Revisiting Social Media’s ROI: 5 Metrics That Matter

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Synopsis — As a special feature, we have an excerpt from Tamar Weinberg’s book The New Community Rules: Marketing On The Social Web. Tamar discusses the challenge of keeping track of and calculating the return on investment of involvement in social media. By concentrating on five specific metrics, she illustrates the reasoning behind why each is essential to the task and provides details on the means to use to get the most out of them. By finding out what is important and how to go about tracking it, you can decide if and — more importantly — how to make the most of the time you spend developing your business’s social media campaigns.

Revisiting Social Media’s ROI: 5 Metrics That Matter

It can be difficult to get actual numbers for determining return on investment (ROI) on your social media campaign; you can’t put a numeric value on the buzz and quality of an online conversation. However, there are other ways to measure the success of your social media marketing efforts. We’ve reviewed a number of tools that can show you if your campaign is successful. Note, though, that it is not easy to directly correlate conversions with your social media marketing strategy, especially if you have several marketing strategies in play simultaneously.

There are five separate metrics that you can look at to estimate your ROI:

  • Reach
  • Frequency and traffic
  • Influence
  • Conversions and transactions
  • Sustainability

Reach

How far is your message traveling? You can determine this by the number of links your story has garnered, the number of people tweeting about your campaign, or the number of connections you’ve accumulated since you listed your Fan page on Facebook. Depending on the channel, you can measure this by seeing how many retweets a specific story or URL has gotten.

Frequency and Traffic

How often are people visiting your site? To determine this, open up your analytics software and look at the number of impressions in a specific time period versus other periods. If you see a surge of traffic and you are doing no other marketing at the same time, it may very well be attributed to your social media marketing campaign. You may also want to review your web analytics to see how many visits your website receives on average and how frequently you received visitors after your campaign took off.

Influence

How deep are conversations related to your business? Are people actually discussing the subject, or are they looking, commenting (or not), and moving on? If there’s more depth and influence, there’s more potential for conversion and virality.

Conversions and Transactions

Are you actually seeing people click through to other parts of your site since you launched that viral piece to raise awareness about your business? Are they downloading the software you’ve asked them to try? Are you seeing additional transactions? Registrations? Purchases?

Sustainability

How long will users stick with you after your social media campaign gets plastered on their radars? Are they going to stick with you once they become aware of your existence, or are they going to go elsewhere? Will you have them for a short while until their involvement tapers off; will you see them only for the duration of the campaign; or are they true customers for life?

You can gauge the success of a social media marketing campaign by looking at different metrics. However, your internal marketing team should review each individual metric and determine how to best measure the output, so there is no definitive suggestion about what to look for besides results. Plus, in alignment with your SMART goals, you may need to tweak metrics.

While some of these areas may seem a little broad, you can often assess the overall success of a campaign by reviewing the quality of the reach and influence. For example, influence is something you may not be able to measure directly, but what is the quality of conversation? Are people considering actually trying out the product after being alerted to its existence? Is the promotional message causing users to shy away from your product? The idea here is to start listening to the conversation, and then participating to create long-term relationships that will yield success in the future.

Am I Done Yet?

Your big social media marketing viral campaign may have taken months to formulate and execute. You typically won’t want to stop there. Regular interaction is vital. Consider this logic: do you write a blog post and just call it a day after that post has gained momentum? If you don’t write consistently, your subscribers will stop coming to you for more content. According to a survey conducted by blogger Darren Rowse, 29% of respondents said that the biggest reason they unsubscribe from blogs is because the blogger does not update his or her blog frequently enough. If you don’t keep your information fresh, many readers will move on to bigger and better things.

As you can tell, you have a lot of work to do, but it gets easier as you gain credibility in the space. Plus, like real-life face-to-face relationships, online interactions eventually become something you can do without effort as long as you practice at it at first. You may already be a pro without knowing. It doesn’t hurt to take the plunge.

(An excerpt from Tamar Weinberg, Chapter 12, “Sealing the Deal: Putting It All Together” from The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web, June 2009, O’Reilly Media, Inc.)

About the Author

Tamar Weinberg is one of the industry's top experts in social media, having been a well-known blogger and staple on the conference circuit for many years now. Tamar recently published her first book, The New Community Rules, which focuses on the milieu of social media and how marketers can best use the new social space. Tamar blogs at Techipedia.com. Her Twitter account is @tamar.

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