If youâ€™re participating in social media, youâ€™re going to want to know how itâ€™s working. But before you even begin to measure your success, you need to know what youâ€™re measuring it against. Define concrete goals for your efforts. Those might be to increase your web-site traffic by a certain amount each month, to increase conversion values, or some other goal. Whatever those goals are, use them as a guide as youâ€™re planning your social-media optimization efforts.
Once youâ€™ve decided what you want from social-media optimization, you can measure the results that youâ€™re gaining from your efforts. The most obvious indicator is web-site traffic. If your traffic begins to climb, itâ€™s a pretty good bet that your social-media efforts are working.
But if you donâ€™t want to rely solely on site traffic as in indication of your success, there are several other elements you can look to in the effort to determine how successful your social-media optimization efforts are.
You should first have a blog, and then track who is reading it. There are many good web analytics packages that will track what the most popular content on your site is. You can probably also see where those site visitors are coming from and how long theyâ€™re spending on your page. This information will help you determine what blog entries are most successful and who is sending the most traffic to your blog, so that you can capitalize on that.
Next, you can monitor the number of visitors who are actually interacting with your content by checking your guest book, forums, or comment capabilities. Guest books arenâ€™t nearly as popular as they once were, but if youâ€™re participating in a social network and you donâ€™t have forums or comment capabilities on your blog, youâ€™re missing a large part of the value of social media.
Also pay attention to how often youâ€™re added to social booking sites. Sites like del.icio.us and StumbledUpon are a couple of the social bookmarking sites that can help boost your site traffic. The easiest way to monitor your site in social bookmarking networks is to create an account with them and then use the account to search for your URLs. In other words, who is actually adding your site/article/blog posts to sites.
Measure how many readers are actually subscribing to your RSS feeds. The number of subscribers you have on your RSS feeds will be a good indicator of how well youâ€™re doing in your SMO efforts. The more subscribers you have, the more popular your site is.
Another way to measure your success with social bookmarking is to watch who is linking to you. If you have a good analytics program, it will probably provide you with a report that shows where incoming links originated. If your analytics program doesnâ€™t provide this information, you can figure out whoâ€™s linking to you using that old standby, a web search. To find out who is linking to your site use the following search string, replacing yourwebsite with the actual URL of the pages you want to track: link:http://www.yourwebsite.com.
One last way to monitor your success in the social-media space is to monitor how many people are connected to you. In MySpace and FaceBook, that might mean how many friends you have. In LinkedIn, it would be how many colleagues you are connected to, and on Digg the measurement youâ€™re looking for is the number of times your content is tagged.
All of these are indications that youâ€™re being followed by someone. And the more people with whom you can build a relationship, obviously the better your success will be. And thatâ€™s probably the most important rule of all to remember about social-media networking and social-media optimization: build the relationship first and the rest falls into place.