The Internet is full of blogs and sites telling you how powerful social media is in conjunction with the rest of your digital marketing efforts. While this claim has plenty of stats to back it up, how do you know you’re on the right track with your brand’s social network interactions? Is it even possible to measure the return on investment (ROI) for this hard work? To answer these questions, and ensure you get the most out of this part of your digital marketing strategy, let’s spend some time breaking down the subject and honing in on the particulars of tracking social media ROI.
Answering the Big Question
Of course, it’s hard to take this discussion any farther without addressing the big question on everyone’s minds: Can you measure social media ROI? As Christian Arno of ClickZ points out, the answer is clearly yes – and no. While this might seem confusing, the dual nature of this answer helps explain the dichotomy surrounding the topic of social media ROI.
On one hand, there are plenty of metrics that help paint a very clear and defined picture of where your social outreach program is heading and where it currently stands. Raw sales shifts and follower numbers, as well as the shares, likes, and favorites your posts generate, all fit this billing. However putting a tangible number on consumer goodwill and other subjective movements in your overarching brand awareness isn’t exactly easy.
Understanding the Measuring Process
Even so, measuring what you can is still well worth your time as it provides the crucial data necessary to pinpoint trends and shifts in your brand awareness. To start, the data depends entirely on the platforms you utilize. As Debra Eckerling of Social Media Examiner explains in her look at gathering appropriate metrics, everything from your preferred website domain provider to which social networks you interact on can change how you gather this data.
Thankfully, Google offers a free analytics tool that can help track traffic and activity on your page. As for the numbers coming from your favorite social networks, Facebook offers up built-in page interaction tools that tell the general story of your profile, as well as how individual posts and shares fare among your audience members. If you’re operating on a variety of platforms, incorporating an aggregation tool, like Hootsuite, can help keep your varied social metrics all in one place.
So now that you have access to your web traffic, historic social follower numbers, and general page activity stats, what’s next? According to Forbes Magazine, it’s time to dig in for some data analysis. While there’s no perfect equation or algorithm that factors in the aforementioned subjective portions of this process, that doesn’t mean you can’t use some simple trend analysis to uncover the true value of your social campaigns.
By comparing surges in traffic and conversions to social activity over the same time periods, you can start to generate a better understanding of what you’re receiving in return for your investment, as well as what works with your audience and which practices might need to head back to the drawing board.
Again, it’s not perfect, but the longer you incorporate this ROI measurement approach in your campaign procedure, the more accurate and effective this trend analysis will become thanks to an ever-growing pool of data. Considering how crucial social media success is to businesses of any size, the sooner you start gathering these metrics, the faster you can gain a leg up on the competition.