Somewhere along the way your boss asks you about your social media ROI and you're not sure what to say. Should you tell him you got a bunch of Facebook posts last month?
Social media metrics are only the first step in determining if social media is really helping your business. The next step to analyzing your data is to ask yourself these 4 key questions to prove social media ROI.
1. Have you noticed any pattern changes?
After a few months of using social media, you’ll begin to understand how the metrics work. You'll get a feel for growth expectations, engagement activity, and website traffic coming from social media.
This is an important part of proving your social media ROI, because you need to be able to recognize when your data starts to vary from the norm. Then you can ask yourself, “why?” and perform an investigation.
Did it happen on one network or all the networks? Were there a couple of highly engaged posts, or was it a spike across the board?
When you ask yourself these questions, the answers will have big implications toward your strategy, which you should be optimizing over time.
2. Now that I've noticed some changes in my metric patterns, is there any correlation between them?
Look more closely at your numbers from the month and see if there were any spikes, dips, or noticeable changes. If so, you have correlations and need to determine the cause.
Here’s an example. Say you saw a spike in Facebook postings and a spike in web traffic referrals from social media. You'll need to ask these questions to determine the cause:
Did more web traffic come from Facebook vs. the other social networks than you usually receive? Or was the spike on another medium? If it’s the latter, then the spike did not affect your web traffic but was rather a cause by another medium.
Did your postings receive more comments than average, or were just a few high-performing posts throwing off your average? Did the high-performing posts create more web traffic? Sometimes if you shift topics, posting frequency or timing on one or more mediums, that could create cause.
3. Does my company have any changes have coming down the pipeline?
For example, are you introducing a new product or is something major happening in your industry? Even if the change in question doesn’t directly involve social media, you still need to be aware of it as you’re tracking your metrics.
We all know that social media metrics have come a long way but what you may not realize is that you can’t measure everything. Bottom line is that social media is interacting with thousands of people on a daily basis, and their reactions are driven by emotions not data.
Let's say you own a candy store and you see a major dip across all of your social networks one month. You know you haven't done anything differently on social media, but if you've been paying attention to external factors, you’ll know that the competition across the street is running a major candy campaign that is stealing your traffic. While this may be an obvious example, it's your job as the social media expert to understand every internal and external facet of your business to do your job effectively.
4. What are my numbers not telling me?
In an ideal world, people will see your post on Facebook, click on the Google Analytics optimized link, then go to your website and take an action. You will track all of this and have a complete and immediate picture of your social media ROI. The reality is usually not exactly like that. Social media is often the first touch point for potential customers and clients but rarely the last.
A few weeks ago I checked out the Planet Fitness website and may have clicked “follow” on their Twitter link. Later on I came across their flyer in the parking lot next to a coffee shop I frequent. I remembered what I had seen on their website and eventually ended up using one of their "guest" day passes.
Planet Fitness has no way to track my participation back to Twitter (unless, of course, they’re reading this blog post). But Twitter produced a social media ROI for them that they are unable to measure. While some of it is an act of faith, here are two ways you can prove your social media ROI when your social media numbers aren’t speaking to you:
Take a look at your numbers. Have your sales, leads or customers grown in conjunction with your increase in social media? You can use this along with information about the importance of social media to make a strong case for your social media ROI.
When someone says something positive about your brand on social media, make sure to take a screenshot of it. This could be anything from “I love your product!” to people talking about how they recently made a purchase from you. Remember – these testimonials are going to carry a lot more weight coming from real clients and customers than they would coming from you.
Remember, social media can be the first point of exposure, the last, or anywhere in-between.