47.9% of marketers can’t measure any social media ROI.
Yet social media accounts for 10.6% of marketing budgets.
This information isn’t from some random group of people.
It’s research from Tiffany-quality organizations including Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the American Marketing Association and Deloitte.
Are you one of the marketers who can’t measure social media ROI? Is your c-suite blissfully happy with this?
Don’t worry you’re in good company.
60% of marketers said measuring social media ROI was the challenging aspect of their program according to Trust Radius.
Before diving into why your social media marketing may be guaranteed to yield no results, let’s examine social media ROI.
Let’s admit up front that social media ROI sounds complicated and difficult.
It’s the letters R-O-I. They aren’t French for “king” (although I once told a boss that’s what it meant!)
ROI stands for return on investment.
Social media ROI gets down to basic math: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. If you’re like me, you probably learned this by fifth grade with Mrs. Nicktauser.
Take a deep breath.
After years of teaching marketing students finance and analytics, I believe arithmophobia is real. But I also know you can overcome it!
The real social media ROI challenge is that social media results are either not captured or are too difficult to assign a value.
Social Media ROI = [Return – Investment]/[Investment]
Financial value of social media results:
Social media may yield results without a direct monetary value (like email addresses). In this case, use a proxy based past results. Select a metric consistent with other more easily tracked options.
Direct financial value results:
Less direct financial results include:
Costs associated with social media include:
For most marketers there are 5 key reasons your social media ROI is 0.
As with any form of marketing, social media requires a strategy.
You can’t just jump in the social media pool and engage. Like an Olympic swimmer, you must have a set of social media goals and a related plan aligned to achieve those goals.
To this end:
Don’t just measure what’s available or easy-to-track. You need to support your social media marketing with your business objectives and related metrics.
You can’t assume your social media marketing will yield results directly. Social media can increase your email house file, improve prospect information, and improve influencer relationships.
Ask your audience to do something specific. Incorporate a call-to-action that’s tailored to the specific platform. Your call-to-action isn’t for sale but rather to the next step in the process.
This problem isn’t limited to social media.
Minimize the information you ask for. The more you ask, the more prospects you’ll lose.
Interest social media users in doing something aligned with the platform where they’re active.
While online sales are every marketer’s social media manna, it’s unrealistic to expect social media participants to be in buying mode.
Skip shouting me, me, me!
Social media is about caring about your community and giving them the information and support they need.
To get the maximum bang for your marketing dollar, integrate all of your marketing.
Tailor your content and advertising by platform when you initially create it. This minimizes costs and ensures consistency.
Utilize social media across your entire organization. Include customer service, sales and content distribution. Have a set of social media guidelines to ensure employees understand how to represent your company on different platforms!
Social media helps guide potential buyers to your product or information. Often before most companies start tracking actions leading to a sale.
Research shows the most social media interaction happens very early in the purchase process.
Both B2C and B2B customers start their research online and are at least 60% of the way through the purchase process before marketers realize that they’re in-market.
Add blogs to your social media mix. Offer the 5 basic of content types customers need before you know they’re shopping:
Social media can have a significant impact on whether you enter the prospect’s consideration set. Customers ask family, friends and social graph for input. All it takes is one bad experience with your firm or a great one with your competitor and you’re out before you strut your stuff.
Like product information, ratings and reviews may not appear on the top social media platforms. For example, most marketers consider Amazon to be a retailer. Yet 40+% of customers start their shopping research there.
You may be missing the opportunity to measure your social media marketing without realizing it.
Many marketers only give credit to the last marketing channel touched whether it’s easier-to-track search, email, affiliates or another option.
Alternatively, they only measure what they’ve captured. To ensure your social media has a measurable ROI, determine your metrics before you start a campaign. Check that your analytics system can track results.
Measuring social media ROI isn’t always straightforward or easy to track.
But you must set your social media marketing up to track results and measure success.
To this end, integrate your social media with the rest of your marketing. Social media can’t be a stand-alone function.
At a minimum, use your social media to support your content marketing distribution.
Even better incorporate a call-to-action in every piece of social media that has tracking incorporated into your metrics.
What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to help other marketers track their social media ROI?
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published June 6, 2011.
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