Measuring Impact on Social Media


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Marketers spend a good deal of their time segmenting markets, parsing demographics, and searching for niches. Marketing, in some ways more than most fields, lives and dies by the numbers.

It’s not surprising, then, that we focus on numbers with social media. We count likes, connects, and follows. We measure the trajectory of our followings. Pundits and consultants offer guidance on how to grow these audiences. Exchanges exist (“you follow me, and I’ll follow you”) to expand your base. And on and on.

The subtext of this, however, is the burning question of how do we monetize social media, in real life.

And that leads to the question of whether we are, in fact, watching the right numbers. I’d like to suggest that the answer is right in front of us, buried beneath the mania of accreting ever-more followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.

Actually, these platforms already give us the numbers and metrics we need:

• For example, how many of your Twitter followers re-tweet you or comment on your Tweets?

• For example, how many people on LinkedIn actually follow you (as opposed to “connecting,” which some people seem to do just to get their numbers up)? How many comment on your comments in discussions or on your posts or on your “what’s new” offerings? How many “like” what you have to say?

• For example, how many of your Facebook “friends” actually read your posts? How many “like” your posts or comments? How many people are “discussing” what you’ve shared?

These numbers mean something.

Here is where you can discover – easily, quickly, quantifiably – whether and where your social media efforts are having an impact. Here is where you can discover whether anyone is paying attention. Here is where you can find whether your message resonates, and how it resonates most effectively. Here is where you can find which platform works best for your purposes.

And here is where the impact can translate into something real and sales-oriented – with people going to your Web site. People who are “engaged” or attracted by what you have to say become curious about you; and each platform gives you the opportunity to point these people to your site. Unfashionable as it may be to talk about Web sites, this is where you can describe your products and services in detail. This is the place for a discussion of the value and benefits you offer the marketplace. And this is where you turn an interested audience into active prospects.

The numbers I’m suggesting we follow are, obviously, much smaller than a gross count of likes, etc. They don’t sound nearly as impressive when you make presentations about how effective your marketing efforts are.

But they do have some advantages: They are real. They have a real-world meaning. They are at our fingertips. They can help effectively direct your marketing campaign. And they can help you monetize social media in the real world marketplace.

Emily R. Coleman
Dr. Emily R. Coleman is President of Competitive Advantage Marketing, Inc., a firm that specializes in helping companies expand their reach and revenues through strategy and implementation. Dr. Coleman has more than 30 years of hands-on executive management experience working with companies, from Fortune 500 firms to entrepreneurial enterprises. Dr. Coleman's expertise extends from the integration of corporate-wide marketing operations and communications to the development and implementation of strategy into product development and branding.


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