Prove ROI from Social Media Engagement
With marketers under unprecedented pressure to prove the value of every marketing pound, here’s how to meet the social media evaluation challenge.
Leading marketers expect to devote 9% of their marketing budget to social media in 2014 – and as much as 16% by 2018. It's not hard to see why. The benefits of using social media are widely acknowledged, such as:
- More business exposure and building of brand awareness.
- Rise in search engine rankings.
- Increase in lead generation.
- Gathering of marketplace intelligence.
- Reduction in marketing expenses.
Research from Oracle Marketing Cloud says that social referral traffic has doubled year on year as marketers have diversified investment in social channels beyond Facebook. And 'influencers' have the potential to trigger six times more conversions when they share a brand's content on social channels.
However, in a recent SelectMinds survey, while 72% of executives regularly use social media for recruitment and 69% for brand engagement and awareness, few can agree when it comes to evaluation best practice – they are far more likely to agree on the impossibility of effectively measuring its ROI.
ROI from social media engagement – where to begin?
An important starting point for any organisation seeking to meet the social media evaluation challenge is to understand the array of tactics already in use to assess what can be improved and how.
In the SelectMinds study:
– 86% of respondents maintained a presence on Facebook.
– 82% of respondents maintained a LinkedIn group.
– 71% of respondents maintained a Twitter account.
Social media was seen as an effective platform:
– for communications by 60%.
– for improving brand awareness by 57%.
– for increasing marketing effectiveness by 55%.
Evaluation by these companies focused mainly around easy-to-count measures such as:
– hires via social mediaa metric used by 66% of respondents.
– website visitors a metric used by 65% of respondents.
– Facebook fans a metric used by 63% of respondents.
Only 27% measured cost savings and just 10% measured revenues increased – two bread-and-butter traditional ROI metrics.
Use metrics that count
According to a recent survey of Chief Marketing Officers, between 2010 and 2013, the percentage of marketers using a revenue-per-customer metric on social media decreased from 17% to 9%. The reason? Growing consensus that traditional ROI metrics alone are not the answer and a belief that those most successfully evaluating their social media are doing so by focusing on tracking audience reach, engagement and sentiment.
For example, Facebook 'shares' are particularly valuable, as normal users' posts are seen in a relatively high percentage of friends' newsfeeds when compared to posts by brand pages. Which is why it is important to go beyond top line metrics, to apply analytics across disparate channels to answer key questions such as: what motivates someone to post a Facebook 'like' then visit your website and make a purchase?
Valuable tools at your fingertips
Canny organisations understand the plethora of utilities already available to help. For instance:
- Facebook Page Insights allows users to dig into optimal timings for posts or optimal content formats to maximise engagement.
- TweetReach enables the user to break down, then compare and contrast impressions, exposure and approximate reach of past tweets.
The moral is simple. It's not just more data that's the key to successful social media evaluation but better data. Value, not volume, then, is what will really count.
- Traditional ROI metrics are not the answer for measuring social media engagement.
- Focus on tracking audience reach, engagement and sentiment.
- Apply analytics across social channels, to increase your chances of accurate evaluation.