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drawing social networkToday’s “Ask the Expert” column features Adam Selig, COO and Managing Partner of Lumentus Social. Selig says forget likes and comments and focus on this social media metric instead.

Q: Likes and comments aside, what is social media’s most valuable metric?
When your social media pages aren’t receiving a lot of likes and comments, it’s easy to lose interest. However, if your goal in maintaining a social media page is to raise awareness about your services and generate leads, it might be time to stop worrying about likes and comments. Instead, there is one metric that is less spoken about, and may be your most valuable social key performance indicator—traffic referrals to your website.

Brokers and agents establish a social media presence to strengthen their reputation and engage with both current and potential customers. Social media platforms help you establish your credibility and reach people who want to know more about your business. Likes and comments are not a good measure of those goals because they rarely translate into new client opportunities.

Instead, it’s time to start paying attention to the number of people that see your posts and visit your website.

A Personal Perspective
Think about how you interact with social media. If you see an anniversary photo from a friend, you may like the post or leave a passing comment. But if that same friend provides a link to an interesting article about new restaurants in town, you will likely click the link. Once you click through, you’re less likely to go back to Facebook and like the actual post that your friend shared. Instead, your friend’s post drove you to engage with an article, but you didn’t contribute to the post’s social media engagement score.

A number of recent studies have demonstrated social media’s increasing importance in Web referrals. Shareaholic analyzed over 200,000 websites and found that the eight largest social media sites drove almost 30 percent of site traffic, which is nearly double the amount of traffic referred by social media sites in 2013. Facebook is the leader, driving 22 percent of that traffic. Social traffic also tends to be more cost-effective than paid search or other forms of advertising. In one case, social traffic was measured to be 6.5 times more effective than banner ads.

Working with a national real estate brand with over 250,000 followers across all channels, we’ve seen first-hand the effects of a strong social media presence. While the brand’s audience continues to grow at industry-leading engagement levels, we’ve been surprised by how closely their numbers have mirrored Shareaholic’s findings. Over 37 percent of their overall website traffic came from the top social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+). In comparison, search referrals only drove 24 percent of their traffic.

The Takeaway
It’s time for real estate professionals to rethink how they measure the value of their social media efforts. Focus on increasing web leads instead of just looking to drive engagement.

Ready to get started? Here are a few additional recommendations to make social a website driver for your business:

Google offers free tools, like Google Analytics, to easily monitor website referrals. Be sure you’ve properly set them up to better understand how people are finding your website.

Use Facebook Insights, another free tool, to understand your audience. Write blog posts that match their interests, and share those posts on your social media sites.

Use social advertising to increase the reach of your content and generate more website referrals. Tailor your advertising around the content of your posts to reach the audience members most likely to engage with your posts.

Like all good marketing, it takes a strategic approach to yield real results. Social media is often discounted because it cannot generate leads, but our experience shows that perception to be false. Social, done right, can be an invaluable driver of leads to your website.

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