It’s hard to justify the time spent on social media account management. But there are ways to measure the real value (monetary or otherwise) of fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter. These top two social media websites offer free advertising, an open customer service and communication platform and a demographics database all wrapped up in one, so knowing the value of fans and followers can be a big help when deciding how much time should be allotted to social media efforts. Here are some of the ways to measure how much Facebook and Twitter users are really worth.
Number of quality fans
Many beginning social media marketers believe that the total number of followers or fans is what matters when it comes to having a great presence online, but that simply isn’t the case. Websites that offer programs to garner “1000 followers in 24 hours” or the like absolutely cannot guarantee that these followers are actual real people who are interested in your product and what you have to say. Buying followers is like running a search engine campaign with few or irrelevant keywords—your message is not targeted to the correct demographic. Think of gaining quality followers and fans as building up organic search engine rankings.
Remember, getting a high-quality audience goes both ways. Do not follow someone on Twitter solely because they have followed you. This is how many spammers gain followers so they can litter twitter feeds with their own links. When a person becomes a follower, visit his or her account to see if they are in the same industry or would be interested in your products or services. If either of these is true, follow them back. This is the same for a person that becomes a fan of your page on Facebook—add them as a friend if they are an industry colleague or potential customer (if you have a company profile). Periodically updating and evaluating fans and followers is a great way to measure the value of Twitter and Facebook accounts. High quality accounts will have followers that are specifically targeted to their product or service—this makes the social media relationship mutually beneficial.
Advertising & promotion value
In terms of actual monetary value, fans and followers can be measured and analyzed from two different angles: from a CPM standpoint and from a website analytics point of view.
CPM value. When users become a fan of someone/something on Facebook and Twitter, that action is front page news on their friends’ front pages, as well as appearing on the right side column under “Suggestions” while they are surfing around Facebook. Because most people are friends with others who are in their demographic or share similar interests, they are much more likely to also become a fan (or visit the page). Therefore, it’s easy to think of Facebook fans as “free” CPM campaigns. Adam Goldberg does a great job of explaining this in his article entitled What Is The Value Of A Facebook Fan? by comparing Lamborghini’s fan base against Toyota’s. By estimating CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) and average number of friends a fan may have, you can get a reasonable estimate of what it would have cost to run an actual online ad campaign of the same reach.
As for Twitter, it’s a little more difficult to have the same level of natural impressions that occur on Facebook. Including hashtags (#keyword) makes it easy for those searching for that keyword to find your tweet. Additionally, the phrase “please retweet” is a call-to-action that can help spread your tweet quickly.
To track how many visitors viewed a website from Twitter or Facebook, use Google Analytics or free URL shortening services like bit.ly and cli.gs that include analytics within user accounts. High levels of spam or inactive accounts make Twitter impression value harder to calculate. Mashable’s Pete Cashmore reported that 24% of all tweets are from automated bots, whereas 5% of all Twitter accounts create 75% of all tweets, meaning most Twitter accounts are inactive or have little significance.
Measuring conversions with goals and funnels. Besides tracking traffic and visitor sources with Google Analytics, its goals and funnels feature can also be used to track the actual monetary value that social media sites have brought to an e-commerce website or as a generated lead. Google’s definitions of goals and funnels:
Goals. A goal is a website page that serve as conversions for your site (with some extra code, they can even be file downloads or on-page actions). Some examples of good conversion goals are:
- A “thank you” page after a user has submitted information through a form. This can track newsletter signups, email list subscriptions, job application forms, or contact forms.
- A purchase confirmation page or receipt page
- An “About us” page
- A particular news article
Funnels. A funnel represents the path that you expect visitors to take on their way to converting to the goal. Defining these pages allows you to see how frequently visitors abandon goals, and where they go. For example, funnels in an e-commerce goal may include the first page of your checkout process, then the shipping address info page, and finally the credit card information page. The only report that shows the funnel path is the Funnel Visualization report.
Google Analytics Help offers a short tutorial on setting up goals and funnels, including a case study of how the Chicago music festival Lollapalooza Tracked Social Media Campaigns with Google Analytics.
Finally, for measuring offline reach (e.g. if a customer comes into a company’s bricks and mortar store), asking customers how they were referred is a good way to see if Facebook or Twitter influenced their decision.
Direct communication. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow organizations and websites to have a direct line of open communication between themselves and their customers or users. This is also a great way to build up a free, but closely-targeted, demographic database or sample group. Asking for feedback on new policies, products or website layouts via Twitter and Facebook is a great way to get free feedback from people invested in what you have to say and offer. Additionally, answering customer questions and comments through Twitter or Facebook is a great way to both communicate individually with customers while also sharing those answers in a public forum for others who may have had the same question or comment, especially if it is negative or causing dissatisfaction.
While social media sites will (almost) surely never replace customer service phone lines, they are an affordable companion and occasional alternative. What’s most important in social media is ensuring that a company continues to show appreciation and respect for their fans and followers—whether they are customers, industry colleagues or potential leads by supplying high-quality information and service.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.