Social Media: Measurement & ROI

“How do I measure ROI for my social media activity?”

Social media is uncharted waters for a lot of us. With new opportunities and communication channels, come new challenges. You may have read our post on integration, which helps us to understand how social media can be a support to our existing marketing efforts. Another stumbling block for businesses is how we can begin to track our efforts when it comes to social media. And unfortunately, because there is not yet a standard for social media measurement, many assume it isn’t possible. This may come from a lack of understanding of how to effectively use social media to support business goals. While there may not be one trusted method of measurement, there are definitely several different approaches that can work—and work well—to help a company determine the success of their social media activity.

Before you attempt measurement though, there are a few important things about social media to consider:

Social media is the vehicle, not the purpose.
Being active in social media is not enough; it’s what you do once you create that account that is important. Your company’s Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest accounts are just the avenues you are using to relate to your customers and publics. You have to look more specifically at the social activities that you are engaged in; your engagement with audiences, your content sharing, or your customer service response.

What other ROI do you measure?
Stop and think for a minute, do you measure the ROI of handouts, or business cards? A Facebook fan or Twitter follower represents potential, the same as handing out a business card. You can’t exactly measure the value of that potential. Email marketing measurement also works by these rules. You usually don’t ask about the ROI for your e-newsletter, you ask for the conversion rate, the click-through or the visibility.

What are your objectives?
You can’t measure the ROI for social media without first knowing what your objectives are. What are you shooting for? Is it brand awareness, engaging existing customers, short-term sales? Or are you trying to complement a promotional campaign, encourage word of mouth, or spread news and important info about your business? Perhaps you’re just trying to increase your searchability.

Now that you’ve thought through some of these essentials, you can move on. With your goals and activities crystal clear—you can figure out what form of measurement makes the most sense to track your efforts.

Measurement Method.
Find your form of measurement, something that you can track. Will your social media efforts increase your foot traffic or your sales? Do you hope to see an increase in web traffic? Use your own language, and base your measurements on your own specific goals. Depending on your goals, the truth is there are plenty of trackables…

  • Website traffic
  • Foot traffic
  • Increased sales
  • Conversion rate
  • Fans or members
  • Positive customer mentions
  • Page views
  • Referrals
  • New cliental/relationships
  • Revenue
  • Contributors
  • Posts or comments
  • Company mentions
  • Reduced returns
  • Reduced volume call (if you’re using social media as a customer service channel)

And, as you are evaluating the success your social media campaign or efforts, Forrester Research offers up four main factors to guide you:

  1. Financial.
    Did your marketing cost decrease or sales increase?
  2. Brand.
    Have perceptions and/or brand awareness improved?
  3. Risk Management.
    Are you better prepared to handle crisis or issues that affect brand reputation because you now have a direct outlet to your customers?
  4. Digital.
    Has your brand enhanced its digital assets?

It doesn’t stop there!

When it comes to your business, there is so much more that social media can help with. It might be closing business, forming new partnerships and relationships, reducing marketing costs, improving your ranking in search engines, or helping your company to recruit new talent. An overwhelming amount of companies have said social media has been a successful recruiting method for them.

After you’re done thinking through how you will track your efforts, and in what ways social media can help grow your business, try to think out of the box as well. Use your social media activity and results to learn abut your audiences and then apply those findings to the way you do business. There is an opportunity here to learn about your company.

Some of us are better with examples… Let’s say a Certified Financial Planner who runs his own Facebook page shares various financial tips ranging from retirement planning, to savings growth, to investment advice, to paying off debt responsibility. Now, that is a lot of very useful information. If this CFP is posting these tips on his Facebook page, he may see that he has a much greater interest (more comments and likes) on his investment advice than anything else. When he goes to publish his own book in two years, he’ll know to include more chapters on investing than on debt-payment, or retirement planning. He now has audience buy-in and a gauge on their preferences because he gathered it from his Facebook activity.

Don’t underestimate the opportunity to learn from your social media audience.

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