Measuring the ROI of social media has been a bugbear for corporate bean counters ever since it was thrust into marketing mix. Digital marketers have long seen the potential to profit from social networks, but the problem has always been: “How can I show my boss the benefits of this lovely technology?”.
The solution lies with choosing the right metrics by which to measure it and you only know what these should be – once you’ve bottomed out your objectives. Essentially, by identifying your objectives and tracking certain metrics you can collate hard evidence of how your social content either directly leads to positive outcomes, or correlates with certain trends.
Paint your target
By thinking about how social media fits into your firm and the wider media strategy, it should be fairly clear what the testing parameters will be.
Among the areas that firms may want to measure are visibility, share of voice online, influence, popularity, leads, engagement or simply market research responses.
Once you know what you want to measure, you can pick a metric that will reflect the outcomes of your social content. To do this, you should monitor your social usage and compare it to the statistics garnered from tracking software around the time and in the months after.
Count the bullseyes
So which figures will you be looking at? Here are a few examples:
- If you are trying to improve your visibility, you could look at the number of searches, quantity of web traffic and social mentions you have
- Check the number of followers or subscribers you have to monitor popularity
- Influence – a tricky one to define, but if you look at how many times your posts are being shared rather than simply read, you can conclude how much influence you are building
- To see how the offline-online relationship is developing, give customers a code on social media that they can use in an offline way and see how many people use it. For online impact, enable campaign tracking to see who is using a social link to reach your site
Recording one of these figures on its own is hardly ground-breaking. The key is to look at how these statistics fluctuate as you post different styles of content over time, allowing you to see what produces the most significant boost and giving you a real indication of the success of a project.
What about the bottom line?
A great way to check this is to include ‘checkout questions’ – wherein a customer is asked after they have bought something about where they heard about the product.
This is also where your combination metrics come in, as you can explore how changing sales figures correlate with social media activity – but remember that social media is all about nurturing, so check sales results in the long term.
For example, you may notice that a month where the number of re-tweets was high was also a great sales month. Your ROI measurement relies on extensive tracking and detailed analysis of consumer behaviour.
In this way, you can produce figures for exactly what sort of impact your social media usage is having. However, make sure to make a note of any standout success stories, as sometimes an anecdotal example of user engagement can swing the scales at a company meeting.
To read about the top five social media challenges companies face and how to conquer them, download our free social media white paper.