This is a question that arises time and again when I’m out and about speaking to business owners and marketers in the South West of England. I normally produce anecdotal evidence, such as:
- In the last 6 months, Noisy Little Monkey has won new business via our Twitter activity - the new clients phoned up and actually quoted a recent tweet as their reason for wanting to work with us.
- Our newest SEO analyst (@MattyWeeks) saw our tweet about hiring more people and tweeted a link to his CV.
- People come to our events citing that they’d seen them on our Facebook page.
Good stuff, but is it purely down to our good messaging on social platforms? No, but social media is an essential ingredient in the mix (for us, at least).
Attribution is difficult!
The old adage that you waste 80% of your marketing budget but you can’t tell which 20% works more or less applies to social media and search marketing. I know, I know Google Analytics can tell you which keywords became a sale / enquiry, which referring site (or tweeted link) drove a visitor who turned into a customer, but crediting that single click with the sale is short-sighted. Or blinkered. It’s just not that simple... Maybe before they clicked on your advert / searched on Google the visitor had
- Seen your banner ad on their favourite news site?
- Heard a friend talk about the great service she’d received from you?
- Heard your radio advert?
- Seen your competitors dissed on Twitter?
Each of these may impact on how ready the visitor is to visit your website and convert, but how much of an impact? You don’t know and neither (as yet) does Google Analytics.
So what is the point?
What we do know is that brands (even small ones that you’ve never heard of) that engage actively on social media, sharing useful tips, how-to videos, insider information and other unique content that is of interest to their target audience get their message in front of more people. This brand awareness type stuff keeps you in the mix while the customer is investigating suppliers.
When brands really get their message right, the shares and likes of their marketing can go almost viral. Check out Blendtec’s “Will It Blend” campaign… They really got this right and boom! Lots of visitors, lots of awareness.
Google and Bing both measure shares and sentiment to indicate which are the most trustworthy sources of information. This means that if there’s positive sentiment about your brand and your key staff members are sharing useful resources, Google and Bing are far more likely to rank your website more highly when someone searches.
Can you measure success?
If you or your business has just started to use social media then there are some good indicators of success:
Using Google Analytics – check to see the growth in visits to your site from social media
Search for your brand name on Google – are your Twitter / Facebook pages showing in the results? If so, it’s a good indicator that Google trusts the people who follow / like you.
Other than that, the way we measure success at Noisy Little Monkey is different for all of our clients, maybe it’s getting occasional messages shared by influential people, maybe it’s getting invited to write for blogs or trade press, maybe it’s lots of shares by less influential people, sometimes it’s sales. It’s different for everyone but there’s some really clever people out there with some useful tips.
Rand Fishkin is the founder of SEOmoz, a maker of tools for the digital marketing industry. He shared some great info in this post on the KPI's of effective social media.
Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent, an internet marketing company that pre-dates Google. Ian’s blog is a good place to start to get your head around attribution
of the clicks that make visitors buy.
And of course, the team at Noisy Little Monkey can help if you just need to talk to someone about making it work for your business.