As with any marketing activity you engage in, it's important to know whether your efforts are working, and whether they're advancing your goals.

When it comes to social media, there's no one-size-fits-all measure you can put in place – it really comes down to what you're trying to achieve as an individual and a business.

The potential power of using social media to build and enhance your personal and business reputation is high if used the right way to boost your business.

People do business with people they know, like and trust

When used properly, social media can help people get to know you better, to build brand affinity and trust. Over the long run, your engagement on social media can generate sales leads and revenue for your business – and ultimately – become your most important measure.

Here are some simple ways of measuring the effectiveness of your social media and content marketing activities.

An introduction to social media for small businesses - Small Business Victoria Workshops

An introduction to social media for small business

Tim Gentle, Small Business Victoria Workshop Leader

[Visual: Tim Gentle sitting at table]

G'day. It's Tim Gentle here, and we're talking social media. Now when I think of social media, I think of it like the heartbeat of the internet. That's where you participate and how you are perceived in social media.

So what are the benefits? Well one that I really like is that you get to people at the early stages of the buying cycle. To break that right down, it's like when you're sitting on the couch and you're thinking about going on holiday. You're browsing on your iPad, and slowly but surely little social gems come into your feed. It's a bit like when dad brought home that QANTAS jet, you know, now I'm flying Qantas. So social media isn't all about the now, it's about the early seed.

Now also it can help you with your search engine rankings. How you are perceived, and how you participate in social media, is part of the algorithm that Google use to rank websites. So on occasions you need to get involved in social media just so you get good rankings.

Now it can help increase conversion rates on your shopping cart. If you use social videos to, you know, show how to use the product, or maybe reviews about you as a company. These are all things that people look for and it's called social proof.

Now when we participate in social media, we wear five hats. Let's walk through those.

The first hat is marketing. That's all about your brand. It's about customer service, about research and about generating leads.

Now another hat we wear is informative. We want to inform people about, say, an event we've got coming up or a product and service we sell.

Now the other hat that we wear is supportive. We want to support people. We want to encourage them. They might be participating in a fundraising event.

We also want to energise people. We want to get people excited, and that's all about social media.

And the final one is to listen. Make sure you listen to what your customers are saying and what your competitors are doing.

Right. I wanted to leave you with some social media tips to make sure that the effort that you put in, you reap the rewards. All right. We'll start from the very top.

I always ask my customers what they want in their social feed, so you need to know what the fish are biting if you want to catch the fish.

Now have top level support. What I mean by that is if you've got a directorship, or if you've got management, they need to support social media, because in social media you have to be able to accept the good, the bad and the ugly. Just like the real world, it's not always going to be positive and you need to have a policy in place if people say something negative about you.

Now always be transparent and be honest. People want to get the human factor when it comes to social media. And don't let perfection get in the way of progress.

So another tip is to be consistent. If you're in a bad mood one day maybe just pull out of social media and attempt it tomorrow. But at the same time, you know, don't be this one day and that another day.

Another thing is website integration. Do you know that you can feed in your Facebook feed or your Twitter feed into your website? That's a fantastic thing. And always measure success. A lot of these social media platforms have insights which tell you what people are looking at, what they are sharing and what they're liking.

Alright, well my name's Tim Gentle and I'm one of the Small Business Victoria workshop leaders that put on an array of workshops for you as a small business to grow. My suggestion, check out some of the knowledge, attend the workshops and grow your business online. I'll catch you soon.

[On screen: Victoria State Government – Authorised by the Victoria Government, Treasury Place, Melbourne. Spoken by Tim Gentle.]

Measuring content results

Depending on your objectives, there are a number of ways to measure the success of your content marketing by asking the following questions:

  • How many shares, backlinks and mentions does your content receive via social channels, for example retweets, Facebook and LinkedIn likes, shares and comments?
  • What sort of traffic to your website is your content generating, and which articles are the most popular?
  • How many people are viewing your videos on YouTube, listening to your podcasts or checking out your SlideShare presentations?
  • Is your content having a positive impact with search engines, and are you increasingly ranking higher for the keywords and phrases you want your business to be known for?
  • Is your content gaining placement in, or being featured on, relevant industry publications, websites and blogs?
  • Critically, are people subscribing to your content, and is your email subscriber list growing as a result of your efforts?

Measuring social results

Measuring your effectiveness in regards to your social presence can also be done in a number of ways, including:

  • the number of followers, connections and likes your brand has across various social channels – and if these numbers are growing steadily
  • the level of engagement with your existing and potential customers
  • your ability to reach out to, and build relationships with, key influencers in your industry
  • whether people are promoting and/or recommending you on Twitter, Facebook and other channels

Measuring your profile and credibility

You can get a good idea of your credibility by looking at measuring your performance with these questions in mind:

  • Is your brand's visibility, influence and authority being enhanced, and is this leading to offline opportunities, such as speaking engagements and boardroom presentations around the topics you want to be known for?
  • Are you seeing increased PR opportunities, such as journalists, bloggers, podcasters coming to you for quotes or interviews? Or are you being asked to provide guest blog posts or opinion pieces in relevant on and offline publications?

Choosing the right monitoring and measurement tools

There's no shortage of (free and paid-for) platforms and tools available to monitor, analyse and measure your social media and content marketing activity.

Popular tools

Free tools:

Tools with paid options:

  • Mention: includes mentions online – free with paid options
  • Hootsuite: measuring social media analytics – free with paid options
  • Sprout Social: measure your social media engagement – free trial, then it's paid.

It's important to determine what you're trying to achieve and then put realistic measures in place to help guide you towards your goals.

Experiment and try new things

Some things will work, others won't, so find what works for you and your brand – from the kind of content that resonates and gets shared around, to the frequency with which you post to Twitter and Facebook.

Use your content marketing plan to take note of:

  • the connections you make
  • the relationships you build
  • the opportunities that have been created

Google Garage offers free training to help you make the most of online opportunities including modules to decide what social media platforms are right for your business, set goals, get noticed on social media, measure your success and avoid pitfalls.