How To Benchmark Social Media Vs. SEO Success

Many search marketing industry analysts are saying that social media is quickly becoming the new SEO.  Note that we used the word ‘analysts,’ and not ‘experts.’  The reason for this is that anyone who really knows what they’re talking about when it comes to SEO understands that social media is not the new search.  However, both of these aspects of online marketing are coming together quickly, and the lines between them are more blurred than ever.

As the latest Google Penguin update takes effect, focusing on social media is becoming ever more important for business website owners, as well as for webmasters and professional SEO services companies.

While most people are aware of the platforms they can use, such as Google Webmaster Tools,  to oversee general SEO and website performance, many are unaware of how they can track success, and measure return on investment (ROI), from social media.  In some cases, a lack of understanding around how to measure success prevents some businesses from committing fully to a social campaign.  Thankfully, gauging the success of a social media campaign is actually very easy to do.

Some of the techniques you should use include tools that you are probably already familiar with, such as Google Analytics, and some don’t actually require any tools at all!

Analytics or Webmaster Tools

Analytics or Webmaster Tools

Image courtesy of Bay Area Search Engine Academy.

Analyzing where your traffic is coming from is probably something you do on a regular basis.  In addition to reviewing your keyword impressions and click through rates, you can simply view the traffic that is coming from your social media pages.  Although your social media activities might have a positive impact on your overall online marketing campaign, thanks to quality user-generated content and an increased number of trusted links, this is about discovering the value of your content as a standalone entity.

If you have employees who perform your social media activities, how many customers are they bringing in to justify their salary?  Ask the same question for anyone to whom you have outsourced work.

Social Media: Bringing in the Crowds

Over time, you might find that your social media presence is driving dozens (we’re being conservative, obviously we want more) of additional leads to your site every day.  So, this tells us that your social campaign is working, right?

Not quite, for what you really want to be looking at is how much time people are spending on your site, and at whether your site is converting these browsers into buyers.  You’ve probably read about how targeting irrelevant keywords for SEO can get you highly ranked, but achieve very little in the way of click-throughs and conversions; and social media is the same.

The devil of the detail here is the content you post.  Yes, you want people to click the link and visit your site, but remember it is better to engage 20 relevant visitors a day rather than 100 irrelevant ones who simply bounce off your pages and never come back.  Write content that appeals to your target audience rather than to the largest number of people.

Analyze the Numbers: Is it Worth It?

Some analysts believe that looking at things such as follower numbers and how many social shares you have is irrelevant, because it is not something you can control.  In reality, that is what individuals and businesses say when they don’t want to take responsibility for boring and uninspiring social media output.

The ultimate responsibility for growing followers, friends, likes, pins, and any other sharing term, comes down to you.  One positive approach to take is to review your social accounts immediately after launching promotions or giveaways.  Initiatives such as “The Next 1000 Followers will be Entered into a Prize Draw,” for example, are great ways to pique interest and help you build your following.  Your biggest task is to keep your new followers engaged, so they don’t just bounce away at the end of the promotion.

One good way to benchmark is to say you want to achieve a certain number of followers for each hour spent on social media.

Be Realistic With Time

Before you give up on social media after a week, you need to look at the bigger picture.  You aren’t going to join a social network and be an instant success.  Have a plan; consider that, as you spend more time on social media, the followers you accumulate on a regular basis will increase as your name and reputation spreads.

Your benchmark might look something like this:

In this graph, our hypothetical business gains 10 follows in month one, at which point it would be easy to say, ‘this is pointless,’ and give up.  By continuing and being positive with social media, they were earning 100 new followers/likes per month by the end of their first year of social marketing, and had in excess of 600 followers in total.

You might choose to benchmark higher or lower than that example.  In reality, it doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you’re realistic and prepared for social success, much like SEO, to come over a period of months and years, rather than days and weeks.

Social Reporting

How often you analyze the numbers, both in terms of followers, shares, and conversions, is up to you.  However, it is probably best to go for the ‘bigger picture’ approach and look at reports over the course of a month, rather than obsessing with how you’re doing on a day-to-day basis; you do have a business to run, remember!

If you’re looking to focus on your general business activities, then there are a number of digital marketing companies, such as Bough SEO, that offer a number of tools to help with benchmarking social media and SEO success.  SEO companies will also be able to give advice and offer services in these fields should you be struggling to see positive results from your activities.

Benchmarking Social

Try not to fall into the trap of feeling like social marketing and SEO is a case of ‘one or the other.’  Yes, we have used the term ‘versus,’ but we hope that would help you to realize that such an approach is counterproductive.  Social is not going to replace SEO, but it will become an even bigger factor in where your site ranks.  Nor is it enough to see social as SEO, as ultimately your activities will prove unfruitful.

Benchmark your social activities alongside your SEO, it is easy to do and can form part of your overall marketing plan.  You should look at where more of your traffic and conversions are coming from, and adapt your strategy accordingly, but never treat them as separate entities.

Robert is an internet marketing expert who is currently specializing in social media marketing trends. Robert advises a wide range of clients on the best ways to benchmark their social media activities, as well as helping them to develop high quality content strategies to ensure they engage as many followers as possible and convert these leads into sales.

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