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If there is one complaint that is often heard regarding social media marketing it is the lack of analytics and the inability for business to measure return on investment. This perception is not really true – you can measure the success or failure of a social media marketing campaign. I would go further and suggest that you can measure and compare different campaigns to determine which is the more effective.

The hardest part of any form of measurement is the collection of data. This is not as hard as it may seem. Your first step is to determine what data is important. You can measure any of the following social media outcomes to determine success or failure.

Social media views – You are able to measure how many people have viewed your page on Facebook, and how many times your video has been viewed in most of the video sites. You can also measure how many people are reading your blog.

Subscribers, followers and fans – You can measure the growth in subscriber numbers for your blog or newsletter, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans.

Social media sharing – How many times are your Tweets retweeted, your pages liked, or your blog pages Stumbled? Sharing is reported to be a factor used by search engines to determine authority.

Traffic – Your own web analytics should be able to tell you how much traffic is flowing from social media websites to your pages. This will tell you if your social media marketing campaign is being effective.

Conversions – The ultimate statistic is being able to measure how many conversions you are achieving that can be directly attributed to your social media marketing activity. Using tracking codes on your links can help you to measure this.

Return on investment does not have to be a monetary return. If you decide you need to achieve a certain number of subscribers to make newsletter marketing viable, then the success of any social media campaign will be measured by the final number of subscribers achieved. The monetary return will come at a later date and will depend on how many sales can be attributed to your newsletter.

What is important is that you can measure various components of a social media marketing campaign.

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