Getting SMART about your social media ROI

The ROI of Social Media

Social media has become a staple of many marketers’ promotional campaigns. However, many of these same marketers struggle with how to quantify the impact their initiatives are having.

Traditional business ROI (defined as sales growth – marketing investment ÷ marketing investment) really isn’t fair for measuring the impact of a single marketing tactic, especially since most campaigns use multiple tactics. Additionally, a successful sale is dependent on many factors that are out of the control of the marketing tactic used to bring the customer and the brand together (the price of the product or service, the perceived quality of the product or service, the effectiveness of the salesperson charged with making the sale, etc.).

So instead, you need to measure what your communications tactics impact: audience awareness. Since that’s rather ambiguous, your metric needs to be an action that your audience takes that shows they have been made aware of your messaging. How many likes or shares/retweets did a specific post get? How many “profile clicks” and “link clicks” did your post generate? Did it generate any comments or direct messages? Your website’s analytics are also a great place to see if your social media is being effective. Track the number of people who are coming to your webpage via your social media channels. Whatever your situation, the strategy is the same: look for actions you want your audience to take and measure for this.

But just choosing an action to measure isn’t enough. Your metric needs to be a SMART goal that shows you’re moving the needle. SMART is an acronym for:

  1. Specific: Be clear on what you’re measuring and why.
  2. Measurable: Make sure you can quantify the action you are seeking.
  3. Achievable: Set a goal that’s reachable, but also is a challenge.
  4. Relevant: You’re measuring something that relates to your business’ goals.
  5. Time-bound: There’s a deadline for when you need to achieve your goal.

As an example: your company is launching a new product and you want to get the word out. One of your tactics is to use Twitter. To be successful in your measurement, your Twitter posts will need to include a link to a page on your website that talks specifically about your new product. So the goal of your Twitter posts is to attract your audience’s attention and get them to click through on the imbedded link to read more about your new product. Your SMART goal might be:

To generate 50 click-throughs from my Twitter posts to my webpage that promotes and explains our new product during the rollout campaign.

It’s specific: It’s clear on what you’re measuring – click-throughs.
It’s measurable: You want 50 click-throughs.
It’s achievable: Your company is active on social media and you have a strong following of current and potential customers.
It’s relevant: It supports your goals of attracting people to learn about your new product.
It’s time-bound: It needs to happen during the rollout campaign.

Now you have something to gauge your success against.

Though no social media ROI measurement is perfect, using these types of evaluations – and doing so over time – will reveal your overall success. It can also create benchmarks against which future social media efforts can be judged.

Measurement is an area where many marketing and communications professionals struggle. Marketing is both a creative discipline and a science; yet the business world typically measures it through science-colored glasses. By showing you are measuring your activities and how those measurements relate to your business’ goals and objectives, you can be confident you are investing your marketing resources wisely.

If you need help in creating measurable metrics, please email me.

I’d also be interested to know how others are taking social media measurements to new levels. This is definitely a growing tactic and we can all learn from each other’s successes!