The Facebook page is up and running. You’re posting on a regular basis. You’ve got photos and other things up on the page. People are leaving comments when you post. Now what? How do you know if the page is really working? That’s the wall that so many businesses run into once they start a social media effort. How do you determine whether or not a Facebook page, or Twitter account, or Google+ page is having any effect? For many companies, the problem lies within the fact that they are using a new medium, but still thinking in an old-school way. Facebook and other social media do not fit neatly into old-school ways of thinking.
The statistic that most business people look at is sales. They created a Facebook page. They talk about their products. They post all kinds of things on the site about how great the products are. So, why aren’t the phones ringing off the hook and why hasn’t their business taken off and gone through the roof? The important thing to remember here is that Facebook and sales do not necessarily mesh in that way. Facebook is not meant to be, nor was it ever really created to be, a sales tool.
If sales are not the ultimate measurement, then what is? How can you determine whether or not your Facebook page doing its job?
1. Number of “likes.” This is probably the most obvious one. How many people have “liked” your Facebook page? Before there was the ever-present “like” button pages were known as “Fan Pages” and you had a number of fans. Regardless if you still call them fans or talk about the number of likes, this is a number that can indicate how well your page is doing.
2. Comments and responses. If you post something to your page every day and, every day, someone leaves a comment or “likes” the thing you posted, then you know you’re doing something right. The Facebook page was meant to be interactive. Make sure you are paying attention to the people who are leaving comments, as well. Are you thanking them publicly? Are you answering their questions? Interact with these people or they can leave just as easily as they arrived.
3. Facebook Insights. Still the type of person who prefers hard numbers and graphs? Fortunately, there is something called Facebook Insights that you can use that will provide you with just those sorts of things. Check out http://facebook.com/insights and, if you happen to be a page administrator, you’ll see how that page has been doing. You might be surprised. See how many times the page gets posted on someone else’s news feed? What did you post on that particular day when the number was particularly high? This can give you deeper insight into your Facebook page than you probably ever thought you’d need or want.
4. Social Mention and more. You can use online tools like Social Mention and Klout (for Twitter) to try and gauge your effectiveness. Most of these tools are free. There are also paid services that go even deeper to monitor your effectiveness online. Use these carefully and make absolutely sure that the data you are collecting is correct. Sometimes you may think you are doing great and then realize your search terms on a site like Social Mention were completely wrong and way off.
5. People actually mentioning it to you. Of course, there might be people who actually tell you that they found your company via Facebook or whatever social media outlets you have decided to use. It is still debatable if it is considered bad manners or tacky to start asking people who call in where they found you, but some companies do that sort of thing. Remember, put your Facebook page address within your email signature, company website home page and anywhere else you feel it’s appropriate. That way you may get responses through the website or via email letting you know that they liked or visited your Facebook page.
6. Sales increases. As mentioned above, sales increases should NOT be the deciding factor when it comes to whether or not your social media plan is working. However, if you have zero sales before you start, and start breaking sales records after creating a Facebook page or social media effort, you might be able to draw a connection. There is no guarantee and without conducting surveys of each sales contact or questioning each caller, it may be very hard to say that it was the social media efforts that improved sales or just you becoming more focused, determined or finding the right people to sell to.
The frustrating truth is that there is no one sure-fire way to know how well your social media efforts are working. The world is still trying to figure out how useful social media is. At the same time, any company that has decided social media is not for them is missing out and the train is passing them by. Any company that goes into social media half-heartedly and without a strategy could be leaping in front of the train, and could get run over.