Evidence Based Social Media?

There has been a bit of hubbub in the social media world after a study on professional usage of social media was published by small business community, Mantra last week. Looking at 1,200 of their users, Mantra has concluded that while small businesses are beginning to spend more time using social media, they still don’t see enough value to dedicate exclusive resources to it, with 61% of those surveyed saying they see no return on investment from their social media efforts.

Clearly, if your passion (and career) center around social media marketing and use, studies like this are not things you want circulating the Internet. Social media marketer and blogger, Mark Schaffer, issued a response to Mantra’s report, citing a narrow sample group among its issues. Looking beyond this particular study, the value of social media is called into question quite often. Yes, the effect of social media outreach can be difficult to see, but it is certainly there. Which begs the question, how do you define and measure the value of social media?

In my opinion, the operative word in the statement above is YOU. How do YOU define the value of social media use? There is not a set formula for measuring social success, this is as unique as your online brand. A great post from the Prana PT Blog eloquently points out that “price is what you pay, value is what you get.” So, what do you want to get out of your work online? Do you want to connect with colleagues and collaborate on tough cases? Is it a means of driving referrals? Attracting new patients? Staying in touch with existing ones? Do you simply enjoy blogging as a therapeutic outlet to discuss issues in healthcare?

As people of science, PTs are used to monitoring outcomes. The Therapydia team suggests you look at social media use no differently. Whatever variable you find value in is what you should attempt to measure. Don’t worry about industry standards or “acceptable” number of likes and retweets (unless of course, you find value here). Much like the scientific method, your analysis should depend on the question your are attempting to answer.

Perhaps five comments from colleagues on a blog post is your indicator that the time spent was well worth it. What made people comment? How can you replicate this in the future? If you spend X hours a week maintaining your clinic’s Facebook and Twitter page do you have any system in place to determine if those hours are well spent? Do more hours yield more results or is there a point of diminishing return? This could be as easy a surveying new evals to see if they found you online. Maybe you’re a seasoned super user and you need a social CMR system to step up your game. Whatever result you are looking for, tools and methods exist to help you monitor and improve your strategy to get the most out your investment.

Find the results of the aforementioned study below. Have you found ROI on your social sweat? Do you have a method to your online madness?


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