One of the first things they do when you come into a hospital, or a doctor’s office, is take your pulse. A lot can be determined just from taking that simple measurement. Are you having a heart attack? Is that pain in your chest really just indigestion? A lot of initial theories can be generated just from monitoring your heart rate. That’s why many people who run or jog spend a lot of time monitoring their pulse, as well. They can tell how hard they have been working and even get a rough idea of the amount of calories they have burned off just from spending a moment checking where their pulse it as once they finish a run.
A doctor would not be likely to come into the emergency room, pull that so-called privacy curtain, and just start sticking someone with needles without taking a look at the heart rate. The same could be said about exercising. It would probably be unwise to just strap some ankle weights on your legs and start running.
The same thing can be said when it comes to your social media program. The very last thing you should do is start signing up with every social media trend that exists, create profiles, maybe post a few things, and then not stop to take your pulse. How will you ever be able to determine if you are getting any ROI from your social media efforts if you don’t have some kind of monitoring system in place? It takes more to run a social media program than signing up and posting, but sometimes companies fail to look past that initial set-up phase.
Many companies want to determine their ROI from social media by tracking sales. They are looking for that mythical “Northwest Passage” in social media that leads directly from posting something on a Facebook page to more sales phone calls or inquiries. The problem is that, like that mythical passage, the real solutions and answers are often elusive. It is also exceedingly hard to tell where that incoming sales call came from. Did they find you through an ad, a by-lined article, a brochure or through something you posted on your blog?
This is why signing up for one of the monitoring services, or using some of the most basic monitoring tools is so important. Social media may not be the one thing that leads directly to more sales. However, it can be used very effectively to increase brand awareness and put your company, your product or services top of mind amongst consumers. When they think about your particular industry, they should be thinking about you and using social media can help with that.
The question is, how? Well, that’s where it gets tricky and where monitoring your social media heartbeat is so important. Through the various online services (many of them free) you can easily see what percentage of the online audience is talking about you, and whether or not that chatter is positive or negative. It’s like going for a three-mile jog and then pausing to check your heart rate. Are you doing OK, feeling healthy and should you keep going? Or, perhaps there is a way to change the path you are on, being more or less aggressive, that can improve your overall score and social media health.
The point is that just creating a social media profile in a few places and starting to post sporadically is probably not the best way to be fully utilizing the potential within social media. Each person that “likes” you on Facebook, brings the potential for that person’s list of friends to also come knocking. It’s the whole concept of reaching a person and that person, in turn, bringing a friend and that person bringing a friend and expanding your reach that way.
If all of this is making you scratch your head and wonder if social media was something you should have gotten into in the first place, relax. There are people out there who can help you. They can provide practical advice about how to monitor your reach and the subsequent “buzz” your social media efforts have generated. They have tools at their fingertips that can drill down to other blogs and websites where people leaving comments are mentioning your name or your company’s name.
Just think of them as the doctors who can take your pulse and tell you, quickly, and from just a few key searches, how healthy your social media program is. From that, they can then tell you what you need to do to improve things and extend your reach. Social media doesn’t have to be scary and can bring you untold reach and power, if used wisely and well.