How are you measuring social marketing tactics?

It’s no surprise that in uncertain times higher education marketers look to more cost-effective tactics to help them fulfill their strategic marketing objectives.  One of the reasons why social media has seen such widespread adoption by colleges and universities is that it’s perceived to be cheap, if not free.  As you probably know, this is one of the major myths associated with social media marketing…a point highlighted recently by our own Kate Malone.

There is a cost associated with marketing to constituents on social media.  And while that cost may not always be monetary, there’s almost always a resource/labor cost associated with your initiatives.  This is why measurement matters even in social media.  However, one of the pitfalls of social media marketing is the difficulty in measuring your impact on the social web.

As MarketingSherpa points out this week, “Marketers are under constant pressure to measure everything they do. The result is often a default to tactics that are more easily and accurately measureable, regardless of their effectiveness. This is especially true in social media marketing which often requires qualitative measurement rather than quantitative metrics that are more familiar to online marketers.”

While advertising on social networks and blogs ranks high in terms of measurability, social networking profiles rank low on the list.  As the MarketingSherpa article points out, this is because “The value is derived not from the quantity…but from the quality of the…”  Still, as more institutions begin to invest time and resources into building out their presence on the social web, some measurement of these quality interactions will be required to justify the effort.

This is precisely why goal setting is so important prior to launching any social networking initiative. Internet marketing blog Dosh Dosh suggests the following goals, that could be applicable on both an institutional use as well as a personal/professional networking:

  1. Increased brand awareness. You’re interacting with others on the social media channel in order to build awareness for your personal and business brand. You’re increasing your visibility in the right areas and trying to stick in the minds of others through active interaction on many different levels. From this perspective, networking also works to drive traffic back to your website.
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  3. Improved reputation. You want to improve how others think about your website so you hang out in forums or networking sites, in order to respond to feedback. You want to keep the communication channels open on all social media fronts. You may also want to improve your reputation as an expert by being consistently involved in discussions on topics that are relevant to your business or website.
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  5. Personal Development. Networking with the right people will keep you in the loop on industry happenings and will also improve your knowledge levels. A big part of networking is observation. Seeing how others reflect or participate in conversations is a great way to improve your own experience in the field. (**NOTE: This is one of the great benefits of Twitter)
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  7. Relationships with benefits. One can network with others with the aim of extracting future benefits such as testimonials, links or recommendations. Others are more likely to provide you with a benefit when you’ve taken the effort to interact with them. Networking is a way to build relationships that can be mutually beneficial.

What are your goals for developing your presence on the social web?  How are you measuring against those goals? 

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