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A guide to measuring social media ROI


There’s a popular misconception that it’s difficult to use targeted metrics to measure social media’s return on investment (ROI). That’s not true. Nor is social media only good for measuring brand awareness.

The fact is social media can offer some of the best metrics for measuring ROI. All you need to do is set your success guides—what you want to achieve and how long it will take—and measure your results against them.

Here are six simple metrics for the main social networks that you can use to measure your social media ROI across earned, owned and paid media:

1. Blogger outreach

A key component of many (if not most) social media campaigns, blogger outreach programs can offer some of the best results of any marketing tactic. Measuring your success isn’t too difficult, either. All you have to do is determine the answers to the following questions:

  • How many bloggers wrote about you?
  • How many comments did these posts receive?
  • How many social shares did the post get?
  • What was your traffic pre- and post-outreach?
  • How much product did you have to provide to bloggers, and how many sales did you receive?

2. Twitter

Twitter not only offers instant eyeballs, but great returns. Again, measuring your impact is relatively simple:

  • What was your retweet value (cost of manpower and resources versus followers who take action)?
  • How often did people use your hashtag?
  • How many times did people click your vanity URL?
  • How many new (genuine) followers did you get during your promotion?
  • If you used something like sponsored tweets, what was the cost versus the click-throughs and conversions?

3. Facebook

Although it has its critics (including me), Facebook offers some great built-in tools and demographic options to help gauge a campaign’s success:

  • How many new, worthwhile fans did you make, and how many did you target?
  • How many times did people like or act on your promotion message?
  • If you built a Facebook application, how many times did people install or share it?
  • Did you successfully reach your target demographic? (Facebook Insights can help.)
  • How much did you spend on a Facebook ad, and how did click-throughs and new sales/customers compare?

4. Google+

While we don’t quite know the effectiveness of brand pages on Google+ and in-line Google Ads complement Google+ content, there are ways to measure your activity:

  • Has Google+ raised your profile on search, as well as resulting traffic to your site?
  • How many circles have people added you to?
  • How many +1s do your comments and discussions receive?
  • How active is your community?
  • How many ripples do your discussions create?
  • How many attendees take part in your hangouts?

5. YouTube and other video sites

More than just a fun place to see kids hurt themselves on bikes, YouTube is a key tool in any marketing campaign—just ask the companies that used it during this year’s Super Bowl.

Here are the questions you should ask:

  • How many views did you get?
  • How many likes and favorites did you receive?
  • How many downloads did you get (on video sites that allow downloads)?
  • How many embeds has your video seen elsewhere on the Web?
  • How many subscribers did your channel attract?
  • If your video had a call to action with a vanity URL, how many times did people click through?
  • How many social shares did you get on the social networks your target demographics use?

6. Mobile

As marketing evolves, the different ways to reach an audience combine to create new outlets. Mobile marketing is the perfect complement to social marketing, and is easy to measure:

  • Did you use a push SMS system to drive traffic to a mobile-friendly site? If so, how many views did it bring?
  • Did you use QR codes? If so, how many times did people use them?
  • How many downloads did your mobile app receive?
  • How many times did people check-in on Gowalla and Foursquare?
  • What was the most popular operating system? (This can tell you a lot about your audience’s demographic and buying options.)

These questions offer just some of the immediate ways you can measure your social media success. There are more ways to measure your success, including monitoring tools and more defined analytics. Which ones you use will depend on the goals you’ve set and how you define success.

No matter how you collect the information you need, it all comes down to comparing man hours and financial outlay to your return.

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