Social media is full of numbers, but most of the time we don't use them in any actionable way. The reason is simple: Social metrics are often too complicated to understand, and they provide few clues on how we can improve our success.

The reality is that the return on social media marketing can vary widely for each business. Some companies see quick and immediate returns, while others fail to see much of anything at all. What could the problem be? And, more important, how can we be sure that our business won't fail online?

This article looks to answer those questions by offering a few quick-and-dirty methods for gauging your online marketing strengths and weaknesses.

Through the use of these basic metrics (the data for which you are in all likelihood already gathering), you can gain insight about how you are actually performing and glean some good ideas on how you can improve performance.

We'll start by asking three key questions, and then we'll do some basic calculations to measure our success in each area:

  1. Are my efforts bringing traffic to my website?
  2. Is my social reach growing?
  3. Are people enjoying my content?

Remember, these are intended to be rough calculations that give us a general idea of success. They may not be perfect, but they will give you actionable insights you need to succeed online.

Question 1: Are my efforts bringing traffic to my website?

One of the primary reasons for any business to get involved in social media is to bring traffic to its website. Your social presence has intrinsic importance, but it means much more if it's serving that greater need. Without being obnoxious and sharing a link to your website every five minutes, you should make sure that a steady stream of traffic is flowing as a result of well-planned efforts on your social media properties.

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image of Garrett Moon

Garrett Moon is the CEO and a co-founder of marketing calendar provider CoSchedule.

LinkedIn: Garrett Moon

Twitter: @garrett_moon