Measuring success; we all want to do it. So how do you know if your efforts on social media are bearing any fruit? Can you justify the hours your are spending posting a steady stream of updates to the multitude of social media platforms? This article explores what measurements exist, what they mean, and some tools you can use to monitor your success.
The past few weeks I talked primarily about how your church can use social media to enhance your online outreach. A website is only on piece of the puzzle in getting the word out that you exist. Plus social media platforms are a great space to engage potential members in both public and private conversations. Yet aside from new members showing up on your doorstep, how can you tell if those interactions mean anything?
Social Media Analytics
Many social media platforms provide you a report of how your account performed the past few days or weeks. These are free tools that not only help you gauge success, but also show the potential for highlighting your content via paid advertisements or promoted content. Some social media metrics and methods of measuring success are:
- Views: How many people actually saw the content you posted. This may mean they were not on when it posted and they never bothered to scroll down in the timeline to see it. Although what is more common with social media platforms is that your content is only displayed to a percentage of people that subscribe to your stream.
- Interactions: This is when someone clicks something in association with your post. On Facebook it is a "like", Twitter has "favorite", and on Google+ has a "+1". Basically this is when someone wants to passively interact with your content; either showing approval or support for your statement. Although it is great to get these kinds of interaction, it varies on platform if other people will see the number of people approve of your post. It may also have influence on how many other people see the post, but typically it is just a "feel good" kind of metric that lets you know your message resonated with your audience.
- Sharing: In many circles, this is considered the best type of interaction. It occurs when the viewer likes your post so much they decide to share it with their list of subscribers. This is the way you can increase the number of view and interactions and to have a nice cumulative effect. The right people that share and get their friends to re-share can create the "viral" effect you want. Plus it is the easiest way to beat the default percentage limits social media platforms put in place. The more people that share, the more will see, interact, and hopefully find their way back to your website.
External Indicators and Tools
- Klout: Klout allow a business to connect various social media outlets for them to measure. They see how often people view, interact with, and share your content. Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, LinkedIn shares, and Google+ +1's are all ways they can see how popular your posts are. It provides you feedback in terms of a numerical score, which can help you determine what kinds of actions are having the biggest impacts
- ThinkUp: ThinkUp is another service that connects and analyzes your social media accounts. However this one is focused not only on your reach and interactions, but also let you know more about the people you are reaching. For instance, they will let you know who interacts with and promotes your content. Another is analysis of the topics and content types your visitors like the most. It appears to be less score driven and offer more helpful and personal suggestions for sculpting your content to create the most favorable interactions.
Action Item: Do not be content to just post and share your church's content on social media platforms. Know and understand the various ways users can interact with your content. Realize what each means and strive to increase those numbers. Ask your congregation to help out, and even put calls to action directly within the content for others to see. Often the simple act of asking will encourage those interactions to increase. Finally, see if one of the tools I mentioned can help automate data collection and bolster your claims that social media is helping your church achieve its goals.
Image courtesy of Svilen Milev