This post is part three in a series on reviewing your social media marketing performance. Download the full white paper here.

Let’s say you ran a contest last month. In this contest, you promised one lucky winner a free iPad. All that entrants had to do was like you on Facebook and post your contest to their wall. The contest was a huge success—in one week you doubled your fan count. Huzzah!

In the following weeks, you’ve posted several links and a couple of offers. You were hoping to see a doubling of clicks on your links and conversions on your offers, but that didn’t happen. What’s going on?

This is a straightforward example showing that raw fan / follower count isn’t very meaningful by itself—you also need to evaluate who your fans and followers are. When asking this question, consider these dimensions:

  • What are my fan demographics?
  • How did my fans find me?
  • How much fan “churn” am I seeing?

Let’s take these one at a time.

What are my fan demographics?

Your company is looking to connect with specific types of people. You tailor your advertising, website, product, and all corporate communications with a specific audience in mind. The same should be true of your social media marketing.

First, make sure you know the exact target customer profile you’re trying to reach. This may be the same demographic targeting that is common to the rest of your organization or it may be specific to your social campaigns. Let’s say you sell gardening supplies and are primarily targeting women from 35 to 65 on the east coast. Awesome—now we have something to shoot for.

There are many tools online that will show you the demographic information on your fans and followers, but the most common way to look this up is via Facebook Insights (for Facebook) and Twitter Analytics (for Twitter). Unfortunately, Twitter Analytics is not yet open to the general public, so you may have to be patient to get at that data if you don’t yet have access.

Once you have the data in hand, compare your actual fan demographics the targets you defined earlier. The above graph from Insights shows gender and age for Argyle’s Facebook fans. We’re actually pretty happy about the age breakdown, but we’d like to see a more even split between male and female.

Where did my fans find me?

This is where we get fancy. It’s very important to understand where you’re getting your fans. Are you running Facebook ads or a Twitter promoted account? Are they coming from your website? A recent contest?

This data also comes from Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics (for those with access). In Facebook, there are two areas you need to look at: “Like Sources” and “External Referrers”. Like Sources will tell you where new users find you from within the Facebook ecosystem, while external Referrers tell you were users found you from outside the Facebook ecosystem. Between these two data points, you can get an accurate picture of where your fans are coming from.

There is no inherently better or worse way of acquiring fans—it’s up to you to find out what works best.

How much fan churn am I seeing?

Understanding churn will help you understand your fan base. Fan churn is simply lost fans as a percentage of your overall fan base. If your page has 1,000 fans and 10 of them “unliked” it last month, then your churn is 1%.

Churn is a good measure of how valuable people find your content. Very simply, if you’re posting interesting content and valuable offers, people will stick around. We suspect that a churn rate of 1-2% is natural, so take heed if you notice your churn climbing higher – you might have some work to do.

There are a couple of things that fan churn tells you:

  • Compare your fan growth rate to churn rate. If your churn is 1% and your growth is 10%, that’s no problem. If your churn is 3% and your growth is 4%, you’re losing fans almost as quickly as you’re gaining them. Yikes!
  • If your growth and churn are both high, that means that most of your fans haven’t been with you for very long. The longer fans are with you the more receptive they are to your marketing messages.

Bringing it back together

We started off by posing a situation: an iPad giveaway contest doubled your fan count, but this wasn’t generating additional clicks and conversions. Our gut instinct is that the fans from the contest weren’t the right target audience for our Page, and the data we just gathered proves this out. Here’s how to analyze this situation:

  1. Using Like Sources and External Referrers, verify that your new fans did in fact come from the contest that you ran.
  2. Look at your demographics from one month ago, prior to the contest. Now compare those to the demographics from today, after the contest. The differences between then and now represents the demographic breakdown of the fans coming from your contest. Does it match your target demographic? Likely not. Of course 13-18 year old males aren’t interested in your content and offers—they just wanted a free iPad!
  3. Compare your churn from one month ago to your churn today. Any increase in churn you see is from people liking your page simply for the duration of the contest and then unliking you afterwards.

Getting fans is much easier than getting the right fans. Thus, it’s critical to keep an eye on the demographic profile of your fan base—fans outside of your target demographic won’t progress further down the sales funnel.

The iPad giveaway example we provided exposes this nuance. Prizes like an iPad are valuable to any demographic, so your contest will therefore attract a broad range of entrants. Instead, offer a prize that only your target demographic will care about—for instance, a lifetime supply of your product.

If you’re using Twitter Promoted Accounts or Facebook ads, make sure that your targeting is narrow. As always, the best type of fan to get is the one who is referred by a friend. Good content and compelling offers are your best weapon.

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