We all want to measure social media’s return on investment (ROI); but, because it is rarely the last marketing touch point before a conversion (sale), it may be hard to accurately track its direct impact on your marketing efforts.
In measuring your firm’s social media marketing ROI, assumptions may be made because there is often an impression that social media is “free.” However, there is an investment being made—the time your team spends working on social media-related activities, creating networking and social media engagement opportunities, and online interactions, such as commenting on blogs, especially for high-profile members of the firm or for brand marketing itself.
Before you can begin measuring your ROI, set clear goals and expectations for your firm’s social media strategy. Without this step, it will be difficult—nearly impossible—to effectively measure and know if you’re making any progress via social media efforts.
Your firm’s goal is to increase, by 10 percent, the number of employee benefit plan audit clients it has from Q4 of 2012 to Q4 of 2013.
In that statement, there is a clear goal, with a defined increase, followed by an actionable time frame. The marketer’s role then is to determine the social media platforms, content, and context needed to help drive that increase. Then, he/she must track that activity through a variety of metrics.
Tip: Metrics and numbers alone will not give you the full picture of your social media success or ROI measurement. Metrics are used to provide you with trends and help you to correlate them to activities within your firm.
What Should Be Measured?
The number of statistics that may be measured with social media channels is staggering, so be careful not to choose so many that you lose sight of the true goals and how your marketing efforts affect those goals. Below are a few high-profile platforms and metrics to consider. Many of the same metrics could be applied to other social media platforms as well:
- Twitter: The number of followers on the account(s), plus the daily measurement of:
- Outbound updates
- Inbound tweets
- Outbound @ replies
- Number of re-tweets
- Number of click-thrus to your website using Urchen Tracking Module (UTM) links (see below for more on this)
- Facebook: Fans are not the only story with this platform. Also consider the daily measurement of:
- Volume of updates
- Number of likes
- Number of likes pre-update
- Number of comments
- Number of comments per update
- Number of click-thrus to your site using UTM links
- Other activity, such as discussions, downloads, events, RSVPs, etc.
- LinkedIn: There are analytics tools for both business pages and individual pages. Consider tracking these metrics:
- Company page views + unique visitors to the page
- Quantity of followers
- Connections – the quantity of unique connections for an individual
- Messages and invitations on personal accounts
- Top keywords used to search before landing on your company page or profile
- Google Plus: Though relatively new, this social media platform has over 390 million members. Consider tracking:
- Number of followers
- “+” name mentions
- Brand mentions
- Content shares, content +1s, link shares, and link +1s
- Google Plus links to website content, which you can track through your site’s analytics
- Traffic via referring sites
- Blogs: In addition to website metrics, such as page clicks, consider adding these metrics to your collection:
- Daily visits
- Unique visitors per post
- Comments per day and post
- Inbound links to your site via your blog
- Video views and downloads
- Audio/podcast views and downloads
UTM Link Builders for Tracking
Using UTM tags on specific social media efforts that you’re tracking is important when it comes to reviewing analytics. Not only will it help you to identify the “first-touch” point via social, you can also track how many leads came from each source.
Here is an example for a conference promoted on Twitter:
In this example, the social media source is Twitter. The medium is social media. The campaign is the conference name. When someone clicks on that link, and you’re using analytics tools, like Google Analytics®, you will be able to track the number of clicks on that exact link.
There are a number of free UTM generators to help you create effective UTM links, including Google’s URL Builder
Social Media Management
Once you’ve decided to take the leap to leverage social media, tracking all the activity can become cumbersome. To help you oversee the accounts, leverage the power of social media management (SMM) tools like the ones listed below. They allow for:
- Posting content across multiple platforms at one time.
- Tracking and monitoring social engagement activity, such as replies, comments, and more.
- Scheduling posts for future release.
- Managing multiple accounts.
This 2013 SMM comparison chart gives an overview of the top social media management tools that are either free or available on a pay-by-month plan and some of the features available on each.
Understanding the power, reach, and analytics around social media takes time, practice, and precision. In the end, analysis is key when validating your firm’s social media activity. Without it, you’re just hoping for the best and you may not fully understand how it’s impacting your firm’s bottom line.
Do you or does someone in your firm have questions about social media analytics? If so, below are some resources that might help you get started, or contact me for help.
- The Value of a “Like” Calculator: http://valueofalike.com/
- Social Networking Media ROI Calculator: http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/online-marketing-strategy/social-media-marketing/social-networking-media-roi-calculator/
- 6 Marketing Metrics Your CEO Actually Cares About http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34054/The-6-Marketing-Metrics-Your-CEO-Actually-Cares-About-Cheat-Sheet.aspx
- Social Mention – a social media search engine that searches for keywords on social platforms, like blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, etc.
- Top 10 Social Media Dashboard tools to manage social media activity
- Blog trending tools include Google Advanced Blog Search
- Tracking the KPIs of Social Media http://www.seomoz.org/blog/tracking-the-roi-of-social-media
About the Author
Becky Livingston is the President of Penheel Marketing, a marketing firm specializing in social and digital marketing. Speaker, author, and trainer, Becky has more than 20 years of marketing and communication experience in the engineering, technology, and financial services industries. Connect with Becky or her firm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, or Pinterest.