By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
You’ve probably heard more than just one person say that they are a social media “expert.” In the early days of social networks (and can you believe that Facebook is already eight years old?), I tended to believe self-proclaimed social media gurus were as smart and influential as they claimed to be. It was easy for someone to say they were an expert because there was no surefire way to quantify or validate it.
As social media enters its next phase with more developed analytics, anyone who says they’re an expert on the subject will have to prove it. But measurement doesn’t just have to help separate the social media wheat from the chaff. It can also help you determine the efficacy of your efforts.
Facebook recently upgraded their analytics page, also known as “insights,” to provide more robust metrics for fan and business pages. There are many ways you can benefit from this: Let’s say you’re farming a new area. By using insights, you could track the number of users who engage with your page from that area.
You can also learn about the age range of your audience. Now that older generations have embraced social media (my mother may be the biggest Facebook lurker I know, and so are many of her friends), this might help give you a better understanding of which age groups are engaging with you. If you’re not reaching an audience you’d like to target, you can change your content strategy. For example, if you wanted young buyers, you could post content about first-time home buying. It’s also important to review which stories are being “liked” and commented on the most so you can make better content choices when you post on your wall. It can’t hurt to be able to say in a listing presentation that you have 3,000 users on Facebook who are actively engaged with your page. Maybe one of those fans will be a buyer.
While Twitter doesn’t currently have analytics built in, there are number of applications you can use in conjunction to the social network. HootSuite and TweetDeck seem to be the most popular, and if you send out a Web link through them, you’ll be able to accurately capture how many people actually clicked on that link. In addition, it can report how many people retweeted your comments.
Then there is Klout, which grades your social media influence on a scale from one to 100. It calculates the score by pulling information from your social networks, such as how many friends and followers you have, how many of them are actively engaging with you, and how many of them are sharing your content. Any score over 50 is considered to be good, if not impressive. Those with higher scores tend to have a very high level of engagement with their followers. Having a large amount of followers with little interaction doesn’t translate to a high score.
It’s great that so many things online can now be reliably measured. It partly explains why so many media outlets and advertisers have moved to the Web from print — they want measurable results to show for the dollars they’re spending. Approach social media with the same mindset: Now that it offers more and better analytics, you should make sure your effort is being spent wisely.