By Erica Ayotte, social media manager at Constant Contact

Thousands of UK small businesses are now using Facebook to market themselves online but as adoption increases we see SMEs asking the same question again and again:‘How on earth do I measure the value of my business’s Facebook presence?’

To be honest, it’s not an easy question to answer and there is no magical measurement tool which will give you a giant thumbs up or thumbs down on your Facebook Page — social media is more subtle and nuanced than that. And if you are in that camp, don’t fret — you aren’t alone.

We recently conducted research, which found that two thirds (66 per cent) of British small business decision makers using Facebook admit to not using any form of analytics. The main reasons cited by respondents are that they don’t have time or that it’s too complicated and hard to understand. Even among the 26 per cent of respondents that are measuringresults and success, 40 per cent are looking for better ways to do so.

However,there are some guidelines and ideas that will give you better idea of how to ensure you’re looking for the right things when evaluating your Facebook marketing strategy and ensuring that you’re making that channel work for your business. For this post, I wanted to share the first five steps we recommend taking to not only track your progress on Facebook, but to ensure you’re tracking the right metrics in the first place.

Step one: relativity

The first thing to remember is scale — you don’t have to have thousands of fans and hundreds of Likes on every single post to consider your Facebook presence asuccess. At Constant Contact, we like to remind small businesses that the 90/8/2 Rule is a reliable gauge of success.

This rule says that, on average only two per cent of fans will engage with your Page regularly, whilst eight per cent will chime in occasionally. The other ninety per cent will watch but stay silent. These numbers stay pretty consistent regardless of your community size. If you have 100 fans on Facebook and you’re regularly getting one or two likes per post — then chances are you’re doing a pretty good job.

The other point to remember is that the fans that do engage with your Page may be among some of your most valuable customers. Not only do those customers do some of your marketing for you by making your brand visible to their network, engaged customers are much more likely to become repeat customers.

Step two: why are we here?

To measure how well you’re doing on Facebook you need to be clear about what your business goals are and how you want Facebook to impact those goals. This varies depending on your company and what sort of business you run — for some it’s direct sales leads, for others it’s increasing awareness of their business or it could be all about ‘wowing’ their customer base. All of these are valid goals, but defining yours at the outset will help you set your Facebook marketing strategy and measure its success later.

Step three: non-moving goal posts

The next thing to do is think about what success looks like — I suggest setting three key targets and focus on achieving those. It could be a number of different goals, for example website referrals (leads), brand impressions (awareness), or referrals generated (customer marketing). Notice I didn’t list total fan count. This stat is one that people tend to focus on, and while a large fan count can look impressive, a large number of fans does not help your business if you can’t mobilise that fan base to do what you need them to do.

Your goals could also be more general things like ‘in the first three months have two customers recommend my business on Facebook’ or ‘encourage five of my Facebook fans to visit my store.’ Knowing specifically the critical few success indicators for your business will give your Facebook strategy focus and save you from wasting your time on activities that don’t matter.

Step four: on your marks

After you determine what your two or three key metrics are, the first thing you need to do is benchmark where you are now. That way you have your starting point and will be able to track your progress in the coming months. In some cases, you may be starting from zero, but that’s okay — you’ll have nowhere to go but up!

You’ll be able to find a lot of this information by clicking through the tabs on the Insights section that sits on the top of your Page. This will include metrics such as reach, location, people talking about your Page or engaged users.

Step five: tracking

Next, track your Facebook marketing activities against your metrics. In other words, make sure that you know what’s driving the ups and downs. Consider this your testing period and try out different variables to see what works best for you. There are plenty of variables to play with — some examples are: the time of day you post, the length of your post, what key words you include or how often you post.

After two or three months take a look at your progress and determine the activities that brought you the most success. For example, you may find that image-based posts got the most awareness for your business because they were shared more often. Or you may find that asking for referrals on Facebook works best a day or two after a customer appreciation post.

You also may find that you need to re-assess what your goals are. For example, you may find that for your business, Facebook isn’t a great place to source new leads, but that it works great for customer marketing. Decide whether or not your goals were relevant and useful for your business and adjust your business focus if you need to.

Getting your Facebook marketing just right is a matter of testing, measuring, and iterating on what works. And it’s important to remember that what works now might not work always and forever. That’s why it’s so important to track activity against results, and to be able to pivot quickly when necessary.

I’d love to hear your feedback so drop me a line at @inthekisser / @CTCTuk or at our Facebook Page here.