It has become increasingly understood that having a Facebook presence for your business should be among the top things to be included in your 2011 online marketing efforts. The question is no longer why Facebook is a valid channel, but how to capture leads and generate a return on your investment (ROI).
Creating a loyal fan following within Facebook takes a lot of ongoing commitment, dedication, consistent engagement and strategy. Engaging fans to like your page by offering incentives, promotions or exclusive rewards is one of several ways to build your fan base. But the question that remains is: what do you do once you have your captive audience? Being able to capture fans’ email addresses, names and possibly phone numbers is a great way to get to better know your audience and build your database for other possible marketing efforts.
(Below is a screen shot of how you can capture your Facebook fan’s credentials)
The above custom Facebook tab has a lead generation form built into the design that allows you to easily capture your fan’s information. Building up and creating a Facebook fan base is step one, but it’s how you capitalize on your Facebook fan base and convert them into a sale that is key. Creating a custom Facebook tab that allows your fans to engage by asking questions as well as providing their contact information is great way to continue to build a relationship with your customer base outside of Facebook.
According to a recent article by eMarketer, “US marketers will spend $3.08 billion to advertise on social networking sites this year. Spending will be up 55% over the $1.99 billion advertisers devoted to social networks in 2010 and will rise by a further 27.7% next year to reach nearly $4 billion.” Amazingly enough, spending in social media is $1 billion dollars greater than what was projected back in August 2010 (a mention that I made in a previous blog post). What’s the disparity? One word. Facebook; the biggest player in the field.
Often times, businesses seek guidance in trying to formulate a “magic number” to set aside for online advertising. While there isn’t an easy way to project this number, one thing to consider including in future budgets is paid advertising in social media networks. According to the same study done by eMarketer, “Social network advertising is to account for 10.8% of the online market.”
With the increasing number of people participating in these social channels, coupled with the amount of time spent throughout a day (either personally or for business), this data actually begins making a lot of sense. People are spending more and more time on social media. Paid advertising through these networks enables businesses to get in front of their viewers, hypothetically, all day long. If you would like additional insights, check out this recent article from BusinessNewsDaily on 5 Ways Businesses Will Use Social Media in 2011.
Understanding the benefit of the social media channels can greatly impact your ability to gain new customers and increase ROI in 2011. As a side note, always remember that it’s never too late. If social media advertising isn’t within your budget for this year, begin with what you can afford. Creating social media accounts for business, if you haven’t already, is the first step in gaining a presence in the space. Including social media accounts onto your website will help with your SEO rankings. Lastly, always find a way to measure progress. Quantitative data in social media channels through analytics, will allow you to understand which efforts are successful. Use this data as a guide to making optimal business and marketing decisions for the future.
Social media channels have proven to be great marketing tools for companies, but measuring success can be difficult. You may be working significant hours each week to enhance your company’s social media efforts, but how can you be sure that you are tracking everything as optimally as possible?
First, it’s important to mention that social media success is not necessarily going to be visits to your website or immediate purchases of your products from social channels. Success can also be measured by engagement with fans or followers and the conversations held within the channels.
That said, there are times when you’ll want to drive traffic to your own website or blog pages from channels such as Facebook and Twitter. When doing this, you will want to make sure that you tag those links for Google Analytics (GA). For basic instructions on how to tag links for GA, please see the blog post title, Yes, Google Analytics can track that, too!
If you are not familiar with tagging for analytics, you should read the above post first, because in short, you will not be able to successfully track social media visits if you are not going to code all of the links for Google Analytics first. At this time, Google Analytics depends upon those query parameters to know what referral information to write into the GA referring cookie (the __utmz cookie).
Below are a few examples… Here’s a hypothetical tweet on Twitter:
“Social media made simple from #morevisibility!!! http://bit.ly/1jiXS ”
Of course merely reading the tweet will not show you anything in GA (although it may provide value in terms of the information tweeted) but a visitor clicking on that bit.ly link will show you the following in GA (you can click on the link to get the full effect):
This is because, as you can see, there are no query parameters at the end of the URL once you get to our website’s homepage after you click the bit.ly link. The path that a visitor takes looks like:
Twitter >> Bit.ly >> MoreVisibility
Since bit.ly is merely a re-direct to MoreVisibility, Twitter isn’t credited with the referring information.
Another example with a different bit.ly link:
“Social media made simple from #morevisibility!!! http://bit.ly/f4Bfqg”
A visitor clicking on this second bit.ly link will show you the following in GA:
Campaign: January 2011 Tweets
Content: Social Media Made Simple
This is possible due to the query parameters at the end of the URL after you’re redirected to our site. The path that a visitor takes is still:
Twitter >> Bit.ly >> MoreVisibility
But since we added the query paraments into the bit.ly shortening tool, it will show twitter as the source in Google Analytics, social-media as the medium, and so on, when clicking on that bit.ly link.
Last example: Same tweet, only this time we are not using a bit.ly URL:
“Social media made simple from #morevisibility!!! www.morevisibility.com”
Now, if anyone clicks on this link you will see the following in GA:
twitter.com is now the source and the medium is a referral because that is a link on Twitter’s website that someone clicked on to get to the website. The path would obviously not contain bit.ly because we did not shorten the link this time:
Twitter >> MoreVisibility
As many of you knowTwitter only allows 140 characters per tweet. Almost any page other than a homepage will use up quite a bit of valuable space, so that is why shortening links can be helpful.
Facebook does not have quite as strict restrictions on character counts, so you could use the actual URL (without Google Analytics tagging) and it will show up as a referral in GA.
Browser-based apps vs. desktop-based apps are also something to consider. If it’s a desktop-based app (one that you actually install on your PC where you don’t use a browser such as Chrome or Internet Explorer to control), then any clicks on links without GA query parameters will appear as direct traffic. If the links are tagged with the GA query parameters, then the traffic will appear with the source / medium combination that you have used in the query parameters.
Browser-based apps (ones that you log-in to a website and are using a browser to control) could appear as referrals from that website that you’re logged-in to, like Hootsuite.
So as you set out to track your social media efforts, it’s important to understand the intricacies of tracking and the ways in which this traffic may appear in your Google Analytics.