What does “good growth” on social media actually look like?

Growing a huge number of followers on social media sounds great, and can feel even better. Hitting that one-hundred (or -thousand, or -million) mark is a quantifiable achievement you can easily show off, because anyone can view and understand it.

But if you’re thinking about social in a true business sense – as I hope we all are – then the real trick is to have your follower count “ladder up” to something meaningful. 

How will your social media followers

actually impact your brand?

Consider a B2B sales team charged with bringing in new clients. If their bonuses are solely tied to an overall number of new clients for the year, do you think they'll care if the clients they bring in are a good fit for the business? If they're profitable? If the company can actually service them? If these clients can be retained?

The same thing can be said of your social media followers. It’s important for social success to be tied to more than just a basic follower count. Similar to over-simplified business sales goals, there are so many more factors that contribute to “good growth” on social. 

Track Your ROI with a Social Media Metrics Scorecard   

Successfully tracking your wins across the spectrum of available metrics can give you a much-better sense of your social media ROI. These numbers can also inform your team in a broader sense by providing a detailed picture of your brand’s overall reach and impact. This can help your brand’s leaders make better business decisions – which is a great way to showcase your value to the organization.

Start by listing your organization’s top business goals, then find the key 3-5 social metrics that can serve as key performance indicators (KPIs) for meeting those objectives. This is a crucial step toward explaining the ROI of your efforts on social.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

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Consider the Entire Customer Journey

Although it may often be forgotten by stressed-out managers trying to reach sales goals, you usually can’t get prospective customers to the bottom of your sales funnel without a little time and patience.

In digital marketing, it’s often unreasonable to expect someone to become a customer after just a few ad impressions or social media engagements. That means you need to consider the entire customer journey as you organize your social media measurement and reporting efforts.

There are a lot of "events" that can happen on social BEFORE someone becomes a customer:

  • Engaging with social media content
  • Following your brand’s page
  • Visiting your website
  • Signing up for an email list
  • Downloading a whitepaper or a free PDF
  • Clicking a retargeting ad
  • Adding a product to a cart

You should consider how to best move someone along from one step to the next vs. expecting them to advance from the very top to the very bottom with one status update.

This year’s Shorty award in the TV category went to the Netflix original series Narcosbased on their successful social campaign that used a “micro-conversions” approach to building viewership.

The ultimate goal of the campaign was to get as many people to watch Narcos as possible. But instead of blasting would-be viewers with “Watch Now!” messages, the campaign created content their social audience could relate to and would actually enjoy. Graphic content connected thematic elements of the show (like power, money, and, of course, cocaine) to current events and trends (like Donald Trump and emojis). This approach earned hundreds of thousands of social engagements, which helped the show become the most-watched Netflix original in 2015 – with more viewers than even HBO’s Game of Thrones.

You can use a similar approach as you craft both a social content strategy and your measurement/reporting goals. Give yourself credit for the “micro conversions” you earn – not only because it feels good (and makes you look better) but because it also affects your overall social marketing approach. Focusing all your efforts on “macro conversions” (like leads, sales, or TV viewers) won’t get you far on social channels. Social media users aren’t in a hurry to give you their time or money, especially if it means taking them away from their favorite social media app. So focus instead on engaging them with useful information, experiences and conversations.

By providing value through tips, entertainment, or a carefully crafted community, and then picking the best metrics to measure your success, your small wins on social will add up to business success, and you’ll have the data to prove it.