You need to develop a presence on social media to help you grow your
business and form that all-important relationship with your customers or clients. How do you know if you are using the right medium? Is it even working, at all? What are the social media metrics you should be watching to ensure your company is headed down the right path? Is there any way to find out?

As a matter of fact, there sure is.

The truth is tracking social media doesn’t have to be any more difficult than tracking your other marketing campaigns, you just have to know what to look for. If you are just getting started, below are six metrics worth watching to help you determine how social media is working for your business.

1. Increased awareness/mentions

For many business owners, this is how they will
begin tracking social media because it is an easy way to get started, especially as building awareness is one of the core goals for a business. To gauge how well you are doing, take an initial baseline count of your Twitter followers, your Facebook fans, LinkedIn group members, etc., and then monitor those numbers over time to see how they grow. The exact number of followers/friends/devotees isn’t important in itself (remember, we are shooting for quality, not quantity here); you are just looking to spot the trend. Hopefully, you will find that your numbers are increasing over time. If they are not, this is a good indicator that you are headed down the wrong path and you should revisit your strategy.

What is your strategy? Do you have a strategy?

You can also track awareness by looking at how many mentions you get in a particular day/week/month and benchmark that number as well. How often are you being brought into the conversation and is that number increasing with your social media participation or not?

2. Sentiment analysis

You don’t just want to benchmark the number of mentions your brand is receiving, you also want to look at the type of mentions and whether it is positive or negative. Or, simply, when customers are talking about you, what are they saying? Are they singing the praises of your product or service and talking about how responsive you are? Or are they complaining about your product or service and how they can never get in touch with you?

Ideally, you should be seeing brand awareness and sentiment improve the more you engage and make your business visible. You will also want to document frequent complaints and the ratio of positive to negative mentions to help determine where the social media pendulum is falling for your brand. It makes no sense to be increasing your brand’s awareness if the conversation isn’t one you want people to be having.

3. How social users act

A person exposed to your brand via social media will act differently than a person exposed to your brand via a search. They show up with different expectations, under different pretenses, and with different goals. To make sure you are properly targeting social media users, you will want to segment this part of your traffic and take a look at how they are interacting with your site.

Do they stay on your site longer or shorter than traditional search users? Which social users (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc) are more engaged with your content? Do they become repeat visitors? How much social traffic do you get and how does that traffic compare to search?

What types of social media users do you most attract? Who is sharing your content?

Understanding the different behavior patterns and buying cycles will help you optimize the different experiences. It may also give you some insight into which social media networks are worth your time and which ones you didn’t even think of engaging with.

4. Conversions & Micro-Conversions

Not every social media campaign will be tied to a direct conversion on your site, but if you are running some type of a social media promotion (maybe you are selling an e-book or you are running a Twitter special on cabins at your resort), this is obviously something you will want to track. You want to not only know where these leads come from, but which actions or campaigns prompted them.

What calls to action were used? What landing pages? What sites did you target? These are all things you can track so you can tweak or re-use them next time.

You also want to look at micro-conversions. For example, maybe someone didn’t book a cabin with you right then and there, but they did sign up for email newsletter, subscribed to your blog, or they liked your brand on Facebook. These small successes can build larger successes down the road and are also worth noting. Don’t ignore them.

5. Links to your site

We can’t talk about monitoring an online marketing campaign without talking about links. If you are running a contest, creating content, or doing anything else designed to build interest in your brand, then monitoring your backlinks is a good way to see if it is working or not.

Use a tool (Google Analytics) that can help you find links coming in to that specific URL or to your site as a whole. While this is one way to gauge how widely a specific piece of content was spread, it will also help you find new blogs and authority sites that you will want to participate on to grow your brand even more.

6. New rankings

Having new links and increased buzz opens up an opportunity to build your rankings for new terms, assuming you have taken the time to optimize your social media campaigns for search. Dig into your analytics to see which keywords are bringing in additional traffic to your site, how well those terms are converting for you, and what content piece or promotion generated those additional rankings.

This can help you identify how effective a specific campaign is, while also opening your eyes to keyword opportunities you may have missed before.