At Clareity’s 2014 MLS Executive Workshop, we presented for two hours on improving member / subscriber communications, covering topics such as email, social media, video, surveys, and use of language across these and other channels. Following is just a small part of that content, relating to social media.
As with email, the most important thing you can do to gauge the effectiveness of your social media activities is to measure the different aspects of how you are posting and who is listening to you.
Based on Clareity’s communications study, MLSs have room to improve regarding tracking social media effectiveness:
Two of the most important variables are when you make your posts (“post timing”) and the number of posts you make per day. There is conventional wisdom on both these questions, but the best thing you can do is to assess for yourself, by testing different strategies with different groups of readers to see which is the most effective. (The formal version of this method is called “A/B testing”; it can be used to test timing, quantity, or content.)
Judging effectiveness requires quantitative information, and the social media world makes it easy for you to obtain this information. One of the most important statistics you can obtain is reach – the number of people who see your post, either through subscribing to it or seeing it liked, shared, favorited, or retweeted in a friend’s feed. Reach is divided into two kinds: organic and paid. Organic reach refers to the number of people who see a post as a matter of course; paid reach refers to the people who see a post either as a matter of course or because you have paid for it to be promoted. The distinction is important because Facebook only shows a post to a small number of your subscribers unless they have either explicitly agreed to receive all notifications from your page or you have paid to have them shown to more people. HootSuite, Facebook Insights, and SalesForce Marketing Cloud are all capable of measuring reach and breaking it down into its components.
Another important statistic from social media is the traditional number of clicked links from your posts, which can be derived from a variety of sources. You embed links in your Twitter and Facebook posts. For the most detailed statistics on when and by whom they are clicked, you can make use of an URL redirector. A URL redirector is a service like bit.ly, goo.gl, or t.co that takes the URL you would like your users to go to and represents it as a short URL pointing to the redirector. When the user clicks on that link, which is the one you put in your post, he or she is taken to the redirector, data about him or her is captured, and he or she is sent on to your URL. The data may include such elements as the number of times a link has been clicked or re-tweeted, the geographical distribution of people who clicked, and a history showing click rates over time.
By testing your posts in terms of both content and timing, and by measuring the results using the tools mentioned above, you can craft more effective social media messages. At the MLS Executive Workshop, our presentation went into much more detail on these topics, including concrete advice on post timing, and many more, but for those MLS Executives who couldn’t attend, hopefully this article provides a starting point for improving member communications through social media.
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