Top 5 Tips for Measuring Social Media ROI

September 10, 2013

Sixty-one percent of small businesses say they don’t see the ROI on social media, yet nearly half continue to spend more time on it. Why? Because it’s what you’re supposed to do – right? Not exactly. Giving you both control and third party validation, social media can be a phenomenal tool, but only when you make it work for your business.  Here are our top five ways to measure social media ROI:

 1.     Have a goal

Having clear goals is the foundation of every successful marketing campaign, yet many businesses start using social media with no goal other than keeping up. Just as bad: making your only goal to increase business.

While increasing the bottom line is always fundamental, you should approach social media more directly. Are you trying to increase your customer base or better the experience of existing customers? This changes the way you measure your outreach. In the former, you can measure number of users or look for an uptick in traffic at a physical shop; with the latter, you may look at a customer satisfaction survey, how many users re-up a contract, or at the positive interaction within the channels.

It’s important to set your priorities and make your goals as specific as possible. Maybe your main goal is to drive traffic to your website (you can measure that!) or maybe it’s to get people to sign up for your newsletter (you can measure that too!).

2.     Have a budget

Yes, being on social media is free. However, that doesn’t mean that leading a successful social media campaign is a cheap endeavor. Social media takes sustained time and energy in a field that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Can you afford to give discounts or giveaways? Is it worth it to buy a program to create killer graphics to share? You can’t answer these questions without a budget. More importantly, social media can be a drain on your time, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing, so you should consider the cost of hiring help against your personal limitations. Once you create a budget, you can actually measure the cost of your campaign – including time and resources.

 3.     Make your own metrics

Once you’ve decided your goal, take a look at the metrics available to you. Google Analytics is a free software that can track loads of things. Facebook has robust analytics available, and there are oodles of Twitter programs to measure reach, but at the end of the day it is likely that you will need to do some of your own number crunching. Why? Because those programs are made for everyone, but not everyone has your goals. Furthermore, many analytics programs only measure a few months back, if that, so for long-term analysis it is critical to keep your own numbers. In your own spreadsheet, match interactions to any major campaigns or changes in the way you handle your account. This is assuming, of course, that you are not interested in paying large sums of money for fabulous and technically robust software programs like Infusionsoft, Tableau, Eloqua, etc. that measure everything. Depending on your business, it might be worth investing in a comprehensive solution. But for most of us, we make it out to be a lot harder than it is. The more you can prioritize and be specific about your goals, the easier it will be to track your analytics.

4.     Know your channels

There’s a lot of pressure to keep up with what’s hot in social media, but before jumping at the latest trend, go back to #1 – do you know how this channel can help you better achieve your goal? Not every channel is relevant to every business, especially if you don’t have the time or funds to manage it well. For instance, if you can’t put together a good video, then having a Youtube channel with a few poorly made clips on your stellar business may hurt your image more than help. Look at your client base and goals and determine where you can make the most impact within your time and budget restraints.

 5.     Don’t focus too much on your competition’s numbers

Like you would do in sales and traffic, it is important to keep up with what your competitors are doing on social media. It will give you a better sense of the known possibilities in your industry and help you set goals if you aren’t at the same level. However, focusing too much on having more likes than a competitor isn’t a good approach

Many businesses think if social media isn’t working, they should simply push more content or copy what their competitor is doing with their own brand.  The problem is that publishing too much information and focusing too much on your own brand turns your social media channel into a virtual street corner megaphone – and no one voluntarily listens to that kind of annoyance. Focus on what makes your business special, and don’t be afraid to share things that you think your customers will like, even if they aren’t directly related to your product. Look at your interaction instead of just follows and likes – are people happy with the content? If so, your following will naturally increase.

Our last piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to ask your customers their opinion. Ask online, ask in the shop, ask in a survey. Do people like what you’re doing? If not, what should you change? Once you open that line of communication, you’ll be able to best see where and how to make an impact.

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