A lot of people interested in social media are not big fans of math or numbers. Not all, but I assume this is the case (baseless assumption, woo). However, I understand why numbers are so important to social media. A lot of social media in business is “why”? Why pay an employee to spend time on websites that any other employee would be discouraged from using in the workplace? They do it because it can give actual boosts to their companies, and reach different audiences than normal advertising.
This data is gathered through social media analytics. In chapter 14 and 15 of the Social Media ROI book by Olivier Blanchard, he goes into what companies measure, and why they do it. This is often the part of social media jobs that people like to forget, social media manager is supposed to be a fluff job, I have to deal with numbers as well? Sadly yes. There are so many things to measure with numbers, as shown on page 198 and 199 of Blanchard. The chapter later goes on to say that a company should focus on measurements they think are important, as measuring everything would be tiring and not very fruitful. Chapter 15 lists some of the financial and non-financial outcomes of social media use (211).
Numbers don’t have to be misery inducing though. Nay, on the contrary, numbers are a visual display of success, a numerical delight. Each new follower gained, video watched, or post clicked is a guide. This post with a happy dog got 500% more views than our annual hoedown fundraiser? Time to bring in the pups! A lot of people unfollowed after your last political rant? Maybe keep those thoughts to your diary. Analyzing each post can be rewarding and help you (the social media Padawan) become a social media professional (or to continue the Star Wars metaphor, a true social media Jedi).
Once you have a lot of numbers, from a lot of different places, you can put them all together. For our case maybe make a timeline with Twitter likes and followers, Instagram likes and followers, and interest in our Facebook event. This could be used to determine if any particular Twitter or Instagram posts success made a noticeable improvement to our guest list (our primary goal for our social media accounts is to get people to go to our Social Media Symposium. The book says to look for patterns (233). These patterns can give you a wider visual of which parts of the social media strategy are working and which need improvement.
Numbers help us put the feelings of “I think I’m doing well” or “I need to improve” into more concrete terms. A lot of social media is about how it resonates with people, and how posts make people feel, but these cannot be as easily measured as something like followers or likes, so those really help determine the successfulness of a social media campaign, and whether social media is worth investing in or not. With how many companies use social media regularly, something must be working right. Because if it wasn’t working at all, we wouldn’t be in this class.
Blanchard, Olivier. Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. Indianapolis, IN: Que, 2011. Print.