I was in a conversation with another business owner recently about blogs. We were discussing traffic and the large volume of people he gets to his blog, then he asked me how many visitors I get. I don’t like playing this game of “how big is yours?”. By comparison, I get considerably less traffic than him but my readers are highly targeted and well into my sales funnel by the time they get to me.
Metrics have always been a problem for small business owners. Too often, entrepreneurs mistakenly measure quantity over quality when it comes to metrics. They go for the easy-to-identify and easy-to-understand numbers and skip the real numbers that lie below the surface. Blog traffic is just one example. Twitter followers or Facebook fans are another. People spend a lot of money to get lots of Twitter followers or Facebook fans but then they don’t do anything with them. It’s not the number of followers or fans that count… it’s the level of engagement of your fans. That’s why replies and retweets are a far better metric for Twitter engagement than the number of followers you have.
In a recent article on Mashable.com entitled Making Data Relevant: The New Metrics for Social Marketing, social media engagement manager Prashant Suryakumar talks about the relevance of social media metrics and how business owners can learn more when they find the right metrics to use.
He lists valuable opportunities for businesses to use social media to discover and exploit opportunities, and what I want you to pay attention to specifically is the role of social media metrics in your sales funnel. Below, I’ve listed some of the areas of social media opportunity that Suryakumar explains (in bold), and then I describe how these tie into your sales funnel.
- Invest in data (to bring structure and understanding to the unstructured abundance of social media data): Data can so much about your contacts — from what stage they are at in the sales funnel to how likely they are to become a customer. With insight like that, why wouldn’t an entrepreneur WANT to move from a number-of-followers metric to something more meaningful?!?
- Real time monitoring (to keep your finger on the pulse of your sales funnel at any given moment): Watching the ups and downs of your business is so valuable in creating a predictable, sustainable business. But until social media became ubiquitous, it was difficult to have useful, real-time data. Now, you can see what people are saying and when, and you can respond accordingly… far earlier than you were ever able to before.
- Sentiment analysis (to see if people are generally positive or negative about your brand): Happy Customers tell their peers about you. But how can you make sure that your Customers are happy? Social media helps you watch all stages of your sales funnel to see how people are responding to your brand.
- New metrics (to move beyond followership to understand how group dynamics can improve your sales funnel): Selling to each contact takes a lot of work, and the people who are truly successful in business know that they can’t sell to everyone individually. What is needed is an endorsement from a key influencer. Trace the success of many entrepreneurs (especially online entrepreneurs) and you’ll see that a lot of it was tied to a key influencer who gave a hearty endorsement.
- Testing (to modify your activities and offerings based on immediate feedback): Ford’s Edsel is a great example of a product that could have undergone more testing. It was pushed out to the public and completely flopped. Today, social media gives an immediate avenue for businesses to try out new ideas before investing a lot of money in them. For example, social media allows you to quickly and easily identify what messages work well in a particular stage of your sales funnel.
- Behavior segmentation (to anticipate buyer profiles with information that goes far deeper than simple demographics): Your sales funnel contacts aren’t just made up of age and income statistics. They are living, breathing people who live very transparent lives online. Social media allows businesses to tap into that information to discover new connections (and thus, new opportunities) of understanding their target markets.
If you’re using social media as a tool for your sales funnel, it’s time to move beyond the simple number-of-followers or number-of-fans you have and go deeper into the data.