Showing return on investment in strictly financial terms is pretty simple, and it’s been the way companies measure the value of their marketing and advertising expenditure for decades. Online marketing, and especially social media marketing, has thrown that metric right out the window, leaving us asking the question: What is social media ROI, and how do you measure it?
Because direct selling on social media is frowned upon and ignored by most users, social media marketing has had to become something more subtle – it’s all about brand awareness, engagement and community building, rather than just a handy – and free – advertising platform. Any social media ROI metrics you use, therefore, will be more about measuring engagement, interaction and brand awareness success.
Before you even begin looking at your average social media ROI, you need to define your expectations. For example, if your intention is to improve your company’s image, people’s perception of the company, or public relations in general, then your metrics will include discussions about your company, positive reviews, positive feedback and so on.
To effectively measure social media success, you need to define what that success is and work from there. These three measures, we believe, are the most important to measuring social media effectiveness.
1. Engagement (not likes)
It’s great when your company Facebook page, YouTube channel or Twitter feed reaches a follower milestone, whether it’s 1,000 likes, or 50,000 followers. However, you could have a few million followers of whom only a tiny percentage are engaged with your social media. Engagement can mean anything from simply clicking “like”, to commenting on, reblogging or sharing your post.
Bear in mind that buying likes and followers is pointless, because followers who aren’t actively engaged do not add to your online presence at all. Most social media platforms care more about how many people have engaged with your posts, pushing those with active interest higher in feeds. The more engaged your followers, the more effective your social media is.
Usually, when we speak about conversion, we’re thinking about sales generated. Social media, however, can provide us with several different conversion metrics. For example, someone linking to and reading your blog article becomes a valid social media conversion when they subscribe to and actively follow it. Or, if someone follows a competition link from your social media and enters the contest, that also counts as a conversion.
Again, it’s about defining your actual goals, and redefining the meaning of concepts like conversion. Yes, eventually you do want that engaged follower to turn into a lead and preferably a customer, but there are many other goals to consider as well.
Reputation management, brand culture and public relations are all affected by your social media presence and interactions. In fact, these could be your primary goal. That’s why it’s still one of the most important social media ROI metrics to focus on. Using social media to build, improve and establish a good reputation will eventually lead to growth in lead generation and, by extension sales.
As we get more and more creative with social media, these metrics are sure to see some evolution and, in time, there may even be more space for direct selling and advertising in social media. Until that happens, however, try to keep focusing on the additional benefits social media marketing can bring your company.
What would you like to achieve with your social media? Let us know in the comments.
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