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Social Media ROI: Measure What Matters

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.” William Bruce Cameron

In my last post, I established how a successful social media strategy should be closely aligned with a key business objective in order to ensure real return on your investments. Once that is done, and you set a clear KPI on that objective, you can begin to implement a measurement framework.

In social media there is a wealth of data and if you know what you are looking for, you can get a very accurate picture of what is working and what isn’t. Establishing a framework means you can monitor and measure many aspects of your social media, but in a hierarchy where the business objective is the overriding metric. This ensures your activity won’t get sidetracked by an ancillary metric - such as number of followers. Beneath that overall objective, you should have a number of other metrics within your measurement scope that analyze all your channels and content assets.

By testing one metric against another, you can constantly identify what activity yields the best results and adapt your tactics accordingly.

These metrics can include, for instance:

Traffic: It is important to work very closely with your web team to get access to data that tells you which activity is driving the most web traffic and get a good understanding of what effect your social media efforts have on customer behaviour on the site.

Engagement: It is important to keep an eye on what engagement your content inspires. Which types of content attract the most comments or shares, and which content is the most popular - e.e. views and likes. Adapt your content strategy on producing more of this type of content because engagement means an emotional connection has been made with your customer.

Themes: Which themes or topics within your content are the most successful. If you look at this through the lens of SEO and keywords, you can align your social and search strategies to achieve a combined effect.

Timing: Carefully monitor which posting times drive the highest response and then you can focus on the times when your audience is most conducive to receiving your messages.

Sentiment: How is your brand sentiment changing? Are your customers more positive, less negative or remaining neutral? How this dial changes as a result of each new campaign is a sign of how you are impacting the brand as a whole.

Most Marketing Technology platforms give the ability to design complex dashboards within them that extract data from multiple sources to give you a simple, comprehensive and intuitive view of your data. Once this is in place you can begin “A/B Testing” to identify which tactics work best. For instance:

  1. Channel: Test one channel versus another to see which delivers more traffic or engagement or follower growth.
  2. Timing: Test morning versus afternoon to see what time your audience prefers or responds better to.
  3. Location: Test one state or city against another to better understand where the bulk of your audience is based, or who among your customers are the most responsive.
  4. Content: Test one form of content against another to find out which type of assets you should invest more in, infographics, videos or blog posts?

Through your experimentation and analysis, you should always maintain the  business objective at the centre of your thinking. It is really important to understand how each metric corresponds to this objective. How does more web traffic affect sales? How does content engagement improve sentiment? These are all questions you must be able to answer in the context of the strategic objective. This enables you to always tell the narrative of your efforts: “we did this, it increased that and this affects your bottom line because…”

The more you invest in this framework, the more sophisticated your social media will become.

Gareth Llewellyn