Well done to those companies who have taken the first step, bitten the bullet and courageously clicked on to social media. However, the hard work does not stop there; with social media comes the ongoing job of maintenance, monitoring and measurement.
Social media is undoubtedly very time consuming and it is therefore in a company’s interest to make sure that time and money is spent wisely by using social media to the most effective means. A company will want to make sure it is worth their while and there is good return on investment (ROI). This can be ensured through measurability.
There is no excuse for not measuring your social media, the beauty of it is that anyone can compete; even the smallest company can contend with the largest company in the online arena as it is largely free. Consequently, measurability is can be achieved with a range of free online measuring tools available to you.
These are some great tools that can help:
- Bit.ly is a new trend that can shorten a link and then show the traffic, history, conversations and statistics involving the specific link.
- Addict-o-matic is a social media search engine, which shows how your brand is presented on a range of social media sites e.g. Flickr, Digg and YouTube.
- SocialMention gives percentages on how your brand relates to certain common social media words – strength, passion, reach and sentiment.
These tools can highlight the areas to work on to grow and become more successful:
- Twazzup shows how your brand is performing on twitter.
- Twitter Grader places all your users 1-100 to see who is most engaged and perhaps most advantageous for you to follow.
- Twinfluence measures the influence others have on twitter, indicating which users you may want to follow and interact with.
- Tweetcloud creates a summary of user’s content from their tweets so you can quickly evaluate whether this information could be useful to you and if you want to follow them.
- Qwitter lets you know when someone has stopped following you and which tweet caused them to stop.
These tools can help to identify who your audience is and what interests them. Once you know who your audience is, you will be able to tailor your message directly to them.
Using these tools you can track which materials get the most attention and what is boring to your audience; so that you can build on an effective page only posting interesting information.
A major part of measurability is creating a set of goals and working towards them e.g. the amount of interaction, number of hits, comments or views that your page receives. By knowing what interests your audience you can work towards meeting your goals more effectively. Using online measurability tools you can watch how your online activity is progressing and if you are using social media effectively.
Another advantage of measurability is the ability to track customers. There are tools available online for you to see how people stumbled upon your site, were they referred from your Twitter, Facebook or Flickr page? This way you be able to pinpoint the most effective means of sourcing new customers and build on it. You may find that some sites are good at attracting new customers while others are better at relationship building and maintaining current customers. With tracking you will also be able to see if your activity online has a direct effect on sales. Do your sales increase when information and promotions are released on twitter?
For some, all this may sound quite confusing and a bit daunting being introduced to a completely new realm of PR and a more advanced way of doing things, when in fact it could be argued that measuring your campaign online is actually easier then measuring a traditional campaign. With online measurability all your analytical material is provided; with tables and charts are automatically composed ready to view and be analysed.
Traditionally, a company would receive feedback through surveys, questionnaires, comment cards, focus groups or telephone calls and then collate the information manually into a graph or a chart. Unfortunately, these traditional methods are very time consuming and often little feedback from customers is received (it can also irritate them!) With social media it is all done without the customers even realising and with little manual work from the company, therefore more beneficial to both parties.
With social media comes a new transparency, you are now open to direct contact with your customers in a public, open domain that leaves your company at risk of public criticism – online anyone can take over your comment and twist it. Due to these risks it is vital that your online activity and interaction is monitored to prevent any arising crises.
The new transparency means that each company can gain an insight into how their competitors are doing things; you can view their activity and campaigns and evaluate how they compare to your own and perhaps identify areas in which you can improve or areas that you are stronger in.
Despite this advantage, it is difficult to measure how you actually compare to each other. Although it is easy to measure your own reach and effectiveness there is no standard way to see how you compare in effectiveness and scope apart from comparing number of followers.
This new sphere of public relations will take a while for everyone to adapt to but the benefits are clearly there. PR now has a large aspect of social media, it is up to companies whether they want to get involved or not. If a company is going to use social media then it is vital that they measure their activity otherwise they could be completely wasting their time. Through measurability a company will be able to ensure that they are using social media to the most effective means; otherwise it will go unnoticed. To use social media effectively it should have a direct affect on your sales and increase the awareness of your company and maintain positive relationships with your customers.
Social media is not something you can half-heartedly get involved in – for me it’s all or nothing and to help along the way you have a variety of tools to choose from. Social media is something that needs to be maintained, monitored and measured throughout and you must continually keep active to keep your viewers interested.
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