social media measurementBusiness owners are accustomed to tracking their results when it comes to marketing, whether online or off. There are certain methods for calculating your return on investment which are in most cases pretty straightforward.

Along comes social media marketing and suddenly measuring your ROI isn’t so cut and dry. I am often asked how you can tell whether the time you’ve spent on social media activities is really making a difference. Here are some easy–as well as free–ways to help determine whether your social media efforts are sizzling…or fizzling.

Profile engagement: Are people in your target market replying to you on Twitter,  inviting you to join groups on LinkedIn, commenting on your Facebook wall, and so on?

Followers and friends: I often emphasize the fact that quantity doesn’t always equal quality–but it is one indication of whether you’re being seen, heard and offering something of value.

Blog subscribers: If readers like what they see and want to be notified of each time you post, you can be sure you’ve struck a chord with them–as well as increased the possibility that they will respond well to offers you make in the future.

Newsletter subscribers: If the visitors being driven to your site by social media are being converted into e-zine subscribers, you know that you have appealed to them enough to further the relationship with you. The fact that you have their permission to communicate with them regularly will only strengthen the know, like and trust factor.

Links from other blogs: Is your site being linked to by other relevant blogs? This can indicate that you are providing valuable content as well as posting consistently.

Website metrics: Google Analytics is a free tool that makes it easy to see your page views per visitor, time spent on the site, unique visitors, frequency of visits, conversions and more.

Blog comments: Comments will tell you not only that your content is interesting, fresh and worthy of reading–but that readers are willing to stick around and take the time to engage you.

Social bookmarking/social news: Are your blog posts being voted up or bookmarked on sites like StumbleUpon, Delicious and Digg?

Products/services sold: This is the ultimate goal, obviously. All of the indicators above help give you a clearer picture of how likely it is that this goal will be reached.

So, it boils down to:  Are you being seen as an expert? Are you findable? Do people want to find out more about what it is you do?

You may not be able to equate your interactions to dollars right away, but you are planting seeds which can pay off in a big way later on.  In my eyes, that makes social media well worth most small business owners’ time.

How do you measure the impact of your social media activities?  Do you have a system for for tracking your results?

Photo credit: kevinzhengli

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