Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Monitoring Social Media Strategy

I'm developing a social media strategy for our Extension team.  I've been making presentations on this topic over the past few months, and am finally putting in practice what I've been telling others.  Of course, I've been thinking about what our strategy might look like this whole time, but I'm finally writing those thoughts down and clarifying our team's social media goals and objectives.

Part of this process involves thinking about how I, or someone else, will monitor and measure the success of the strategy.  It's important to me to ensure that we're effectively engaging our audience on all of the social media tools that we use and providing them with value, of some sort, in return for following us.  For each tool (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blog, etc.) there's at least one related tool that allows you to analyze and measure in impact of your activities.

To share an example, I recently spent some time reviewing the information I can collect and follow through Facebook Insights.  Beyond seeing how many people "like" our Ag Entrepreneurship Extension Team page and some basic demographic information (gender, age range, and geographic location), I can see which posts had the most "engaged users" (i.e. unique people who clicked on the post) or the most people "talking about this."  Insights provides more than just this overall number.  I can click on the "talking about this" number for any post and see exactly how many people took different specific actions (i.e. liking, commenting, or sharing a post, answering a question, or responding to an event).

What's the value of this?  First, I'll be able to track which posts generate the most engagement with our followers.  More importantly, since the different types of actions people take may indicate different levels of content value, I'll have a sense of which types of posts (or post content) people may value more highly and are thus motivated into taking those different actions.  For instance, I'll know which posts people are driven to comment on, one indicator of value, perhaps leading our team to post more on those topics.  Alternatively, I'll be able to see which posts, or content types, people appear to be less interested in.  As time passes, our team will be able to use this information to adjust our social media strategy to most effectively meet the needs of our social media audience(s).

Monitoring the impact, or effectiveness, of your social media activities is essential if you have business or organizational goals that you're trying to achieve with its use.  Take the time to learn about the different analytical tools available to you and decide what information you'll need to measure your social media success.  Once you're able to start identifying how you best connect with your audience that also moves you toward your goals, you'll feel less like you're running on the social media hamster wheel and instead running a race with the finish line in sight.

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