This week on ReadWriteBiz, we're running down our list of recommended New Year's resolutions for small and medium-sized businesses. Today we talk about how to better allocate scarce resources to build a more effective social media strategy in 2001.
Social media has exploded over the last few years and as 2010 comes to a close, you should now have enough data handy to help you determine what's working and what isn't. Sure, everybody was freaking out about Twitter this year, and you jumped on that bandwagon, but is it paying off? If a particular social media tool isn't helping your business grow, now is a good time to either ramp up your efforts or cut it off and focus those meager resources elsewhere.
Take a Close Look at Whatever Analytics You Have
To best answer the Twitter question above, you'll need analytics of some kind. You may have some fairly rich data available depending on what tools you're using. We're still anxiously awaiting the complete roll-out of Twitter's own free analytics tool, but in the meantime, third party apps like HootSuite offer pretty detailed insights into how many clicks each tweeted link gets and will readily display your account's retweets and mentions. Since it also supports Facebook, Foursquare, MySpace, and LinkedIn, HootSuite is probably the best all-in-one product for managing and analyzing social media campaigns for small businesses. Plus you can't beat the price.
If you don't already have something like HootSuite tracking your campaigns, but you've otherwise been shortening your URL's, you can at least use the analytics in your Bit.ly account to see which tweets and updates got the most clicks in 2010.
The referral sources in your Web analytics (Google or otherwise) dashboard should show you how services like Twitter and Facebook are helping to drive traffic back to your site. To take things a step further, are you able to determine how many of those visitors from social media sites actually made a purchase or signed up for your newsletter? If not, you might want to start experimenting with goals and funnels in 2011.
If you're using Facebook in any capacity (hopefully your company has a page, not a profile) check out the past year's data in Facebook Insights. If you extend the date range to include the whole year, what does the trend line for metrics like "Daily Active Users" look like? Does it go up? Down? How about weekly or monthly active users? Did that big social marketing campaign in March pay off?
Facebook Insights also breaks down all of your status updates and tells you how many people saw each one, as well as how many clicked or commented on it. If you sort the list of posts by their "Feedback" percentage scores, you can get a clear picture of what type of posts worked best and thus where to focus your energies moving forward.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
It's tempting to look at social media as a race to acquire the most followers or friends. While this is important, it's not as crucial as the quality of those relationships you form. You can gain 10,000 Facebook fans, but how valuable is that if you're not engaging them and converting some of them to paying customers?
Instead of obsessing over the number of social connections your business makes online this year, pay attention to metrics like your Klout score on Twitter and Daily New Likes on Facebook. No matter how high your Klout score is, actively try to increase it by engaging with others more on Twitter and following Klout's other recommendations. Even data as simple as a list of all of your retweeted tweets from this year is worth sitting down with. Chances are, you can find some patterns worth emulating more in 2011.
Try Out Some New Tools
If you're still using Twitter.com and Facebook.com to schedule posts, give HootSuite or TweetDeck a try. Do you do any email marketing? Take a look at services like Flowtown to gain social insights into your subscribers.
As social media continues to pretty much take over the world, there will undoubtedly be a slew of new innovations, products and services in the social space next year. Keep an eye here on ReadWriteBiz (RSS feed) and in the main ReadWriteWeb channel to stay on top of it all.