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January 26, 2011
Start Small: Define Your Goals for Social Media
 
What is it exactly that you want to see from your social media efforts? Are you engaging your target audience to get brand awareness? Do you want to drive more traffic to your blog and website? Do you want to conduct a contest? The first step for any marketing tactic is to have a plan with goals. You don’t go into a PPC campaign blindly, so you don’t want to do the same with social media.

According to a late 2010 survey by Econsultancy, sponsored by digital marketing agency bigmouthmedia, half of the worldwide companies participating could not determine the value of or goals for their social media sites. Write up a clear plan on exactly what you want to see happen with your social media strategy, and from there you can figure out how you are going to measure your efforts.

Budget Your Time
Unless you work for a gigantic firm with plenty of money to throw around, you likely don’t have a social media department. This means that social media responsibilities fall under “other duties as assigned” for you or someone on your team. Many businesses set up a Twitter account or Facebook page and then ignore their profiles. You have to commit to these profiles and spend time on them just like you would for any other marketing tactic. When you are writing up your marketing plan, decide how many hours (even if it is just an hour a day) you will be dedicating to social media.

Conversion Rates
Just like with any other online marketing tactic, you need to set a benchmark. Start tracking your website traffic from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube wherever you are present. Set up specific landing pages if you have to. The more you can see a straight conversion rate from your efforts, the more you can start tying in a revenue stream from the traffic brought in from these sites.

If you are conducting a contest, a new landing page is your best option. You will be able to see exactly how and when your target audience is paying attention to your stream, which allows you to figure out when the best time is to post new information.

Links
If you are paying a writer (or taking time from your day) to write content to bookmark, track that time as social media time. If you are getting quality backlinks from the copy you are writing, and in turn submitting it to social bookmarking sites, then that can be tied into SEO revenue. Social media can be a great way to obtain more links to your site and get brand exposure—you just have to start tracking your efforts.

Although the links that are submitted to social sites are nofollwed, it doesn’t mean that reporters, bloggers, or other companies won’t find the article and use it for their site—and then the article could be followed. Monitoring your company online is a must, whether you have a social media presence or not.

Contact Forms
If you already ask your customers how they heard about your company, add the option for them to select Twitter and other social media sites from your dropdown or checkbox. This will give you an idea of the brand exposure and actual sales you are making because of these sites.

Jeffery Cohen writes on Social Media B2B that
, “The total cost divided by the number of leads, or other number that represents conversions, is the cost per lead. As these leads go into the normal sales funnel, and get qualified, you will see the return on your social media investment.”

The main point for marketers is that social media may or may not be a viable option for your company, but you have to set benchmarks and measure your success. There is no guarantee that Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube will be the right fit for your company, but you will never know until you try. Start out small and see if you get any followers and traffic from these sites. You don’t have to throw a lot of money at a “social media guru” before you know if these venues will work.

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Shannon Suetos writes extensively for Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs. She lives in San Diego, California.
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