Social media marketing is all about relationship marketing. Audience size is good, of course, but even more important is how the your audience responds to you, how it interacts with your brand. This information is part of determining the health of your community. If you have a large online audience, say 100,000 people, what good is that by itself? When 100,000 people visit a concert or a baseball game, they pay an admission fee to get in so large numbers are good. But with a social media community nobody pays a fee to get in, so having thousands of visitors doesn’t mean much. You need them to take come sort of action; buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter or join your pay site.
This type of information hinges upon having a good Call To Action. Once your visitors get in the door you need to guide them, direct them to your call to action. How many people react to this call is a good sign of the health of your online community. Do your visitors click the link you offer? Do they click “Like” when they visit your fan page? Are they interacting with your site or just passing through?
There are a variety of methods you can use to dig deep into the analytics of your social media community. Some require a lengthy algorythym to analyze traffic going in and out of your online community, tracking what they are clicking on and how they are interacting. A simpler way for you to do this is by monitoring your social media network and seeing for yourself. Do they follow your calls to action? Do they click “Like” on your comments? Do your comments get shared? Do your Tweets get Re-Tweeted? These are all questions your social media manager can answer for you, and questions you should be able to answer for yourself with available data at your fingertips.
Conventional wisdom tells us Community Owners should rely on two key metrics to track the success of an online community: Membership (number of registered users) and participation (number of active users in a given time period). That’s well and good but what about measuring the health of the community, not just its size?
Back in 2010, our team at the University of Phoenix created PhoenixConnect, one of the largest academically-focused communities in the world with over half a million registered members, 40% of which are active participants every month. Moreover, students and faculty members who participate in the community spend an incredible 25% more time-on-site than other their peers who are not. This additional time-on-site is incremental, meaning that it does not cannibalize time spent in the classroom. As satisfied as we were with these numbers and their impact on our student’s engagement, we realized early on that we were only measuring the impact of the community on overall student behavior but not the behavior inside the community itself. The first step towards closing this gap was understanding who were these different types of users and what key indicators should we use to track their behavior within the community?
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