers, prospects and others in very specific, direct ways. Measuring that communication will only serve to make it better.
So how do we do it? There are lots of systems you can pay for such as Radian6, but they are very pricey and often only applicable for large companies. If you don’t fit that bill, then take a look at some options you can leverage on your own.
First of all, you have access your online activities – a social media communications audit of sorts. Make a list of every web/social presence you have. Once you have that, get a baseline for your audience size, activity and engagement. This will give you something to compare to next month, in 6 months, next year. Then, start measuring what you’re doing and how it’s affecting these components. Most of the networks have some sort of  measurement tool built in for businesses…
Facebook has Insights, which has recently changed. If you use Twitter, Hootsuite is a great management and measurement tool, while can help with brand mentions. There’s also overall social media/web presence measurement tools like Klout and of course, basic web traffic tracking on your website. The key is, keep a list of what you’re doing and then watch the results – audience size, number of comments/likes, retweets, user posts, leads to your website, etc. Then you’ll know if you’re giving your audience what they want or if you might need to switch things up.