Expert’s Insights to Better Measure Your Social Media ROI in All-Digital Era
How would you measure the ROI in social media? Originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Companies small and large know they have to integrate a social media facet to their marketing program. Companies, from the smallest one-retired-grandfather hobby Christmas wreath making “company” to McDonalds, Coca Cola, you name it. Don’t do it and you are missing the boat, we all agree. For SME’s (small and medium-sized enterprises) without their own staff to allocate and particularly for those with existing staff knowledgeable in social media marketing, hiring an agency for this necessitates analysis of at least the short-term ROI with which to justify SMM expenditure.
A revelation for many company big-wigs from 2008 through 2009 was that SMM is not something to entrust to “the intern,” or to tack on as some minor assignment for their assistant. After all, according to 2009 Mzinga & Babson Executive Education study, over 80% of professionals do not measure ROI for their company’s social media programs; at my firm, we believe that such professionals tend to be already busy enough with their primary profession. Moreover, there are better arguments for doing the work rather than tracking ROI: In SMM, particularly in building company and brand reputation, and then, in forging connections with customers, one would be at fault to disregard the immeasurable value of the other ROI: Return on Intelligence, which assumes that per company, per SMM project, it is going to take time and tactical changes before you do it right. Social Media Marketing quantitative analytical models and processes are rather new, often inappropriate for a specific firm’s case, and can be time consuming to employ, considering the information they generate. “Marketing Sherpa’s” survey of over 2,000 marketing professionals employing SMM tactics found, however, these three metrics being measured most:
- Number of sources of traffic
- Network size: number of followers, fans, members, visitors, posters, etc.
- Quantity of comments about the company/client’s brand(s) and/or product(s)
We are all still learning. We should expect that we need to look at each client’s goals, budget, damage-control, etc. special situations, and selects ways to demonstrate both short and long term ROI – with an ‘I’ for both investment and intelligence – and identify several from our list of ten social media marketing metrics by which to judge the value to you in what we do:
Social Media Leads
We always want to track
web traffic breakdowns from all social media sources, and chart the
top few sources over time. Per day, per month, per country, and
referrer are analyzed for clues to what we can do to garner more. Members of a social media network typically send referrals, and we consider quantifying such data additionally.
For some companies and some SMM campaigns, engagement duration is actually more important than the simple number of page views received. For example, if you have a web game, site application, etc., how much time are the social network members spending using it? Is per-member usage duration increasing over time? Comparing with search engine and direct access visits, when people visit your company websites from social media portals, how long are they spending with you? (Also to be
considered is a tracking of which pages of your site they visit and for how long.)
Are visitors coming to your site from SM sites but quickly leaving? Maybe your landing page needs better, more relevant copy, or visitors need to receive something of value (a coupon, a news update, etc.) on the first page they reach. Maybe the information they seek is not found with ease?
Membership Increases and Active Network Size
This is the percentage (small, usually) of users of your company’s
social networks (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums) that actively
engages with your social media content. Is your network of members, followers, and fans growing, and is there interaction with
your content? (Qualitatively, are you/we addressing suggestions
and negative feedback that might be telling us why many are not
interacting with your content?)
Activity Ratio Increases Per Campaign
There will always be many social network members who retain membership but are never active. On the other hand, if you initiate campaigns to increase interaction, you should also measure the resulting data and changes.
You want social network members to ultimately do as you desire, after all. They should be providing feedback, ordering subscriptions, and often, yes, they should be buying, either directly or through affiliates/resellers. We never underestimate the need to monetize the value of what we do. We measure every type of conversion and chart them over time, looking for trends and problems, things we change and how to do more of what appears to be working.
Brand Mentions in Social Media
When you have an active social network and members are discussing your company or brands, we want to measure and evaluate both positive and negative mentions (comments), and tendencies for them to change. This is, of course, something that we do not control entirely. For example, while we can tweet (message followers in Twitter) on the “great 5% price-cut on a 4-roll package of hotdog buns,” there is little we can do to prevent many loyal customers from noticing that the number of buns per package went from five to four, or a 20% product volume cut, despite only a 5% drop in price. (In such cases, we need to ask a client’s staff with overall marketing responsibility how they intended on keeping their buns being bought, despite this glaringly noticeable truth.)
Is there repeated interaction in your network, with content sharing and link exchange? Are your network members “fans” of your company/products/services, and are we making it easy and non-time-consuming to recommend your organization and what you do/make to others – or even to their entire network (i.e. by posting (“updating” and “sharing”) a link to your “2-for-1 web coupon offer” in their Facebook account… where they may get that offer seen by 2,000 or more of their “friends?” As rapidly as possible, we absolutely must build loyalty for you, and entice your network to mention your enterprise, services, brands, offers, and so on: evangelizing for you. How many of your site/blog/etc. members/followers reshare, retweet, or, pass on to their following, friends, network, etc. that which has been passed on to them? How often do they do this, as well?
Some of your network members may be beginning to share Twitter tweets and Facebook updates that draw favorable attention to your company, but is this information being reshared by their networks? How soon after they receive a note on your organization/product/brand/service/offer/important changes are they resharing such information? In SNS terms, how many FoFs
(Friends of Friends) are resharing your links and content?
This is actually more than one metric lumped together. Blogs are an essential element of your SMM campaign, since by allowing comments and interacting with readers by responding your customers and fans (i.e. soon-to-be-buyers) invariably feel heard. If you are doing this, encourage responses either directly in the comments section of blog posts and twitter, and perhaps in other means as well. (Use a blog widget that allows this.) If your blog’s content is suitable for social voting (Digg, Propeller, Mixx, etc.) or social bookmarking (Delicious, Stumbleupon) sites, install a blog plugin that displays the necessary sharing “buttons”, then track referrals back from those sites.
Within the list above there are both key metrics and variations that will be of value in monitoring and analyzing what we get for you with what we do, but as for which metrics we will track, we must first identify and evaluate your business objectives. Not all of them are simple metrics to track, and can be mainly a waste of precious (costly) time to monitor. Some even necessitate the creation of custom web tools and/or require the design of customized report spreadsheets. Not listed in our ten social media marketing metrics is the need to supplement metrics reports with notation of any milestones in your SMM plan. Before SMM, if you had 17 total blog users and were getting 200 site visits per month, how long does it take before you have 50 blog users and garner 5000 site visits per month? How long before your fans widen your SMM operation for you, at no cost, by initiating their own fan pages? Also, if you run any sort of social campaigns, measure the ROI on specific goals. Need 5,000 people to reserve their purchase of your electric vehicle? Well, how long before that happens? Social campaigns should be designed to use the best in web applications to encourage social participation. Measure application usage and resulting conversions. Finally, the use of complex measurements such as Multiple Moving Averages (MMAs) can show both short- and long-term trends, thus providing you with an overall view of the health of your sites and social networks. Are there other metrics you measure that you feel are more important for your company? What tools do you use to measure social metrics?
Contributed by Saul Fleischman, RiteKit CEO: maker of RiteTag, Rite.ly, RiteForge, RiteBoost