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Tracking Social Media ROI Part 2

 by zack on 12 Sep 2013 |
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Welcome back to the Ashop blog’s post series on the investigation and application of social media metrics in reference to determining Return of Investment. Much like that first sentence, like this subject, is more than a mouthful. So to keep from biting off more than we can chew, the subject matter has been separated into 3 nicely digestible posts for your palatal pleasure. But enough of the appetitious metaphors and made-up words. It’s time to get back to business.

Part one of this post series covered the different types of metrics that can help you track your Social Media ROI, but today we’ll begin a new conversation about how to go about tracking these elusive data bytes.

How to Track Social ROI

There are a lot of different ways to measure the most relevant metrics to your social ROI. Many popular software suites are available to keep track specifically of social media conversions, as well as all of the different metrics we went over in our last post. Google Analytics has many distinctive functions geared toward social tracking.

Then there are the social marketing platforms that are specific to the network itself. This can be something like Facebook Insights or Twitter’s advanced interface for marketers, available at:

Finally, there are the sneaky backdoor methods available to everyone through simple and effective tactics like coupon codes.

These broadly diverse methods each have their own merits, and bear a bit of close scrutiny to properly determine which will be most effective for a specific campaign. So let’s dive in with the different categories and see what insights we can gather.

Software for social ROI tracking

Hootsuite might be a silly name, but it more than makes up for that with its functionality. Hootsuite is a software package that allows you to manage all of your social media marketing efforts. It has over 6 million users, and for good reason. Using Hootsuite, you can schedule and track all of your social media mentions, engagement actions, and conversions across multiple platforms. This Handy bit of software can be integrated into Google Analytics, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Which I’d like to point out is a type of lettuce, since I feel like keeping the food metaphors going.

Hootsuite schedules your tweets, charts your follower’s interactions with your content, and provides you with in-depth metrics for a variety of different subjects. It’s a very useful tool for social media marketers, and it’s extremely affordable. It has a free introductory option, as well as an $8.99 per month expanded package. There is a more comprehensive and versatile “Enterprise” package meant for large corporations that you can purchase for significantly more than that as well.
This kind of application can be very helpful to your burgeoning social media efforts. Having all of your feeds documented in one space can simplify your workload, and having all of the statistics for your various posts displayed is useful for your overall social tracking efforts. There are many other software suites with similar applications to Hootsuite, but it is probably the most prevalent.

Google Analytics has embedded tracking codes that you can add to your pages in order to integrate social media metrics into your GA dashboard. There are in-depth tutorials on how to setup social tracking available through this hyperlink.

You’ll want to explore all of the different options available, because tagging your different social campaigns properly to get them appearing correctly in your Google Analytics dashboard can be quite complicated.

You can use the metrics you acquire through this process to better understand your brand’s position across multiple networks, and GA social tracking is actually easily integrated with other software suites such as the Hootsuite packages we discussed above.

Perhaps best of all, Google Analytics can track monetary value acquired from each social network with its Conversions Reports. Though this again requires you to set up specific goals for which conversions you want to track. The setup tutorials are also available through the following hyperlink.

Facebook Insights is designed to help you understand how your followers are interacting with your pages and posts. With Facebook Insights you can discover the total number of likes your page receives, the number of friends that your fans have, as well as the number of fans. You can also measure a lot of engagement actions such as: comments or shares, event responses, page mentions, tags, or Place check-ins and recommendations.

Additionally, Facebook Insights will clue you in to the Total Reach your page possesses. This is the number of people that any of your pieces of content might have appeared in front of on their feeds. Total Reach also includes any sponsored ads or stories that you’ve promoted through your Facebook page. This can be helpful in measuring such intangible aspects to your social ROI like buzz and brand recognition.

Twitter has a few options for monitoring your metrics on their social platform. You can watch your Promoted Tweet’s performance via their Timeline Activity Dashboard.  This will allow you to track mentions, follows, reach, and a few more relevant metrics. There is also a follower’s dashboard where you can learn about your audience’s interests and their engagement with your content. You can also use this second dashboard to gather geographic information about them, which can come in handy when promoting special offers.

Finally, Twitter has a list of certified partners that serve a variety of functions. Twitter actively promotes a long list of companies that offer products or services which mesh well with Twitter data about customer behavior and engagement, as well as general information gathered from public tweets. Take a look at this list here.

Social Tracking Best Practices

The advice in this section is mostly common sense. However, it can also be easily overlooked without the benefit of experience.
  • Promote offers-This is a simple one, but if you want to take a sample measure of your social ROI, you can run some experiments with special offers. For example, you could promote a special offer with your Newsletter. Then promote the same offer with your social networking accounts. Switch up the offers with different platforms over time, and chart the results. That way you can get an idea of how your offers perform with newsletters vs. social media promotions.  This is obviously a very malleable template for experimentation, so be creative and record the results.
  • Coupon codes- Again, a very simple method, but you can use different coupon codes for different social media sources. That way each outlet will have a specific code, and according to which code is used you’ll know exactly where each conversion originates from.
  • Conduct surveys- If you want to know, you can always just ask. At the end of your opt-in form, attach a survey asking your customers where they heard about your company. This can help you find out additional information about your most effective sources of revenue, that you might not have gotten with source segmented traffic reports alone.

Determining Social ROI

Let’s not forget an important point about determining social ROI. It’s about measuring money made versus money spent. Put into a simple formula, it looks like this:

Value of Social Media Marketing Efforts/Cost of Social Media Marketing Efforts= Social Media ROI

So to properly determine your Social ROI, it’s very important to know how much capital you’re drawing in as a direct result of your social media marketing. Naturally, it’s in your best interest to know how much money you were making before and after developing a social media presence. This should certainly be feasible if you’ve been keeping good records, or if you haven’t yet started your social media efforts.

Either way, find out where your bottom line is before taking social media into account. By doing so, you will save you a lot of time and stress by avoiding extra calculations to try to account for social media’s piece of the profit pie. To calculate your social ROI, you have to take the information you gathered from the metrics and plug them into the above formula.

Let’s draw a hypothetical to get a solidified idea of how this process might work.
Imagine that your site is bringing in $50,000 a month. By segmenting your traffic by source, you determine that your social media efforts are responsible for 15,000 visitors to your site in the same time period. Of those 15,000, only 1,000 made purchases. The value of those 1,000 purchases was $5,000. So one tenth of your total revenue is brought in by social media marketing.

Compare that to your social media spend which for simplicity sake, we’ll say is $2,500. Thus you’ve doubled your investment. Your social media efforts are valued at 5 thousand, can be divided by the cost=$2,500. So the simple formula we’ll use is: 5,000/2,500=2. Multiply that by 100 to represent it as a percentage and your Social ROI is at 200%.

Not too shabby.

Of course the real challenge is finding all of the numbers that we arbitrarily made up for the purposes of the example. But again, with the proper tools of the trade, and the intelligent methods laid out for tracking the purchases from start to finish, you should be perfectly fine throughout the entire process.

However, one question remains. What should you do if your numbers aren’t quite as ideal as the ones show in the example above? What if your SMMROI is hovering slightly lower? Say around .09%. At that point your social media efforts are operating at a loss. This is obviously no good. So what should you do? Abandon social media marketing as a bad investment? Well, that certainly seems like regression rather than progression. We’ll take a look at some of the best ways to improve your Social ROI in the final installment of our post series. See you next time!


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