Know What You're Shooting For Before Starting a Social Marketing Campaign

There are some pretty serious misconceptions among marketers when it comes to social marketing. Knowing what you are really after with social marketing is crucial in pulling off a successful campaign. Most people are measuring the wrong things and feeling like social marketing is coming up short for them.

Let's look at the difference between old school tracking and the new metrics marketers must track today.

The days of old-school metrics are long gone. Used to be you could get by with a good log file analytics program that came with your hosting package to track the important metrics.

Old School Metrics

-Visitors and Page Views: The raw data for daily visitors and daily page views across your domain.
-Optin rate: The number of people who optin to your list vs. total traffic for that day.
-Search engine bots: Which bots visit your site on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
-Referrers: From engines to individual sites. Who is sending you traffic.
-Entry and Exit: The pages visitors land on and exit from your site.
-Paths: The pages or "path" your visitors take through your site.
-Bounce Rate: How many visitors stay on your site less than 30 seconds.

Social Marketing Metrics

-Subscribers: RSS and newsletter subscriptions.
-Stick-Rate: How long social traffic stays and moves around the site.
-Linking: How many people on different social sites are posting, voting, and linking to your site.
-Comments: Average comments generated per post.
-Pickup: How many times across how many social news sites your linkbait, for instance, gets picked up, talked about, and voted to prominent placement, such as the front pages of social news sites.
-Bookmarks: How many people are coming through social bookmark engines like Delicious.
-Link Popularity: How many sites/publishers you are attracting with your content who write about you and link to you in their posts (the best kind of link you can get).
-Social News Tracking: How many visits you get from social news as well as how well individual pieces of content do on each site.

There are all kinds of things to monitor with a social marketing campaign. There are all kinds of things you can do to generate buzz, acquire great links, and get sudden surges of both traffic and mentions on other prominent sites as a result of your social marketing. Yet most people think that the initial traffic gained by hitting social sites with a piece of linkbait is the entire goal of social marketing.

What's The True Meaning of Social Marketing?

The biggest misconception about social marketing is that you want to get 5000 visitors from Digg or StumbleUpon for a linkbait piece and call it a day. Thousands of website owners have done that only to wake up the next morning, see a ton of traffic has come through, but little to no activity in RSS or email subscribers, sales, or ad clicks.

What Happened?

This is where the understanding of social marketing breaks down. People think that social traffic is the same or even better than search engine traffic. They figure it has to be warmer to their content and products or ads because it came from social sites.

While it is true that social traffic is warmer than all other forms of traffic, if done right, what webmasters fail to understand is the "surfing culture" of social sites, especially social news sites like Digg.

Someone visiting your site from Digg is on their way to 5-10-20+ other sites during their surfing session. They have the attention span of a gnat and an itchy mouse finger just waiting for you to give them an excuse to get back to Digg and find other stories, videos, or pictures they might be interested in.

How in the world do you capture the attention of such a surfer who fits that profile? Most times, you don't. But your mistake would be to think that catching their attention was the whole point of the social marketing exercise. It's not!

Social Marketing is for Links - Then Traffic!

Traffic from social sites is something you have to work diligently to learn how to convert. That is another post for another day. For now, I'd like to set the record straight about what is most important for a social marketing campaign. And it's not the initial spurt (or flood) of traffic.

The most important thing about a social marketing campaign is the linkage you get from it. I'm not talking about the links from your submitted posts on Digg or Propeller. I am talking about the links you pick up from other bloggers and site publishers who find your story on the front page of Digg or Propeller and then write about it back at their site.

Here's how a complete campaign breaks down:

1. Linkbait piece is posted.
2. If it resonates, it is voted up to prominent position in one or more social news sites.
3. That activity catches the attention of other bloggers in your niche and hopefully moves them to write about your piece and link to you.

Until that cycle completes, you aren't done. You might need to go back and get more votes to move up on certain sites. Asking your visitors to take the time to vote if they like your post is a good tactic to get the needed votes for the submission to catch on.

Until you get some linkage and traffic from fellow bloggers or other publishers, you cannot consider your linkbait campaign a success. Even if you generated a few thousand hits from the social site users.

Picking Up Important Links

Every successful blogger uses the social news sites and other blogs to keep up on their industry and to grab "scoops" they can blog about. Remember when I said the most important link you can pick up on the web is a link within the content of a page? For bloggers, this is inside the post.

Your social marketing campaign is not a success until you've mastered how to gauge success by the number of new links coming to your site as a result of reaching through the social news sites and grabbing publishers by the throat;forcing them to notice your story and publish their own blurb or riff about it.

You aren't done monitoring the success or failure of your latest linkbait piece until you've determined how many links the piece generated through the social sites you did well on. And in order to even get to this point, you have to do a good job on the linkbait and a great job of getting it into the important social sites for your niche. And then it must be voted up to a prominent placement.

Social Marketing Campaign Monitoring

googlealerts.JPGGoogle Alerts: Professional social marketers live and die by this little undervalued tool. I can find out nearly instantly when someone has mentioned my products, my name, or any of my sites and associated keywords. People are often surprised when I comment on their latest post that they published just moments before. Google Alerts is a mission critical tool.

TIP: Instead of using social power linking as a Google Alert, I put it in quotes ("social power linking") so that I only get alerts when people are actually talking about that product. Always use quotes for keyword phrases.

Use daily comprehensive updates to be alerted the instant Google finds a new mention of whatever you are tracking.

commentsniper.JPGComment Sniper: I love this app! I use it to get alerts the moment the movers and shakers in my niche publish something. It allows me to be one of the first to comment on important sites before the masses get there. (I have increased my traffic a great deal by using Comment Sniper to know the instant, say, Matt Cutts makes a post I can respond to.

It helps you pick up "scoops" and blog about them before most everyone else.

It helps you develop a stronger profile at social news sites because you can often be the first to "Digg" a new post on an A-List site which has a better chance of going to the front page simply because of the popularity of A-List bloggers.

Social Metrics Services

There are new services coming out that allow you to track your "branding" in the social news sites, blogs, and forums. They are pricey and I am sure competitors will come out that provide pricing for smaller shops this year. It shows that social marketing is growing up when companies are formed to help track important metrics only social media can generate.

Here are a couple of examples of social branding tracking services:

1. Andiamo Systems: "Word of Mouth Measurement"
2. Sentiment Metrics: Blog and social media measurement.

Getting a handle on the important social marketing metrics for your campaign is important. I will continue to update on this topic as new tools and tactics come out.

Author's Bio: 

Jack Humphrey is a coach and marketing consultant with Universal Marketing and Management. More from Jack on Social Marketing...