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social media how to Do you spend hours on your social media outreach and have no idea if it’s successful?

Are your clients constantly clamoring for social proof?

If you haven’t already done so, you need to find a strategy to measure your social media return on investment (ROI).

In this article I’ll share tools and tips to measure the ROI of your social media efforts.

Why Measure Your ROI?

ROI is proof that your marketing efforts are working. Clients and supervisors need to know if you’re successful… and you do too!

This is important for social media companies, consultants and in-house staff.

The main challenge in measuring ROI is keeping up with changes in algorithms, implementing the new tools that hit the marketplace and proving to your clients that they’re getting the most out of their investment in you.

Here are five steps for your ROI measurement strategy.

#1: Set Social Media Goals

ROI can be measured in a variety of ways: through customer acquisition, lead generation, clicks, revenue, contest entries, etc. It all depends on your goals. Before you can track and measure your ROI, you need to determine your goals so you know which factors you’re measuring and what success looks like.

Top 5 Metrics for Auditing Your Social Media Marketing ROI: Beyond revenue, participating in social media has many “beneficial business applications, such as facilitating customer service and boosting public relations.”

Reach, traffic, leads, customers and conversion rate are the metrics Pamela Vaughan on HubSpot suggests you consider to determine social media marketing success.

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HubSpot.com shares 5 ROI metrics you should audit.

Measure Your Online ROI in Six Simple Steps: Troels Kjems, senior consultant at Think! Digital, shares a variety of examples of website conversion goals (also known as desired actions) you want your visitors to perform.

These include online purchases, filled-out contact forms, link clicks, newsletter signups, PDF downloads, social interactions, video views and more.

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Find examples of conversion goals on ThinkDigital.com.

Follow Three Steps to Identify Your Campaign Goals and Measure Their Outcomes: For an alternate view of how to set social media goals, check out this MarketingProfs article by Laura Patterson.

Patterson suggests you quantify what you’re aiming at and preset your performance targets. “If the desired business outcome is related to customer acquisition or demand generation, your performance targets for the program… may consist of a certain number of inquiries, appointments or even quote requests.”

#2: Determine the Right Platforms

Your social media goals and resulting strategies must align with your platforms. Some fan bases are primarily on Twitter, others on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. Find where your audience spends their time so you can position your plan to be successful.

How to Choose Social Media Platforms: This infographic from Melissa Leiter breaks down the different platforms: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn.

When determining your target market, you must figure out who they are, what platforms they prefer and how much time they spend there. They you can find platforms that are the right fit.

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Find a breakdown of social platforms on MelissaLeiter.com.

Social Media: Do You Know Where Your Audience Is?Heidi Cohen shares research on the demographics of social media in the United States. She also suggests actionable marketing tips for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram, based on the findings.

#3: Track Campaigns

You need to track the time spent, cost of ads, etc., as well as the activities and campaigns you launch as part of your social media marketing. There are a variety of tools you can use to do this.

7 Multi-Platform Social Media Analytics Tools: Monitoring your social media is essential for determining your ROI. On RazorSocial, Ian Cleary shares the cost, functionality and benefits of a variety of social measurement tools from free Google Analytics to paid tools like Socialbakers and Simply Measured.

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Explore ROI tools on RazorSocial.com.

Social Media ROI: 11 Free Tools for Measuring Social Media Success: On Search Engine Watch, Chuck Price shares 11 free social media monitoring tools.

This list includes HootSuite (which isn’t just for scheduling), Social Mention (which allows you to track sentiment, among other things) and bitly (which allows you to customize shortened links so you can track everything you share).

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SearchEngineWatch.com rounds up 11 free measurement tools.

#4: Report Findings

It doesn’t matter if you’re reporting to a supervisor or for yourself, you need to determine a way to report your results. You will also want to come up with a timeframe that makes sense—weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly or all of the above.

The 5 Top Google Analytics Reports for Social Media Marketers: Convince & Convert has an excellent resource for that all-important dive into Google Analytics reporting. Chris Sietsema shares classic and new tasks for measuring the social impact of your campaigns.

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Learn about Google Analytics reports on ConvinceAndConvert.com.

The Perfect Social Media Report—Tips and Tricks to Get the Best Results: This report template by Alexandra Cojocaru on uberVu is a little more comprehensive, which makes it perfect for presentations.

It includes platform distribution, as well as qualitative and quantitative metrics, sentiment and results for specific social sites.

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Learn how to create the best ROI report from Ubervu.com.

Here’s also a Facebook Reporting Template, as well as additional tricks for reporting and a template you can use for Twitter, LinkedIn and a blog, from Rachel Melia.

#5: Review Results and Reset Goals

Once you have your stats in front of you, you can calculate your ROI and review the results of your marketing to see what worked and didn’t work. If you did paid advertising, that’s important to measure as well, because it relates to a specific cost.

An In-Depth Guide on How to Calculate the ROI of a Social Media Campaign: On 60 Second Marketer, Jamie Turner shows you how to assign a value to your customers and use that figure to determine your social media spend. Jamie then walks you through using metrics to drive changes in your social media campaigns.

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60SecondMarketer.com shows you how to calculate your ROI.

Social Media ROI is Nothing But a Numbers Game: This article really defines the ongoing need for measuring ROI – no matter how frustrating it gets. Nichole Kelly, Social Media Explorer, talks about understanding the math, readjusting and retargeting.

Want examples of smart ROI campaigns? Read The ROI of Social Media: 10 Case Studies from The Next Web.

What do you think? How do you determine ROI? What tools and reports do you find most useful? Share your experience or examples in the comments below.

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