How to Measure Social Media ROI

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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About the Author, Debra Eckerling

Debra Eckerling is an editor at Social Media Examiner. The creator of Write On Online, a website and community for writers, Debra helps individuals define, plan and achieve their goals. Other posts by »




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  • David Prochaska

    It’s really all about the ROI isn’t it? Determining ROI on Social Media seems a little difficult to me, so I will definitely check out some of the extra links in the article. I am a data driven person by nature so I really like to dive it and look at the numbers. I really need to know how to do that more efficiently in all areas, not just in Social Media. Practice makes perfect right?! Great article!

  • Sophie Perrone

    Very true, for any marketing campaign; ROI plays an important role and data we gathered from different tools are the driving force behind the success or failure of any campaign.

    nice article

  • Martin Siegel

    Bravo! Excellent post. Now lets hope that the 85% of the wanna be social media experts
    take the time to read the reports and LEARN THEIR CRAFT, before calling themselves
    social media professionals!

  • http://blog.ubervu.com Alexandra Cojocaru

    Thanks a lot for including my article, Debra! Happy to be part of such a comprehensive list of resources, I’ve already bookmarked several of them for reading later :)

  • Jane

    Fantastic article Debra – so full of great tips and info that my head is spinning! But in a good way Thank you!

  • Christopher Biddle

    I have one question, which possibly is addressed by one of links in this article: How do you assign a dollar value to social media outcomes, such as likes, that don’t direclty increase revenues? Some folks arbitrarily assign an AVE-like value to SM outcomes, but this practice is now viewed as suspect (Barcelona principles). By the way, THIS IS A GREAT ARTICLE!!!

  • jeffyablon

    Debra, that was almost fantastic. Great presentation, nice round-up of facts. But sadly, what @christoper biddle says is the real point: you don’t have a real way to measure real value, and so this becomes … just another discussion about nothing :-(

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks, David. Yes. ROI = social proof. The more you do it, the easier it is to figure out what works.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks, Sophie. Agreed!

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks for your comment, Martin . That’s why we are here. To help social media professionals improve their craft.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Wonderful. Thanks, Alexandra. And thanks for posting such valuable resources.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks, Jane. That’s the goal – positive head spinning. Glad the article was helpful.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks, Christopher. That’s the challenge: Putting specific $$$ value in places that are measured qualitatively.

  • Fyaw Nym

    Hi Jeffy, I totally agree. This is just another blog where somebody confuses reach with ROI. As Debra states herself: ‘Putting specific $$$-value in places that are measured qualitatively’ are the challenge. So the challenge is to measure ROI.

  • mangozilla

    I must disagree. You use the analytics tools to track specific traffic and conversions. If the value of a customer is $1000 and you have a landing page that converts 1 out of 10 visitors, then on average each person you can send to your landing page is worth $100. Extrapolating further, you might assess that you can get 10% of your social likes to your landing page, then 10 new ‘likes’ is worth $100, or $10 a piece. Optimistic hypothetical numbers, but you get the point…

  • Jitendra Padmashali

    Thanks Debra for share this, There are many tool for that also It can be particularly challenging when justifying the budget for social media marketing. SMM is often best measured in terms of audience reach, engagement and sentiment, these actually measure ROI unless the user actually can input the actual expenses.

  • Akash Agarwal

    ROI means Social Media Marketing Return on Investment. Many
    are engaged in Social Media Marketing, I thought, but few are engaged in the
    actual measurement of their Social Media Marketing ROI.

  • jeffyablon

    I’m sorry, but that’s incredibly naive. I’d like to believe that dividing visitors by acquired customers is all there is to it, but unless you’re sure that all visitors ARE potential customers (they aren’t) AND you’re sure that the page “drew them” rather than they happened by, that formula is just not of any value.

    MORE to the point, the question was measuring ROI of social, and just because you’ve created a landing page and there are social links or other pointers to it doesn’t mean that social is “what worked”.

    At the simplest level, of course, one can measure # of referrals (from a specific source, even), and IF YOU’RE LUCKY how many of those referrals converted. But realistically? Nonsense.

    Social has to happen. And you can make up any metrics or definitions for conversions you like. But ultimately you can not trust those metrics. Ergo, Social’s ROI can’t REALLY be measured.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks for your comment, Akash. ROI is a challenge. Hopefully this article will help more people figure out the best way to figure out ROI for their business.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks for your comment, Jitendra. Agreed. Users need to pull together all that goes into – and comes out of – their campaigns, so they can figure out the ROI.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Love this lively discussion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. It goes back to this series of activities: determine what works for you, see what you can prove, and put numbers together that you can share with the “boss” and/or your team, so you can continue to improve your social media strategy!

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks for your comment! And for contributing to this lovely conversation!

  • Maysoon

    Very informative Article. Number 5 just said what I’ve been looking for for a while. I’ve always asked myself “what should I do with the results I get from all the measurements?”..”what actions should I take towards my goals?” and you summarized it with “reset”. Going to check out these tools, too.
    Thank you so much for the brilliant article.

  • http://GuidedGoals.com Debra Eckerling

    Thanks for your comment, Maysoon. And you are welcome. Glad the article was helpful!

  • Clay Selby

    Great article Debra! I am the founder of a social analytics platform called SocialRest. David Prochaska (in comments) is exactly right…identifying the exact ROI of social influences and influencers isn’t exactly easy – this has been something our team has been working on and building the SocialRest our platform to do.

    One thing we focus on at SocialRest, is determining the actual revenue caused by your brands content being shared on social. Much like Google analytics, you setup the conversion rules in our platform, we then monitor content being posted to social that may influence your brand and track any conversions that take place.

    @debraeckerling:disqus I saw your comment below about measuring qualitatively instead of with specific $$$’s…I would love to get your eye into what we are doing!

  • guptaabhijit318

    Thank you – this article and template have been really helpful. Thanks for sharing such an informative article about ROI .

  • Felix Brown

    Great point, Thanks for bringing that up – I’ll definitely look for some stats on that next
    time







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