In trying to quantify social media performance people are applying “old media” principles (such as impressions and reach) to new media capabilities and the industry is increasingly problematizing these metrics, calling them ambiguous and subjective, at best. Does metrics like reach and followers really matter and how do you actually prove your worth in social media, as a marketer?
There are countless ways of approaching social media ROI and no universal metrics that’s applicable for everyone. Social media ROI is slow and requires patience, but can definitely have an impact on your bottom-line. When measuring your social media ROI your focus should also be pointed towards quality rather than quantity as well as truly value adding metrics rather than buying into simple solutions such as impressions and reach. ALWAYS align your social media-measuring with the business goals.
Perhaps your goal is to be thought-leader within your industry? Then measure how many times your posts get shared, how many newsletter signups or whitepaper downloads you have, how much earned media you get, how you’re doing compared to your competitors and how often you’re referenced by influential social media channels or users.
If your company is focused on customer retention your social media goal might be to make your customer service more effective, less costly and more personal with Twitter. Measure the issues resolved or resolution rate of complaints and support issues. You can even measure how much the use of social media lowers the number of customer service related mails you send or inbound phone calls that you receive. Keep in mind that you can use your Twitter customer service as a content hub for FAQ’s which in turn can make your customer service even more effective.
If the business focuses on sales or lead generation, your attention is best spent looking into social traffic to the website, registered users, new CRM additions and conversions or direct sales. You can even break this down and measure the average value of each purchase and see how your social media affects this.
If your focus is less bottom line and more brand awareness, you can look at the number of brand evangelists, the number of influential followers,the number of customer reviews, online ratings, the sentiment for your brand, share of voice and traffic to the website.
If your goal simply is to attract traffic to your website, and let the website do its job once they’re there, you should set up extensive reports in your Google Analytics and delve into analyzing what drives people to the different pages, study the bounce rates and other behavior.
There is no easy universal way of looking at social media ROI, but instead of wasting time on metrics that doesn’t make a real difference, set your KPI’s according to your business goals and make sure you only measure what’s important for you to reach those objectives.
Most importantly don’t base your decisions on assumptions or instinct. Continuously measure your social media communication and make sure you regulate your goals continuously. And don’t forget to ask yourself how you can use the data and insight that you get from adjust your social media efforts.