A recent survey by Mashable found that 84% of companies running social media programs don’t measure return on investment (ROI). A lot of brands both big and small are starting to leverage social media, but how do you measure the impact that social media is having either on sales or in brand lift? Assessing social media ROI is fairly hard due to the nature of the medium but it is not impossible.
Key Performance Indicators
At the launch of any social media campaign, you need to define some key performance indicators which are your measures of success. If you are putting in X dollars into a social media campaign what do you want to achieve? i.e. If you are going to setup a Facebook fan page for your service or product and then purchase some Facebook ads to drive to it, how many fans do you expect to get in return? Is 5$ per fan a reasonable amount for your brand or is it simply to expensive?
Some KPIs anyone running a social media program should monitor are as follows:
- Which social media tactics are reaching the most people and in turn producing the most traffic (twitter, blog, forum, etc)?
- Which tactics are driving the most engaged visitors (most time on site, most page views etc.) and the most high value tasks on site?
- Are your efforts attracting the right people? (measure with surveys, monitor user engagement on site).
- Based on you social media efforts, are you seeing any brand lift, positive comments in the blogosphere or increased intent to buy?
- Use a social media monitoring tool like Radian6 to monitor increases in mentions of your brand
- Use a back link checker to see if the number of hyperlinks to your site / blog / twitter etc. are increasing with time. Social media can lead to more incoming links helping you increase your organic search ranking.
- Take a look at branded search volumes that are driving to your site by looking up data in your analytics tool
If your company has not traditionally been part of the online conversation, what are you aiming for? Set some high level goals in terms of how many customer problems you want to address on forums and on Twitter on a weekly basis. If you have a dedicated Social PR resource set expectations ahead of time. You need concrete goals and then you need to work towards them. Take a look at how customers are responding to your Social Media PR efforts. Is there positive feedback when you help a customer using Twitter when other channels such as a call center support failed to address the customers issue?
The Bottom Line
In short, measurement is all about the numbers. If there is any way to assign a number to some facet of your social media campaign you need to know that number, take a measurement as a baseline and work to improve it. You also need to set goals ahead of time and works towards them. Don’t spend money on a campaign or social PR effort without having defined your success metric and defined some type of budget per high value task.