IMPACT, What We Are Not Measuring in Social

The buzzword on everyones lips these days seems to be ‘Social’. No matter where we go or who we talk to, we are encouraged to be ‘Social’ and if we’re not being ‘Social’ then we are an outsider, to be scorned and taunted, a little like being back at school!

Social is great and to be involved in Social most people think about analysing the number of fans they have on Facebook, or the number of followers they have on Twitter etc, and they like to measure the level of engagement they have with these individuals by the ‘reach’ of their posts, and the ‘engagement’ with people from these online conversations.

This is all well and good, but let me pose a small question with regards the companies that use Social. Why? Why do you use Social Media? What’s in it for you? Why all the effort?

My answer to this would be that the main aim of using Social will be one of two areas. The first will be to build brand awareness, and this is certainly done by engaging with our followers and fans and getting people talking about us in many different ways. The second, however, is the one that for some reason seems to be overlooked in a number of cases, and that is, to drive people to our website, or stores, and get people to buy our goods or services.

Yes, I mentioned websites there!

Social analysis should be looked at in a number of ways, and the way that frequently gets overlooked and ignored is the final interaction with the website.

Okay, so most people probably run a series of reports and analytics that allow them to see how many visitors have come to their website from the various different Social Networks, and some of the more aware companies may even add tracking codes so that they can see just how many people are coming from specific links, but there is a lot of information out there that companies are missing simply because they are unaware of what is available.

So we can see how many people come to our website through Social, and we can track our own links from Social to our website, but how about tracking to see which of our followers or fans are the most influential? Which of our followers or fans are creating their own links which are driving people to our site and progressing sales?

The main social networks all have API’s which we can utilise to identify links. When you create a link in Twitter, that link contains a unique reference to the creator of it, and that reference remains with the link no matter how many times it is copied or retweeted. On this basis we can then use the Twitter API to run a reverse lookup and identify the username that was linked with the link creation. This way no matter who retweets or comes in from the link, we can identify the link creator and specify that that person has had a major influence in driving people to our site. We can then link that through to sales and utilise this as an additional identifier against our usual marketing campaigns.

If we look at YouTube and Tumblr, we can do the same thing and see who is driving sales to our site, that we have no direct control over. We’re going to come back to Tumblr again in a short while as there is even more potential that we have there.

If we look at our website, we may well find that we have links here to allow users to share our content on the social networks. We can see how many shares there are by looking at the page, but we can again capture the information directly at each share, and then analyse our most popular shares to help optimise our site further. If we are clever and include a form of tracking on each share, we can then do a ’round’ track to see how many people come back to our site from the individual shares.

Now, back to Tumblr for a moment. Tumblr seems to be growing in popularity as a way of being able to share blogs, images and all sorts of other information quickly and easily. It has a rather nice interface that makes it easy to personalise and customise colour schemes and other areas of information, and even a link to allow us to access the HTML code.


Hang on.

Back up.

Access the HTML code??

Hmmm, so if we can access the HTML code, then what is to stop us from placing our actual web analytics tracking code directly onto the pages? Nothing! If we place code directly here, what we are effectively doing is stopping this page from being an external, stand alone, social network page, and incorporating it as part of our overall web strategy. If we place code directly on the page we can start tracking movement from Tumblr to our standard site and back again as if Tumblr was just another section on our website.

There is a whole area of additional information that is available here if people would just stop, and take a minute to think about it. Social should have an end result, and that end result should be to drive sales. Unless we consider how we can measure that from our final website point of view, we can’t get a full understanding of the ‘IMPACT’ of our Social strategy. And ‘IMPACT’ should surely be what we are after the most.


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