Three Analytics Tools to Maximize Social Media ROI

Source: The Boldt Family via http://boldt.usBy Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Executive Optimist, Digital Book World

We must also discontinue our collective ignorance of analytics, numbers, sales analysis, digital P&Ls, and ROI. It’s time for the marketing team to integrate numbers into our creative campaigns. We have to watch these things like hawks and take advantage of the nimble nature of online campaigning to make the user-experience as simple and streamlined as possible at all times.

“Publishing + BDSM: Finding a safeword”, Brett Sandusky

Few would argue that publishers (and authors) need to add social media tools into their marketing mix and engage directly with readers, but beyond the generic advice most social media gurus offer — “Get on Twitter!” “Get on Facebook!” — there’s very little discussion about how to effectively use them, or how to measure the return on investment (ROI).

Ask anyone who is actively engaged in social media if it’s worth the effort, personally and/or professionally, and you will likely find yourself in a healthy debate over whether it’s a time-suck or an investment. The honest answer is that it’s both, but without a focus on analytics to measure its impact and make necessary adjustments, it can quickly become a worthless investment of your time.

Whether your goals are more followers/fans, more brand awareness, or more sales, there are some basic analytics tools every digital marketer should be using to measure their efforts. Here are the three that should be part of everyone’s toolbox:

1) Google Analytics: While it’s important to engage wherever your community is, you also need to maintain your own web site, and Google Analytics is one of the best free analytics tools available. They offer numerous resources to enable you to get the most out of it, and setting up “advanced segments” to filter traffic from Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc., is a critical first step to effectively measuring the effect of your social media initiatives.

2) Twitter Search + Google Reader: Don’t believe the hype; real-time search won’t be replacing Google or the New York Times (though it’s a legitimate competitor to the Huffington Post), but it’s an invaluable component to the most important aspect of social media: the ability to listen. Even if you’re not ready to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, you can set up a listening post by subscribing to the RSS feeds of specific search terms on Twitter, and tracking them in Google Reader. At a minimum, you should create feeds for your brand/author name(s), Twitter handle, book(s) and relevant topics based on keywords and phrases according to your SEO/SEM strategy. And, of course, these same search terms should be tracked via Google Alerts which can also be fed into Google Reader.

Bit.ly Info Page3) Bit.ly: Twitter offers a great opportunity to engage directly with readers, but there’s more to it than just amassing followers. Real engagement means interacting with them and sharing information of interest, whether it’s your own content or someone else’s, but you want to be able to measure that engagement, too. Using Bit.ly as your URL shortener not only allows to you measure the popularity of the links you tweet, it also shows you the total number of clicks via the aggregated bit.ly link, which combines all bit.ly links for a single URL into one report. The info page also aggregates tweets so you can see who else was passing your link around.

Depending on your goals, strategy and tactics, there are a variety of other tools you can use to measure and tweak your social media initiatives, but these three are the basic must-haves for any serious effort to get off the ground.

What other tools are you using?

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez is the Chief Executive Optimist for Digital Book World.

11 thoughts on “Three Analytics Tools to Maximize Social Media ROI

  1. Bradley Robb

    Man, this could be a really long list

    Bit.ly
    Google Analytics
    Compete
    Quantcast
    Alexa
    Feedburner
    Quirk’s SearchStatus Firefox plugin

    and a whole slew of other tools that get put through their paces as the need arises.

    Reply
    1. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Post author

      I purposefully limited it to three because I’ve seen a tendency to get caught up in the variety of available tools and the important step of analyzing the data never happens. You threw an unfamiliar one out there, though: Quirk’s SearchStatus Firefox plugin. Will have to check that one out, but what’s your take on it?

      Reply
      1. Bradley Robb

        I like it because it provides a quick overview of where a website “fits” in popularity – PR, Alexa, and Compete. Average the three out and you can ball park it. Plus, it sits in a typically unused section of the browser, so it doesn’t move anything important or crowd the fold.

        Reply
  2. Greg Pincus

    Those are three indispensable tools, indeed. I think besides other tools, it’s using these tools to maximum advantage. Like with whatever analytics tool you use on your own site (Google, Sitemeter, Stat Counter, whatever), a key use for it is to see the search terms and keywords that get people to your site not only where they’re coming from. With the search terms, you see what’s working for you, and you can also see if you’re getting the “right” traffic. It’s much easier to convert – to sales or fans or anything – people who are finding what they’re looking for rather than people who stumble to you looking for a completely different thing than what you offer. Knowing what you’re hoping to accomplish and then studying all this data, as you say, is the best way to see if you’re getting any ROI.

    Reply
    1. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Post author

      “Studying all this data” is often the missing step. So many marketers think “analytics” means using the tools to produce reports, and forget to do the important work of actually ANALYZING the data. I hinted at that a bit by referencing SEO/SEM strategy, and intend to follow up on it down the road.

      Reply
    1. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Post author

      Website Grader is a decent service (and they’ve recently integrated both Blog and Twitter Grader with it), but it’s primarily a lead-generation tool for Hubspot so its feedback is purposefully vague, limited and sometimes inadvertently misleading.

      Reply
  3. Whitney Segura

    Haha, this is a very cool post. I enjoyed the funny pictures about social media marketers being confused, it’s classic. I was certainly impressed by your originality. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  4. Roland Millward

    You are absolutely right that social media needs careful management and if not used wisely can be a real drain on time. Good planning is essential to make it work.

    A good article thank you.

    Roland Millward

    Reply

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