Social Media Marketing ROI: Measuring Success
It’s simple enough to track the number of readers viewing your newsletters and sharing your tweets, posts and articles. It’s exciting to see that your efforts are landing well and that your audience is engaged by the content you’re circulating and the social media presence that you’ve established for your business. But how does that drive your business forward? How do you measure the impact of your social media marketing efforts?
Two core benefits of social media marketing are that these initiatives stand to strengthen brand awareness and build audiences across platforms. According to a report compiled by Social Media Examiner: “87% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. Increased traffic was the second major benefit, with 78% reporting positive results. Those top two benefits have remained virtually unchanged for 4 years.”
Both outcomes are undoubtedly favorable, but what tangible results do they yield? Does increased exposure mean increased revenue? Does increased traffic lead to more paying customers or clients? How do you measure the return on your social media marketing investments?
A tricky measure
In an article he penned for AdAge, Graham Gullans explains: “The fundamental problem with social media marketing is that there is no common denominator to measure its ROI. Because of this, the effectiveness of social media has been measured haphazardly at best, and not at all in some cases.”
Social media marketing is something of a soft sell, an influence campaign. It creates a buzz, positioning your business as the expert that your followers come to count on as their source for the real low down on your subject matter. This is influential, and it matters. But measuring how it leads to business returns isn’t an exact science.
What do you call success?
What are you trying to accomplish with your social media marketing efforts? Are you aiming to refine your brand identity, amass more followers, garner leads?
These targets, or key performance indicators (KPI), point to the success of your efforts. Your KPIs offer a clear sense of what you’re aiming for, and measuring them stands to demonstrate whether or not you’re hitting those targets.
If you’ve designated audience growth as one of your KPIs, for example, make sure you’re tracking and reporting on the number of new followers you generate on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
What you designate as your KPIs has value to you and your business. It’s your means for positive assessment, so carefully define, track and study these indicators.
Google analytics is a free tool that helps you better understand your client base: who they are and what they favor. The company describes the strategy behind the product: “Therein lies the new marketing opportunity for brands: building a data strategy to collect and analyze the trails of data consumers create, uncover insights, and take action to boost the value of these engagements.”
If you want to see if your efforts are working, analyze the audience they’re reaching.
“All about that base”
Undoubtedly, you have devotees who champion the work that you do by offering rave reviews and sharing your updates and posts. Reach out to them. Find out how they learned about you. Get that anecdotal, person-on-the-street perspective about how your efforts are having an impact.
If you’re a real estate agent, for example, posting pictures of yourself at the local beer fest, garden party, school fundraiser or library book fair on social media sites that people in your community frequent is a good way to generate buzz. People in your neighborhood who are plotting a move are likely to take note, especially when you’re also posting updates about local listing that you’re managing to turn quickly.
Check in with your new clients and customers, and find out how they found you. Learn from them, so that you know what’s working and use those insights to build your plans.
You may also consider creating a response device, such as a quick survey for your followers. Find out what efforts are hitting the mark, and track those. It’s old fashioned and hands on, but it gives you the answers you need, so that you can keep building your strategy around what works.
Social media marketing is all about engagement and relationship-building. The reason it’s powerful is also the reason it’s hard to measure.