January 03, 2012
/ by Jackie Kmetz
Social media programs need to be monitored, measured and analyzed over time just like any other program in your company. Demonstrating ROI in social media, however, has often made people uncomfortable because social media measurement often requires enterprises to reconsider their definitions of ROI and then blend them with established measures. The efforts are well worth it and allow you to monitor progress, demonstrate success and discover opportunities to improve what you are doing in your online and even offline programs.
When establishing your metrics, remember social media is the vehicle, not the destination. Think of it like your business card. A business card merely represents potential. It’s impossible to accurately measure the ROI of a business card—just as you can’t measure the value of a Facebook fan. But that doesn’t mean we can’t apply measurement and value to the fan count. Put activity-based metrics in context: Did the additional Likes also correlate to additional conversions? Use the ‘so what’ test to look at the metrics in relation to your business goals. So what are the key metrics you should be tracking? Here are the top seven metrics used to track social media ROI today:
#1 Total Mentions (Brand Buzz)
This is the standard of social media monitoring metrics—how many times you were mentioned in social media this week, month, quarter, etc. It is a pretty basic stat but it’s a good baseline to help you understand how much or how little consumers are mentioning you. Tracking the sentiment associated with these mentions is useful too. The number alone is not the answer but watching for changes, peaks and valleys in volume, can help you identify where to investigate to understand perceptions, reactions and sentiment, measure impact of efforts (did they convert?) and calculate other metrics such as share of voice with your competitors.
#2 Reach (Fan Growth & Activity)
If you just read the headlines of social media articles, it would seem the number of followers, fans, friends, and group members you have is directly related to your social media success. There is truth to this statement but there is some fallacy as well. In social, your fan base, also known as reach, dictates that the more of it you have, the more people will see your content, spread your messages, and therefore increase your ROI. It stands to reason that this number should be increasing steadily over time or according to where you have focused your efforts. If you’re not attracting new followers as time goes on, evaluate your content and appeal. Are you providing value and benefit to followers and fans beyond getting that initial public high-five that someone likes you? What you do when you have their attention, your reach, and how they take action on it is what drives ROI.
#3 Likes & Retweets
Recently there has been some well-deserved backlash against just counting Likes on Facebook and Followers on Twitter. This is because these metrics do not necessarily indicate engagement or intent like a retweet does. But that does not mean they never do. For many brands, the thumbs up count, when earned appropriately, can be good indicators of appropriateness of content and techniques, as well as progress towards other objectives. It is important to understand that popularity and volume don’t necessarily relate to influence but can be good measures of perception. Tie these measures back to advocacy, action, and identifying influencers who can move the needle when it comes to leads and conversions.
#4 Traffic and Website Clickthrough Rates
It’s nice to have a social media community but it doesn’t help your program goals if no one takes action. Track what type of content or media makes your fans click through to your website. Look at your website/blog’s referral sources to determine how many visitors came from social media sites. Monitor this number over time. Are you noticing an increase in social media traffic as your reach improves? If not then re-evaluate the content you are sharing. Is it all about you and what’s happening with your company or do you provide value and useful information that drives action, appreciation and loyalty? Take action and find out what makes readers click, and create more of it. Videos, images, podcasts – even a certain type of article, targeted well, will get you more results.
#5 Leads and Customers
While this is arguably the most important metric to use when measuring social media marketing ROI, it doesn’t usually apply for many situations and brands. Review your social media goals, your business and customer acquisition process to see if this calculation makes sense for you. Then take another look at the traffic you’re generating from social media sites. Of that traffic, how many of those website and blog visitors are converting into leads? Now take that leads data one step further. Are your social media leads actually turning into customers? How many? Being able to attribute actual customers can be a powerful indicator that the time you’re spending on social media marketing is driving tangible results.
#6 Conversion Rate
What is the visit-to-lead conversion rate of your social media traffic? In other words, of the social media traffic you’re generating, what percentage of those visitors become leads? Conversion rates can be very useful when comparing one channel with another. For example, you can compare your social media conversion rate to your blogging conversion rate to analyze the ROI of those channels relative to each other.
#7 Your Activity and Outcomes
If you are in a listen-only mode then this metric will not apply to you. But if you are a proactive social media participant publishing, promoting, engaging with and helping consumers online, then tracking your activity and the outcomes of those efforts is critical. It’s incredibly powerful to be able to report how many times your team saves a customer from cancelling, switching or returning your product or service. One of the best ways to track this is by using an enterprise-level social media monitoring platform that can integrate your social program and engagements with your CRM system (thus the birth of the term SocialCRM).
Each of these social media analytics metrics will help you stay on the road to success. Use the data you find to make real changes to increase your results and reach your program goals.
How Visible Can Help
Visible is the leader in monitoring, analytics and engagement solutions, providing the perfect combination of software and services to harness business value from social communities. Our next generation social media platform, Visible Intelligence®, is designed to deliver big improvements in competitive and brand intelligence, social media engagement, marketing ROI and smarter customer insights through an agile platform that activates brand communities at Internet speed and enterprise scale.
We have been empowering many of the world’s largest brands including Microsoft, FedEx and American Express to inform business decisions, influence purchase behavior, perform crisis monitoring and response, build brand loyalty and improve customer relationships by harnessing the business value found in social media.
One of the ways we ensure our client’s success is by partnering with you to help design, build, develop and expand your social listening and analytics programs through a variety of services. Whether it’s developing your enterprise strategy, a social media command center or implementing social media best practices and customized data solutions, Visible supports building successful programs to maximize business results for each group in your organization.
~Jackie Kmetz Social Intelligence Crusader
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