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Social Media ROI: What Do You Measure?

- July 15, 2009 - 6 Comments

image“Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done there is surprise it’s not better.” – Avinash Kaushik — Analytics Evangelist, GoogleWhy is that? One factor may be that traditional measures and metrics are not easily applied to social media. Traditional measurement goes something like this:Marketing Investment = $30,000# of Leads Generated = 1000Cost per Lead = $30Social Media Measurement can look something like this:Blog Comments + Conversation + LinkedIn x Twitter = SuccessYou’re probably thinking…”uhmmm… What?! How can you possibly measure a conversation?” Social media requires a tweak to the way we think about marketing measurement. We need to consider that indirect influence generated via social media can often lead to sales. It’s just a different sort of measurement. So here’s the question — What do you want to measure? The “social” more qualitative aspect or the “media” which provides the quantitative metric. My answer is measure what is important and relevant to your business goals. Following are some examples, but first some recommendations on setting and using what you will measure.1) Know which needles you want to move and how to track that. 2) Measure the metrics that matter. Choose relevant metrics that translate to your specific business context and organizational goals.3) Choose both quantitative and qualitative metrics. Quantitative can be sales revenue, new leads, newsletter subscribers etc. Qualitative can be customer satisfaction, loyalty, interaction/feedback etc. 4) Base your campaign goals on these metrics. Your ROI is measured by meeting or exceeding the goals you have established. 5) Use your metrics to adjust your campaigns. Filter out what is not working. Now for some real world examples:Qualitative Examples:Example #1: Rackspace IT Hosting campaign to build loyalty and trust. Idea: Be nice to customers who mention your company and/or product name on TwitterSuccess Metrics: • Amount of positive comments sent to customers per week within a given time ceiling.• Amount of conversations that started from the commentGoal: N amount of positive conversations about your company or product per weekExample #2: Starbuck’s Campaign to increase customer satisfaction.Idea: Engage with customers and prospects using social media and ask what they would like from you.Success Metrics:• Amount of good suggestions that your company had not thought of.• Amount of the good suggestions received that your company actual implementsGoal: N amount of suggestions collected per month and N amount that you actually implement.Example # 3: Copyblogger campaign to increase authority.Idea: Start a blog on a topic that relates to your company and the you can be an expert on. Focus on writing authoritative content first, promoting your company second.Success Metrics: • Amount of influential blogs linking to you• Page rank relative to that of competitors• Amount of organic traffic per month• Amount of traffic that converts to salesGoals:• N page rank by a certain date• Nth position in page rank relative to competitors by a certain date• N% of organic traffic per month• $N per month attributable to referrals from blogQuantitative Examples:Example #1: Burger King campaign to increase offline salesIdea: Implement a promotion on a social media platform. Give participants a printable campaign voucher so you can track where the offline sales originated. Success Metrics: • Monthly sales• Monthly store trafficGoals:• $N monthly sales• N% increase in store traffic over the pre-promotion periodExample #2: Dell Outlet Campaign to increase online salesIdea: Use Twitter to inform prospects about special promotions. Capitalize on Twitter’s real-time nature for exclusive limited-customer and/or limited time offersSuccess Metrics: • Monthly sales attributable directly to Twitter• New customers directly attributable to Twitter• Monthly revenue generated from customers originally from Twitter (e.g. did the customer go back later and buy more)Goals:• $N monthly sales• $N monthly sales directly attributable to TwitterIf you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. That’s an overused adage, but it still remains true. Social media, just like the more traditional methods of marketing needs to be measured and it can be. I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can measure your social media efforts.

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  1. Ruth, this is by far one of the best and most in depth posts i’ve read in quite awhile about social media ROI and analytics.Not to say that ROI can’t be measured, it can. It will take some of the old tactics such as surveys and asking “where did you hear about us” in order to measure lift and changes in behavior. Ironic that as the Internet evolves we may be making full circle where businesses at some level do have to make that leap of faith … at least on some marketing activities.

  2. If you're spending money on it, it needs to get measured. I'm astonished by the number of companies that don't have metrics in place for their internet marketing campaigns. At a very basic level, if you're just shooting for direct conversions and you want to track them via google analytics - just set up unique URLs with the Google URL builder and then use a URL shortener and you can track individual tweets, campaigns, etc.

  3. I first started promoting my computer maintenance business on twitter six months ago, and although I had my doubts at first, it payed out in the end. Most of my clients now come from twitter traffic, or from search engines.

  4. The reality is that the definition of ROI hasn't changed. First you have to define the R"" that is your goal, then you subtract from that goal the ""I"" == the money it costs you to get to that goal. Your examples are great, because they tie to real goals. Most people whinging about ""how do you measure Social Media"" can't articulate a measurable goal."

  5. Definitely appreciate the examples. So many articles just talk in theory, and I'm much better with real world application.

  6. I am constantly researching different ways to measure the ROI on social media, online PR and traditional PR for my clients and the best part of this article is the question What do you want to measure?"" This can and usually is different for different types of clients so learning what is important to individual industries is important."