You Tweet. You Facebook. You even post videos to YouTube about your business. Social media marketing is what businesses do. But, how do you track social media?

Businesses need social media. Social media is a form of web-based communication. Through communicating through web-based and mobile technologies, businesses can interact with their customers. Today’s businesses rely on a combination of website-based businesses, viral marketing through social media and word-of-mouth marketing to sell their products, increase their customer base and promote their businesses.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and many other social media platforms are the up-and-coming way for businesses to get the word out about their products and services. A business can reach their audience through a variety of social media methods, including:

  • the business website
  • blog outreach
  • social media like Twitter/Facebook/YouTube
  • media buying through ads

But, how does a business know who it is reaching with its social media efforts? What is the rate of return or return on investment for that tweet about widgets?

Return on Investment

While it is difficult to compute whether sales increased due to one tweet, by using social media marketing efforts coupled with more traditional print ads and person-to-person marketing a bigger, clearer connection between all the communication elements becomes visible. How do you measure the benefits of tweeting, posting status updates, and many other social media tools for your business?

The ROI or return on investment can be shown by looking at:

  • mentions -- people are talking about your business and your product.
  • traffic -- track the number of people who visit your website or blog, Fan your Facebook page, or follow you on Twitter.
  • positive feedback -- look at what people are “saying” about your product. Engage with your customers through social media.
  • tracking promotional codes -- How many people are clicking on a link? You can track clicks on specifc urls by using url shortener:

There is no way to quantify the volume of people who “listen” to and then act on a call to action in your business’ ad, website, blog, tweet, or Facebook update, but by looking at the return on investment of social media you can develop a picture to see how you have reached your business’ audience.

Tracking Social Media Reach -- Paid Services

Social media monitoring tools can provide an in-depth look at how your brand is perceived online. While no tool is foolproof, a couple of key tools can show whether a social media campaign is effective.

The sheer volume of social media conversations means that it is impossible to track all

conversations, but with Visible Technologies’ combination of automated software and consulting

services interpretation is easier. Visible Technologies can demystify the depth of the social media conversations about your brand to derive meaningful value.

Radian 6 products provide a platform to listen, discover, measure and engage in conversations across the social web. Through Radian 6 software, hundreds of millions of posts are captured each day, including the full Twitter Firehose, Facebook, blogs, news sites, discussion boards, video and image sharing sites. The results are returned to the user for exploration, understanding and action.

Tracking Social Media Reach -- Free Services

Visible and Radian 6 are available to business users for a price. However, there are free tools for tracking the return on investment of social media outreach available, including:

  • Google Blog Search -- find a description of each blog by category
  • Technorati -- real-time search for user-generated media by tag or keyword
  • Twitter -- use Twitter’s search feature to find what people are saying by searching for keywords, user names, and hashtags (a hashtag is a key word preceded by the “#” symbol, for instance, #onlinesafety, #community)
  • YackTrack -- find out what people are saying through search functionality

Want to know the reach of your tweet? Use Tweetreach. In this case, “reach” means the number of potential users who “read” your tweet. Tweetreach’s tagline is “How far did your tweet travel?”

You can also use your website’s analytics program to see where traffic to your site is coming from. It’s easy enough to see that people clicked a link from Facebook or Twitter to get to your site. Some analytics programs may be sophisticated enough to show resulting sales on these clicks.