Social media marketing strategies remain some of the most popular campaigns in the marketing industry, and for good reason. Social media marketing has proven itself to be more than just a fad, and major platforms like Facebook and Twitter have committed themselves to making ongoing improvements that make their apps even more appealing to businesses. It’s free to set up an account, there are billions of potential people to reach, and if you make use of their paid advertising services, you can get access to tons of customer and demographic data.
Even better, if you make use of a marketing report to better understand your campaign results, you can make changes that improve your bottom-line return on investment (ROI) over time. Most people prioritize a single variable—social media traffic—to determine the effectiveness of their campaigns. But is this really enough to gauge whether your efforts are worth it?
Social Media Traffic: Beyond Likes
Most experienced marketers understand that certain social media metrics, like how many likes or followers you have, are somewhat superficial. Having more followers and more likes can boost your reputation and possibly improve your social media reach, but they aren’t necessarily going to bring value to your brand.
That’s where socially originated traffic comes into play. Whatever your brand’s goals are, whether you’re a company trying to sell products or a nonprofit trying to get volunteers or donors, you’ll benefit from attracting more people to your main site. It’s also an indication that your posts have merit; people will generally only click links if you’ve managed to catch their attention and make a good impression.
But is this really enough to measure your success?
Where Traffic Falls Short
Unfortunately, social-originating traffic alone can’t give you an accurate picture of the health of your campaign because it ignores these other variables:
- Conversion rates and traffic value. You may have lots of people coming to your site, but how much is that traffic really worth? If the average site visitor spends some time poking around your blog, but they never buy anything, they essentially have a value of zero. Determine your conversion rate and the average value of a conversion to get a ballpark of your traffic value. Granted, this has more to do with the structure of your site than your social media efforts, but if your site isn’t pulling its weight, all the social traffic in the world can’t help you.
- Brand reputation growth. Inbound traffic can be good and secure you more conversions, but there’s also a subtler benefit of social media marketing: improving your brand visibility and reputation. Traffic can serve as a secondary indicator of your social reach, but it can’t tell you much about how many people are aware of your brand, whether they can recognize your brand, or what they think of you.
- Engagements and mentions. Along similar lines, traffic can’t tell you much about how people are engaging with your brand. Is your brand seeing a trend of increasing mentions across platforms? When you post new content, do people ask you questions about it? Are you able to cultivate discussion threads, or do conversations usually die out?
- Effects on secondary marketing campaigns. When used properly, social media marketing isn’t a standalone strategy; it’s part of a cohesive network of strategies that also includes content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and email marketing. Determining how social media complements these other strategies is just as important as measuring its impact alone.
- How much you’re spending. The true value of a marketing strategy depends on its return on investment (ROI), but your ROI is more than a measure of how much revenue you’re generating—it also depends on how much you’re spending to keep the campaign alive. For example, let’s say your social media campaign is generating $1,000 in new sales per month, but you’re spending $500 in advertising, and you’ve hired someone at $20 an hour to spend 20 hours a week managing your campaign. At $400 a week, that’s $1,600 in wages, which means you’re spending $2,100 a month to see that $1,000 in value. Keep track of how much you’re spending, in both time and money, to understand your campaign’s value fully.
Social media is a complex marketing strategy that must be measured quantitatively and qualitatively if you want to understand its true potential. Narrowing your vision to one or two key variables will save you time, and might help you simplify your high-level strategy, but it will blind you to your campaign’s true performance. Make sure you understand exactly how your social media strategy is working for you, and don’t be shy about making changes to improve your results.