This content was created through a collaboration with the folks over at Zoho Social. To dive into more advanced topics on social media marketing, check out their educational content on The Social Journal.

As we’ve covered so far, social media marketing can get your business in front of new eyes and generate word of mouth buzz, leads, and sales—as long as you use the right approach. However, it’s not enough to simply share good content. You need to be tracking your efforts and their results, so that you can fine-tune your social media strategy over time. We’ll show you how, starting with…

Setting your goals and objectives

As with any marketing venture, you should begin creating your social media strategy by figuring out what you hope to accomplish. There are two ways to approach this:

  • Overall social media marketing goals
  • Goals for each social media network

Your overall goals for social media

Your overall goals should align with your current marketing plans and your current business priorities. Do you want to close more sales? Attract more leads? Generate more word-of-mouth referrals?

Once you know what your overall goals are, you can work backwards from there based on your current resources. If your current goal is attracting more leads, and you only have the resources for one platform at the moment, you should choose a platform that will work best for that goal. If you’re a B2B business, that’s probably LinkedIn; if you’re B2C, that’s likely Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Individual goals for each network

If you’re only using one or two platforms at the moment, then you won’t need to think about individual goals for each platform. But if you have the time and resources to maintain a presence on multiple social media channels, creating goals for each platform will help you get the most out of them. Once you know those goals, you can work backwards to determine the content you’ll share.

For example, on Instagram, your goal might be increasing brand awareness and attracting new leads. To make your brand more discoverable, you’d post visually striking images and use multiple hashtags.

On the other hand, if you were using Twitter to increase brand awareness, you’d keep the number of hashtags low and focus on creating short, crisp copy to encourage engagement.

When you’re setting these goals, it makes sense to look at the demographics of users on each platform, as well as what type of content is allowed (and does well) on each platform.

To learn more, you can check out our dedicated guides for each network:

If you’d like to dive a little deeper, you might be interested in some of these articles from The Social Journal:

Reading analytics

It’s no surprise that marketers often struggle with finding the key performance indicators for social media marketing. Measuring social media ROI has been and continues to be one of the top challenges of SMM.

You’ll have so many questions when you start out. And when you’re spending time and energy on social media, you need to know if your efforts are translating into leads or customers.

You might ask yourself: 

  1. Who is interested in receiving information about my brand/product?
  2. What type of content is resonating with my audience?
  3. Which social channels are working best?

To help you answer all of these questions, you need to have a system in place that connects that data to the goals you’ve come up with. You can start by using the reporting tools in your social media manager of choice—we, of course, recommend Zoho Social.

Keep an eye on the details

It’s easy enough to view high-level metrics, like:

  • The likes you’ve gained or lost
  • The top 5 countries your followers are from
  • Audience demographics

Those basic statistics can help you see whether your brand is growing or not.

However, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the size of your current community. It’s also about your potential reach and growth. The size of your community is just a snapshot of your brand’s overall performance. What you really need are the insights you’ll gain by analyzing trends over time.

You may have new YouTube subscribers, or a thousand new Twitter followers that you can track, but not all of them will be interacting with you. How do you measure what percentage of your followers are showing a desire to engage with your content? And what type of content are they resonating best with?

Here are some places to start:

  • Compare the number of posts published with the number of people who engage with them over time
  • Look at engagement levels on your top performing posts
  • Analyze the number of times your posts have been viewed and the type of engagement received for the content you share—links, videos, images—that are working best

In time, you can measure and compare to see if you’re moving towards the goals that you defined. Are people really interested in what you’re putting out there? Are more and more people reaching out to you? If you notice a downward trend in engagement or follower count, you’ll know you need to modify your strategy.

Advertising, marketing, or both?

In this series, we’ve been focused on social media marketing—posting high-quality content on social media with the intention of driving organic traffic and sales. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention social media advertising and explain the difference between the two.

With social media advertising, you’re paying to show your post to people, rather than hoping that they see it because they follow you or because someone they know re-shared it. You can pay per click (PPC) or per impression (PPM). Social media ads might consist of video, text, images, or a combination of all three. They can be very effective, when well-executed… or they can burn through a lot of money, without much to show for it.

Social media ads are a whole other ballgame, and doing the topic justice would require more space than we have in this guide. In the meantime, if you’re looking for more resources, these posts from the Social Journal can help:

Measuring ROI from an influencer campaign

Depending on your industry and product, you may want to work with social media influencers to drive additional traffic, leads, and sales. Influencer campaigns exist at the cross-section of advertising and marketing. You’re paying for the campaign itself, but you won’t typically be paying per click or per impression. Depending on the influencer you’re working with, you may pay a campaign fee, a commission fee, or both.

The content for these campaigns is often co-created with the influencer (or, sometimes, left entirely up to the influencer). Regardless of who created it, the best influencer campaigns don’t feel like advertising. Instead, they feel like reading an enthusiastic post from someone you know, often mixing promotion with education.

Collecting accurate data

Influencer marketing can be very effective—but it can also be costly. It’s important to track the results as closely as possible so that you can accurately calculate your ROI. Here are a few ways you could do that:

  • Using UTM parameters to track where the traffic is coming from. You would provide the influencer with a set of links (giving different links for each social media platform, if you’re using more than one) and have them use only those links when they share information about your brand/product. (You can read more about UTM parameters here.)
  • Have the influencer direct their followers to a specific landing page (for example, www.zohosite.com/influencer1). You can look at the visitors to that page, and run reports on those visitors and their behavior to see how many later converted to leads and/or customers.
  • Give the influencer a discount code that their followers can use at checkout. You can fairly assume that most (if not all) customers who use the code got it from the influencer’s post.

The data you gain by using UTM parameters might not be exactly the same as the data you get by directing traffic to a particular landing page, but by using multiple methods of tracking, you should be able to have a very good idea of your actual ROI. This can be useful in cases where, for instance, the discount code meant for the influencer’s followers is shared elsewhere, artificially inflating the number of sales from the influencer.

Measure more and make your efforts pay off

Social media can be a powerful tool for your business—but only when backed by a data-based approach. As you start to create and implement your strategy, make sure to set yourself up for success by outlining clear goals and objectives, and tracking your progress toward them. Not only will this help you refine your strategy, but it will also give you strong evidence to point to that your efforts aren’t going to waste. Whether you’re a solopreneur or part of a larger team, having that concrete backing will add a lot to your confidence.

But what if the numbers you’re seeing aren’t pointing in the right direction? That’s ok too! Learn from your mistakes and adjust course accordingly. Maybe you’re not creating the kind of content that your followers are looking for. Maybe you could drive engagement with interactive polls or longer tweet threads. Maybe you need to invest in more video content.

No matter what direction you take, the first step is understanding what works and what doesn’t, and the right analytics can help you get the answers you’re looking for.

How to Market on Twitter
Managing Your Social Media Accounts
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