Larger businesses may have the luxury of a a great deal of resources and money, however, many smaller, local businesses do not. Those small business still need a way of managing their social media campaigns with what is known as a social media dashboard. This is an all-encompassing, web-based monitoring tool for Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites that your customers and prospects are frequenting.
The social media dashboard is a critical component of your process that provides you the vital information necessary to know what is working in your methods, where your visitors are spending the most time, and which links they are using the most.
And, just as when you are in the market for a new car, some can have every feature that you want, but you know almost instantly whether or not the car is right for you. It has to appeal to many different senses and it must be appealing to the eye as well. This is something that you should consider for your social media dashboard in order to be comfortable spending time there.
Just as important as having one is having one that is inexpensive, easy to use and fully automated. So where can you find these tools?
Before jumping into that information, I wanted to point out one thing. The key to tracking is this: don’t track everything. Only track the stuff that’s important to you. Your social media dashboard is going to give you the information that you don't need in front of your face everyday; however, it is important to help you know and understand the "behind the scenes" of what is taking place on your sites.
So, to begin, you need to compartmentalize your information. Dashboards allow you to put your information into groups that are easy to look at and glance at to see if there is anything new.
Understand what you want to track.
As with most things in life, you can’t conquer what you don’t understand, or at least what you haven’t really thought about.
Simply watching your website traffic alone is not going to be an accurate representation of your overall reach and network. Simply counting the number of friends, followers, and subscribers you have won’t tell you the quality of your audience.
What you really want to measure is the quality of the visitors to your website/blog from your social media channels.
Here are the top four social media metrics you should be tracking:
- Network and Audience Size: Facebook Fans, Twitter followers, RSS Readers, Website Visitors.
- Engagement of Visitors: This includes comments, retweets, referral links, loyalty of visitors, bookmarking.
- How Much Is it Growing during certain timeframes: Number of friends and followers, looked at after 1,2, and 3 months.
- The Marketing Funnel: What is the quality of site visitors from your social networks? How much time did they spend there? What is their loyalty? What pages did they spend the most time at?
What are the specific goals for you and your company? Do you want to track how people are sharing your website? Do you want to track a specific social media campaign? Each one requires different tools and different focus.
You’re going to focus on traffic statistics if you’re tracking social media website engagement. But if you’re tracking a wider campaign, Twitter responses and positive comments might be a more appropriate number for you to know.
Here are a few of the favorites.
- Ping.fm is an old standby for many of us and is easy to use, fast, and reliable. It also confirms when a post was successfully processed.
- Google Reader is another favorite monitoring tool. It can be used with the iGoogle platform for subscribing to blog feeds, and also for subscribing to Google Alerts.
- Hootsuite is another popular dashboard. HootSuite currently supports many apps: an iPhone app, an Android app, a Blackberry app and an iPad app. Hootsuite is an evolution of Twitter management. And alongside Twitter, Hootsuite helps you manage accounts with Facebook, LinkedIn, and the ability to update a host of other social networks through Ping.fm.
There are some benefits for marketing staff monitoring the dashboard on their desktop. First, it raised their consciousness because they became aware of the massive amount of unstructured social media data that is out there. They also came to realize and understand what was being said about the company, judged whether they liked it or not—and whether or not they participated in the conversation.
It also provides an opportunity to provide immediate damage control: By allowing companies to quickly notice the most negative content with the greatest potential to do the company damage and join a conversation to present their perspective.
You could also monitor what is known as sentiment with content, which would allow you to categorize your content. It's a way to separate social media content relevant to the company into different types based on the sentiment behind it and to develop approaches for deciding whether, and how, to respond to the content. And, with these content categories, you now have the ability to monitor things such as positive or negative tweets, which is another way of measuring the effects of your marketing efforts.
Another positive attribute of dashboard monitoring is that as we all know, there is so much content out there that is mostly irrelevant, so we want to be able to share only that "key" content with a select group within the company. Therefore, when someone finds information that is relevant, they can immediately then share this item with whomever they choose. The people receiving this piece of information will also know that it has been screened by a real person, and that it is of importance, and that it will require an action.
The information here is just to give you some starting points when looking to set your own dashboard. When it comes to using social media, the list of tools is endless. It's up to you to find and decide what is best for you and your small business.
What makes any tool useful is its ability to accomplish specific objectives that will ultimately enhance your productivity.There are many companies out there that provide them, but as I stated before, you need to research them and find which one works best for you and your company.
About the Author.
Marco Giunta is a Senior Business Development Executive and the author of the book: Rethinking Sales.
He is a leading expert in Global Outsourcing with a focus on banking, financial services and other Industry sectors and has a long list of clients. Mr. Giunta is a speaker and presenter. He has led start-ups, business strategy groups, technology think tanks and has experience as a career coach. Visit Marco’s website at marcogiunta.com.