The short answer is yes, you can measure social media ROI. If you explore this question in a little more detail however, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that when it comes to social media, ROI is not frequently going to be directly financial.
But as we know that there is much more to marketing than direct financial return, and with many brands already reaping the benefits of social media (and many feeling the pain of jumping in without consideration), there’s something about social media that brings a whole new dimension to the world of marketing. And when we refer to social media, we don’t just mean Facebook advertising, we’re talking about customer interaction, real conversations and relationship building.
How can you measure social media ROI?
Measuring social media ROI is a much discussed topic, and a topic that has historically been difficult to achieve consensus upon, not least because business objectives when approaching social media can vary quite significantly.
So what are the options?
As marketers, it’s numbers – quantifiable results, that secure budgets and with a largely qualitative medium, you’ve got to work hard to prove its worth. There are a number of things you can do and online resources that are available to assist you in putting together a convincing report of your social media success:
– Start with the obvious
Before you do anything else, make sure that you don’t forget to monitor the obvious stats. They’re easy to get hold of and tell you a lot about your standing in the social media world. Start with stats such as Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Flickr contacts, YouTube friends – working on building your presence in these popular communities is a good starting point if you’re new to social media marketing.
– Monitor brand buzz
Keep an eye on how frequently and in what context your brand is mentioned on social media sites – you can do this by using a number of the Twitter applications that are now available – setting up a search in Tweetdeck to monitor mentions of your brand name is a great start.
– Analyse the stats
Just as you monitor your website for traffic levels, unique visitors, time on site, bounce rates etc (and if you don’t, you should!), any reputable analytics package will also let you monitor your referring sites – sites that are sending you traffic. This lets you monitor how much traffic you are getting from social media sites. If you want to be sure the figures you’re getting are accurate, take an average pre-social media campaign and compare this to your stats whilst on-campaign. If you have a more advanced package, then you’ll be able to track right from referred site through to conversion – giving you a quantifiable and directly attributable financial result from your social media campaign.
– More quantitative measurement
There are also an increasing number of online measurement tools that can help to justify your social media spend and give you a guide as to the effectiveness of your social media efforts. A couple of examples of such sites are:
– PostRank – gives you statistics on your news / blog feed and ranks popularity based upon how often and where they are shared on social media sites
– Xinu – a goldmine of information providing a huge range of stats on your website from backlinks through to social bookmarks and much more. Best used as a guideline and benchmark to improve your online presence.
So the fact is, you can measure social media ROI, but it needs to be relevant to your objectives and KPI’s. Without relevancy in your social media activity, there are limited gains to be made.
When deciding on what you should measure, give consideration to the following three key metrics:
– Outputs – share of voice, tone of voice, site visits etc
– Outcomes – behaviour change, attitude change, increased brand reach
– Business results – the £££!
Embrace social media, enjoy social media and engage with social media. Given the opportunity to engage on a level never before possible, why would any marketer say no?!
Senior Vice President,
Global Practice Leader – Digital
Bluhalo Ltd – Part of the GyroHSR Network