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Social Media ROI: What You Should Be Doing and Why
Posted on April 23rd 2014
Social media is not solely about making a direct conversion, but it does play a key role in the sales funnel. As such, it should be properly tracked to ensure that conversions are occurring as a result of social efforts. Social media is all about building relationships, developing bonds, and influencing customer conversions—and if you’re not tracking the effectiveness of your social media campaigns properly, you could be missing out on important details that could lead you to higher conversions and an improved social media ROI.
Gone are the days when fan counts and traffic are all we should care about—digital marketers are faced with evolving attitudes toward what actually constitutes an effective digital marketing campaign. Today’s campaigns are all about converting visitors, fans, followers and the like into customers. Reliable indicators as to what constitutes an effective social media campaign are out there—you just need to know what you should be doing to track ROI (and why).
Tracking Conversions Across Multiple Tools
There are many different tools available to make social media management more productive and efficient, including Buffer, SproutSocial, Hootsuite, and BundlePost. Such tools do make it easy to schedule and post content across multiple channels. Some even provide analytics tools that make it easier to see which social media posts resonate with readers and trigger responses and which do not.
One element that is lacking in such tools, however, is the ability to truly drill down into actual conversions and how a social campaign has influenced the conversion process of a customer. According to Unbounce.com, the newly released Google Analytics 5 tool now provides marketers a comprehensive view of campaign performance complete with conversion metrics driven across multiple channels.
By setting up goals in Google Analytics, marketers can track the following:
- Actual social media referral traffic that comes into a website
- Conversions, such as:
- When someone from a social media referral purchases an item.
- When someone from a social media referral enters information into a form.
- When someone from a social media referral downloads a report or newsletter or other item from a site.
- When someone from a social media referral clicks on a social media button such as a “Follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook.”
- Bounce rate for visitors referred to a site from social media
- Average session time for visitors referred from social media
Tracking Social Media Engagement
Conversions occur when users interact with one another or with your brand. As such, it’s only fitting to say that one of the most effective ways to measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign is not to measure the number of fans or followers, but to monitor and analyze conversations and the effectiveness of social media engagement. According to a recent post on Moz.com, “engagement is a great goal, because it can impact the business by increasing traffic, growing brand awareness, talking with community members, showing your voice. But “engagement” isn’t a simple number like followers.”
Engagement refers to interactions with your brand, such as:
As Moz.com points out, comments, views, and shares are great, but ultimately, they only report activity. They do not give you a clear picture of the outcomes that took place because of that activity. In order to obtain that type of insight into engagement, you also need to track a number of other elements, including conversation rate, amplification rate, applause rate, visits from each channel, and channel growth. Some metrics, such as conversation rate, are fairly easy to view and target at a glance. It's simply the number of comments or replies received on posts, pins, tweets, etc.
Things become a bit more complicated when you begin looking at metrics such as amplification rate, which refers to content that is amplified or shared. Every social media channel on the planet allows you to do this, so the potential here is massive. Applause rates are basically just what they sound like. They offer the opportunity for visitors to demonstrate their appreciation for posted content. Whether it is a Like on Facebook, a Favorite on Twitter, or a +1 on Google+, it all amounts to the same thing.
Tracking engagement is made easier with various tools these days such as SproutSocial, which allows digital marketers to track social engagement of their brand by monitoring specific hashtags and topics. In fact, SproutSocial now offers a specific Engagement Report that provides insight into trends in engagement. This analytics tool will also allow you to evaluate how you stack up against the competition.
TrueSocialMetrics.com is another excellent tool that can be used to calculate the social engagement metrics of a campaign. This tool provides historical data on multiple social networks including user engagement data such as replies, shares, RTs, and Channel Growth. All of this data can be used to develop baseline reports and growth reports that justify the effectiveness (or lack of effectiveness) of a social media campaign.
The Bottom Line
When digital marketers make the shift from focusing on social media followers and friends to focusing on how those followers and friends convert into paying customers, the true power of social influence can be seen. Social growth, engagement metrics, and overall conversions that result from social media efforts are of paramount importance in every digital marketer’s arsenal. The marketers that employ effective social media conversion metrics to establish goals and to learn more about their social media marketing campaigns are likely to experience significant improvements in the number of customers that are gained or positively influenced through their social efforts.