If you’re not using data about your readers’ social behavior to target marketing and increase traffic, it might be time to ask, “Why not?”

Social media is still a relatively new tool for publishers and up until recently, the relationship to social media has been focused on driving traffic and engagement with existing content, not necessarily using it to determine how to tailor subscription offers and other marketing.

But that’s only part of the why not.

The other part is that 44% of companies surveyed in a recent study don’t measure their social media efforts. They don’t have mechanisms in place to do so. The study was conducted in June and examined how 11 global consumer industry sectors, across four regions, were using social media. Participants assessed ROI in 16 business categories including marketing, sales, service and innovation.

The good news for publishers?

Among those who reported the greatest benefits from social media were those in media. 42% of respondents reported having a successful structure for social media activities. Those who reported success cited a handful of factors that contributed. Among them: protecting audience data.

This begs the question: if you are going to protect your audience data, why not also leverage it to benefit those same customers?

“Only 10 percent had organized their social media efforts to significantly improve their business, for instance, in the way they market, sell, provide after-sale customer service, develop new products and services, as well as identify ways to improve their current offerings.”

That’s exactly what that 10% is doing. They develop teams comprised of marketing, sales, service, product development, and other key personnel to analyze the rich data they are collecting and use that information to create a deeper, ongoing relationship with their consumers.

What other practices do these companies have in common?

  • Overall, they invest more money on social media
  • They measure the impact of those investments
  • They are more likely to have corporate blogs
  • They have video channels
  • They create forums for their consumers
  • They use mobile apps specific to social media

Publishers Who Lead the Charge

This may have you thinking that this information is all well and good, but whoare the examples in your industry?

NewsWhip, a news aggregator and analysis company recently released their ranking of the “most social” media publishers on the web. BuzzFeed  (for Facebook) and the BBC (for Twitter) claimed the title, with Huffington Post in a close second (for Facebook).

For the month of August, BuzzFeed had nearly 16 million combined Facebook interactions. They produced nearly 7,500 pieces of content in that month and gathered 7.8 million likes, 4.3 million comments and almost 3.8 million shares on Facebook. Just over a year ago, they recorded only 2.4 million combined Facebook interactions.

Meanwhile, Huffington Post’s Facebook interactions more than doubled in the last year, and they produced the most social piece of content in August, with 23 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert.

Upworthy also reported notable growth and is one of the five most social publishers on Facebook, along with BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post. All three are online-only publishers.

And here’s an example a little closer to home:   Take a look at GRBJ.com.

Where do you start?

Analytics aren’t what they used to be. They’re better!  And you don’t have to look far to find out how. With Google Analytics, and a solid, scalable CMS, you can track your social campaigns simply by adding tracking tags to them. Among the metrics available:

  • Number of pages viewed per visit
  • Average time on site
  • Bounce rate
  • Comparison of numbers of social actions for each source
  • Social source-action combinations (type of action on one site, or actions from one site to another)
  • Number of actions on each page of your site

You can compare these behaviors with behaviors of people who aren’t using social tools on your sites for even greater insight.

The point? If you’re not using the ever-improving tools for measuring social media, you should be. And that data can help you target your audience for specific content—increasing conversions and your ROI on social media.

In an upcoming installment, we’ll give you a few examples of how.