As a smart business owner, you have already “bought” in to the idea of social media. You know that it can help brand your business and generate revenue. But how do you know if what you are doing is really working? Can you tell if there are areas that you can improve? We’ve mapped out a few guidelines that should be followed to gain a better marketing focus and improve your social media analytics.

What Are Your Objectives?

If you don’t know what you want to improve, it’s hard to measure your success. First, scope a snapshot of what your social data is before you make any changes. From there it will be easy to set marketing goals that you want to reach through social media. Give yourself a quarter or two to see if you’re reaching these goals, or if your approach needs to be revisited. If you want to work off of industry benchmarks, Hubspot is a useful resource for finding this data.

What to Measure?

To gain a better understanding of where you can improve, measure the following measured:

  • Number of “new” fans and friends
  • Number of mentions
  • Number of individual clicks on your site
  • Conversion rate

How do you measure each one of these? To measure fans and mentions, you can use Crowdbooster, Sprout Social, or Facebooks Insights. You can also manually record on an excel spreadsheet the names of the new fans you gain each month.

To measure the number of individual clicks and the conversion rate, you can use Google Analytics. It's easy to set up. Once you are registered, all you will need to do is go to “Traffic Sources” and select “Social.” Be wary, though: Google Analytics’ main purpose is to generate leads, so it doesn’t provide the full scope that you may be looking for.

Add URLs to Track Your Campaign.

To gain a full picture of your social media efforts, consider purchasing a Chrome app that traces social media through the use of the Google Analytics URL Builder. Fill in the information on the form and it will generate a URL that can be used to track your visits and leads. This can be very useful in determining what is and isn’t working in your marketing efforts. Did you try a new promotion and see your visits spike? That is valuable information. Tried a different marketing message and had no new “friends” that day? Maybe you shouldn’t use that message again.

Social media doesn’t cost very much, and you are free to try new ideas as often as you like. By using social analytics, you can quantify these efforts and turn that into probability.

— Chris Marentis is founder and CEO of Surefire Social, a local internet marketing company.