A lot of businesses are using social media today—about 94%, in fact. But are they using it well? And are they using it in the way that will benefit their company the most? Companies establish a profile on social media, and sometimes they even post regularly. But do they get any engagement? And if they do, what does it mean? How do you measure success on social media?

Sadly, many companies go into social media without first establishing goals and clear messaging. This makes it nearly impossible to measure success.

Being successful on social media requires a few items: 1) specific, measurable social media goals that tie into the company’s overall goals; 2) a target online audience; and 3) patience.

It’s easy to set a goal like “We want 500 Facebook followers,” but what does that actually do for your company? Does it contribute to your bottom line? Followers is an easy metric to focus in on, but don’t ignore some other (possibly more valuable) metrics.

Sure, you want followers because that will help your brand have better reach—but you also need to look some other social media analytics:

  1. Competitors—how do they measure up in terms of followers, engagement, and influence in the digital sphere?
  2. Engagement—how much amplification (shares, retweets), conversation (comments, messages, mentions), and applause (likes, favorites) are you getting on both individual social media platforms and as a whole? Evaluate this not just in terms of hard numbers but also in terms of each post to total engagement.
  3. Influence—how often is your brand being mentioned by others online and in the industry? What percentage of total industry mentions refers to your brand?
  4. Social Referrals—how much traffic is your social media sending to the website? Which content has been the most successful in bringing customers to the site?

One of the biggest problems we’ve seen businesses run into is a lack of patience and dedication. They view social media like a huge stage, where they are given a megaphone and can just force everyone to stop what they’re doing and take notice of how great they are.

But this doesn’t happen in reality. When businesses just shout about how great they are without providing value to the customer, everyone stops listening. Sometimes a brand simply has to give it time, to be a bit cliché–but it’s true. Once you have set realistic goals and figured out what to measure, it’s time to sit back and watch the results. Give the data time to propogate and then make incremental changes as needed.

Businesses need to take the time to set realistic goals, track social media analytics, develop community, provide value to customers, create partnerships, engage with users, and craft quality content. If companies don’t invest the time, money, and effort…then they won’t ever rise to the top.

Much of this article was crafted using the following infographic from GoodData–so be sure to give it a gander and check their site out for a ton of other great information:

social media analytics infographic

Social media: It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Image: Good Data