Social media is a part of nearly every good business strategy because nearly everyone has it and nearly every business can benefit from it.
Trouble is, it’s hard to calculate how big that benefit is.
We, as humans seeking gratification, tend to be drawn to the vanity metrics – the likes, comments and shares. And while those are important, they’re not going to convince your boss/board/business partner by themselves.
You need ROI metrics.
ROI metrics that will help you measure success
I’m not a money person but I am a person that dislikes being unemployed, so I analyse social media activity to find out what it’s worth to the business. Even if you’re not using social media to send people directly to a purchase or other money-making conversion, you need to be able to show it’s worth the cash or time that’s being put into it.
[It’s also never a bad thing to know what all this time you’ve spent building a community is actually worth. It’ll stop you deleting your account when things get tough.]
This could be the number of followers increasing over time or the number of people your ads are reaching; whichever way you want to consider your audience, being able to show growth over time is a good way to show the benefit of your social media activity.
The more people see your brand, the better your brand awareness. The more people see your ads, the more money you stand to make. The more customers you connect with for customer service, the better satisfaction they’ll have.
You can use tools like Twittercounter to track your own social media growth but make sure you track the growth of your competitors’ audiences too.
There are a lot of sub-metrics you could use to measure engagement and they depend on how you use social media.
If you’re using social mainly for customer service, this could include how many messages you get, how long your response time is and a log of customer sentiment.
If you’re running ads, you’d want to be showing off the reach of your campaign (how many accounts it’s hitting), how many likes/comments/shares it’s getting and how many conversions it’s achieving (sales/app downloads/website hits).
If you’re using social media mainly for brand awareness, the vanity metrics (likes/shares/comments) are very useful but you’ll also want to be showing reach and amplification (the number of shares you get divided by the number of posts you do, which shows how far your message is spreading).
Yeah, money. Or something that leads to money eventually.
A lot of social media strategies won’t include direct sales because engagement on social comes too early on in the customer journey. However, if you’re charged with getting people from social media to the website so they are aware of what you sell, that’s a conversion.
Some key conversions from social media:
- Website visit
- App download
- Event interest
- Email signup
All very important parts of a marketing strategy and none that actually make money right there and then. Social media conversions are part of a long game.
If you have a budget for social media, it’s important to track conversion cost and conversion rate alongside the number of conversions. Knowing exactly what one website click is worth to the company is nigh on impossible but setting a benchmark from your first few campaigns will help you track whether a campaign is doing well or not in the future.
If you have access to Google Analytics, always double-check your campaign success. You can use Google’s Campaign URL Builder to put tracking on your link so it shows up in Google Analytics with how many people have clicked it and how many conversions you had.
Facebook, in particular, is infamously optimistic with its metrics, so knowing your social media metrics are accurate before showing off to your company director is a good plan. That way, when she randomly sees a LinkedIn post about how unreliable social media numbers are, you’ll be panic-free.
You need vanity and ROI
True social media benefit comes from having a community that trusts you and values what you post enough to share it. That means they’ll click on your links, have conversations with you that show others you’re great, and spread your ace-ness to other people like them – your perfect marketing target.
So, vanity metrics are very useful for keeping you human-focused. Just make sure you’re backing it up with the money stuff: the ROI metrics.