We blog, we tweet, we post. Our measurement systems tell us how many people read, click, and retweet. If we’re smart, we can tell how many people are seeing our messages and how many people are responding to them in some relevant way. We know how many people clicked through and downloaded whitepapers. We know how many people may have clicked through and purchased something we sell online.
But for all the measures and analytics we have with social media marketing, we still don’t have a full understanding of what it really does for our business.
I had the honor of sitting on a panel at South by Southwest recently with Katie Paine, Lisa Joy Rosner, Jeremiah Owyang, and Dave Evans. We talked about social media coming of age and how businesses are beginning to reach a maturation with social marketing.
Owyang brought up an interesting point that I see as the next generation of business measures we focus on in social media. He said we’ve become really good at monitoring and analyzing what people are saying, but we still haven’t connected those dots to what people are doing. We have to start analyzing consumer behavior, not just conversations, to get a true peek into how effective our social marketing can be.
Evans chimed in that once we begin to see the behavior and ladder that information to the overall operations of a company, then we really begin to see what a social business really looks like.
While some of us can argue we know what social media marketing can make our customers do, the only ones who can really report those metrics are the ones who only sell things online. If you have a brick and mortar store, a B2B business with a long buying cycle, or a professional service as your primary product, you don’t know for sure where that customer came from.
Did your tweets produce leads that led to business? A Facebook promotion? Photos pinned on Pinterest? What about your email marketing?
Even the most sophisticated measurement systems have trouble delineating where customers really came from unless the websitevisitor came from a social channel and purchased something right away. If website visitors downloaded a white paper or signed up for a webinar in a standard, digital marketing lead-generation mechanism, some companies will track that lead through the process and credit it back to the inbound channel.
But honestly, many companies don’t try hard enough to provide that level of accountability.
The next great leap for us as social marketers is to develop systems that do. We’ve got to begin taking social media metrics and turning them into business metrics. We have to be able to say, within some level of reason, that Facebook or LinkedIn means X or Y amount in business to us.
If we don’t continue to push for those systems, we’ll soon find ourselves trying to convince someone else that counting followers and fans is a good way to measure social media. And that someone else will be people interviewing us for our next jobs.
Jason Falls is an author, speaker, and CEO of Social Media Explorer. He is hosting Explore Nashville, a one-day, intensive social media and digital marketing workshop on April 13 in Nashville, Tenn., along with a who’s who of digital marketing expert speakers. MarketingProfs readers are entitled to a 50% discount for the event. Go to GoToExplore.co and use the Promotional Code MPROFS to get half off your ticket to Explore Nashville on April 13.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Skydiver)
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