Marketing ROI has traditionally been measured like this:
Return on Investment (%) = (Net profit / Marketing Costs) × 100
but many social media activities cannot be effectively measured using a transactional formula. So how is social media marketing success really measured? In a nutshell, there are three key measures to monitor: Reach, Engagement and Conversion.
Reach – How Many People Did Your Message Impact?
The first measure is ‘Reach’ – the number of people impacted with the business’ social media content. If it is being ignored by everyone in the social media world, something must be being done wrong and it will never produce results. Reach will give the business a good understanding of how attractive its social media content is to its target audience. Examples of Reach metrics to track include:
- Likes on the business Facebook page
- Followers on Twitter
- Views and Subscribers on the business YouTube channel
- Visitors to the business’ blog
- Connections on LinkedIn
Track of these statistics can be kept manually. In addition, social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, all have analytics reports which one can track. Third-party services like Klout or Radian6 can also be used to track Reach.
Engagement – How Many People Interacted with the Message?
After gathering an understanding of the business’ Reach, the next step is for the business to see if anyone cared enough about its message to actually do something with it. Measuring ‘Engagement,’ will give the business access to this vital information. To engage people with social media, valuable content that inspires people to act needs to be created. If the Engagement level is low, the business would need to take a critical look at how to improve the content. Examples of ‘Engagement’ metrics to track include:
- Shares on Facebook and LinkedIn
- Comments on Facebook and LinkedIn posts
- Retweets, Mentions and Direct Messages on Twitter
- Ratings on YouTube videos
- Clicks on links in social media posts
- Comments on blog posts
Just as with Reach, Engagement can be measured by keeping track of these statistics manually or the business can leverage third-party services to track these metrics.
Conversion – How Many People Took Action Because of the Message?
Finally, it’s time to measure the business-building impact of the social media marketing efforts. ‘Conversion’ will reveal how many people took the next step to enter the business’ lead generation funnel and join its marketing database. A critical best practice for social media marketing success is to use the business Website as the ‘hub’ of its social media content – always linking back to content on the Website in social networking posts. In addition to this content, the Website should offer content upsells and lead generation offers to ‘convert’ anonymous visitors into named leads for the sales process. Examples of ‘Conversion’ metrics to track include:
- Online sales
- Online lead generation form completions
- Webinar registrations
- Registrations for content downloads
- Phone-in leads
A number of free resources are available to effectively track Conversion. Google Analytics can be integrated into the business’ Website to track the site activity. The business can leverage ‘Campaign tracking’ in Google Analytics and build trackable links for each of the business’ social media posts. These links are usually way too long to include in social media posts, so, a URL shortening service like ‘bitly’ may be used to shorten them. Finally, setting up ‘goal tracking’ in Google Analytics will track all of the business’ online conversion activities (e.g., downloads, registrations, etc.). This will close the loop allowing the business to track ROI from its social media marketing campaigns.
Measuring social media ROI isn’t always easy. Building a brand and improving customer service may not show up directly in analytics, but these “soft” metrics can have a major impact on the bottom line.
Sources and Related Reading