By now, most companies have a presence on social media. Some have comprehensive strategies and believe that social media is effective for their business, while others are using social media simply because they think they should. They have no idea if it’s benefiting their organization.
Regardless of why your company started its social media presence, one thing everyone can agree on is that they want it to be successful. What often can’t be agreed on is how to measure that success.
Myth: Social media can’t be measured
Many people think it’s impossible to truly measure social media’s return on investment. Others know it’s possible but simply don’t know how. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Not convinced? Here are five reasons to measure ROI:
- Prove social media effectiveness to organization.
- Identify what messaging resonates with audiences.
- Gain feedback from customers and potential customers.
- Understand what aspects of your marketing strategy are working and what you should alter.
- Obtain a unique insight into what motivates your customers and potential customers.
How to set SMART goals
The first step in measuring social media ROI is defining your objective. The main problem with social media objectives is they tend to be overly broad. The key is to make sure your social media objective is SMART:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timed
You should easily be able to state your SMART social media objective in one sentence. For example, a SMART social media objective may be to increase positive conversations by 10 percent on Facebook by Dec. 31.
Determine what metrics to measure
Social media measurement has come a long way — it’s not just about counting the amount of likes and followers. In fact, all followers are not created equal. A truly engaged follower can be worth more than hundreds of unengaged followers. What qualifies engaged followers?
- Are truly interested in what your company has to say.
- View you as an industry thought leader and visit your social media pages for the latest resources.
- Are customers or potential customers.
- Help your content be seen by a larger audience.
Engaged followers or engagement rates are an example of a metric that’s beneficial to companies across the board. Other social media metrics that are applicable to most companies include:
- Reach: the number of unique people who have seen your content (in other words, your audience).
- Impressions: The number of times content was shown on someone’s newsfeed.
- Engagements: Clicks, likes, comments, shares/clicks, mentions, replies, retweets, favorites, etc.
- Demographics: Is your audience who you want it to be (look at age, gender and geography)?
- Engagement Rate: Measures what percentage of your audience engaged with your content.
Tracking conversions is another key way to measure your social media success. A conversion is when someone completes a desired action. Depending on what your SMART objective is, those conversions may include social referral traffic to your website, newsletter subscriptions and webinar sign ups.
Keep track of the above metrics on a monthly basis, and look for trends on what posts are engaging your audience the most. It may be a certain topic, or it may be a type of post such as a question, video or link. Your reporting can be as simple as a spreadsheet. There are many tools of various budgets that will automate this for you.
Social media isn’t free
You often hear people talk about social media as “free,” but, like any marketing channel, time and resources must be devoted to social media to be successful. You need to have the staff to develop unique and engaging content, as well as monitor networks, build a community and measure results. This can be done in house or outsourced. Another aspect to consider when planning your social media budget is social advertising. It’s becoming harder and harder to build a large fan base and reach the masses without spending a little money.
At the end of the day, it’s worth the time and resources to devote to social media to ensure its success. Social media has become engrained in our day-to-day lives. If you want to reach people where they already are, it’s time to take a more sophisticated approach to social media by setting objectives, creating a strategy and measuring your results to ensure you stay on the right track.
With more than 10 years of experience in marketing, Lindsey Congeni is the social media director at Constructive Communication Inc. Prior to joining CCI, she was the social media director for one of the Midwest’s largest digital marketing agencies where she developed social media strategies for dozens of large companies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.