By now, nearly all small businesses recognize the critical importance of social media. Customers are using social tools to communicate, shop, research and discover. As entrepreneurs accept this fact, they're shifting their businesses to embrace the new social paradigm.
The question now becomes how to measure its effectiveness and apply that data to your business decisions. To try and answer this question, Booz Media conducted an in-depth study with Buddy Media on social media's impact on marketing. Its primary finding is that that most businesses are not utilizing tools and services properly.
Content, Engagement and Analytics
Chris Vollmer, a partner and leader of Booz and Company's global media and entertainment practice, says businesses large and small are learning content development, community management and real-time analytics on the three major social platforms: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. When used properly, they provide a major opportunity to generate business value by building powerful, lasting relationships with consumers through digital communities.
The report came up with four categories to describe the level of expertise your company may have achieved: Reach, Engagement, Advocacy, and Return on Investment. The levels range from simply counting how many Likes or re-tweets your content is getting, all the way up actually making sales from social media. The report found that most small businesses are either still on Level 1 or stuck between Levels 2 and 3.
Here's a basic description of each level to measure your business's social media effort against.
Level 1: Reach
The first step for any business is to understand the social scale of its brand. Do you know how many fans, followers, subscribers, visitors and views your company has, and how many discussions are taking place? Do you have visibility into where, when and in what context your brand is being discussed? If so, congratulations, you're at Level 1.
Level 2: Engagement
You have moved beyond just counting your fans. You have insight into the activities in their various communities. You have analyzed what drives them to participate on your page and amplify your brand. You've studies the patterns in comments, Likes, shares and take rates. Does this describe you? If so, you're a graduate of Level 2.
Level 3: Advocacy
Savvy companies know how to spot and drum up the kind of social activity that creates brand loyalty. Are you tracking your fans' referral and reshare activity, comments and followers per user, considerations and preferences? Yes? Then you've got Level 3 social media analytics.
Level 4: Return on Investment
The black belts of social media marketing use analytics to achieve concrete business goals. If you're at this point, you're in rare company. Booz found that only about 40 percent of companies have metrics in place today to measure key performance indicators such as purchase intent, leads generated and conversion rates (or actual sales).
Keep in mind that content is still king. In order for your small business to really benefit and climb to higher levels, you must give customers something in with to engage. Booz's Karen Premo sums up this idea in the report by saying, "It doesn't always work to just have your ads up—that's not something people really want to talk about or forward to friends."
What level is your company on, and what are you doing to move forward? Discuss in the comments below.
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