The greatest challenge of social media marketing is finding a way to quantify its marketing value. Actions such as Likes, shares, and retweets shed insights on which kinds of content make the biggest impact on your target audience, but where and when does that translate to monetary or conversion values? In terms of concrete numbers, how can businesses actually measure the success of their social media marketing efforts?
The key lies in remembering that social media is about engagement, not sales. To evaluate the effectiveness of a social media campaign, don’t focus on measuring the activities themselves. Instead, figure out how those activities tie in to other marketing objectives you can measure.
Make sure you’ve defined measurable business goals.
Decide what you want to accomplish in the long run, and what your social media followers should do to help you get there. What do you consider a conversion? Are you trying to get followers to read your blog, subscribe to your newsletter, set up a consultation, upgrade a service plan, or actually make a product purchase?
Create a number system for your activities.
You can also convert your broader business objectives into specific money values. For instance, do you need to increase sale of a certain product by 5%, or attract 500 people to attend a gala event? Then, decide which types of social media interactions are more valuable toward attaining those ends – Likes? Shares? Retweets? Comments? – and assign each one a point value that you can tally up later.
Keep an eye on your website analytics.
Google Analytics is probably the easiest way to keep track of your social media-related conversions. Analytics data will tell you how many of your website visitors come from social media, which posts or offers they’re responding to, how many times they visit before they convert, how much they’re spending for direct purchases, and much more, based on your customized reporting parameters.
When setting up your reporting criteria, though, pay particular attention to your attribution models – that is, the rules that tell Google how to assign sales and conversion credit to different stages in your followers’ conversion paths. These can have a big influence on the way Google interprets social media’s role in your web conversions. For example:
- First interaction attribution gives 100% of the conversion credit to the original referral, where customers first became aware of and interested in your company. In other words, how many of your customers started out as social media followers?
- Last interaction attribution gives 100% of the conversion credit to the final referral (the one that actually triggers conversion). If you’re running a Facebook campaign asking followers to visit your website, for instance, how many of them are actually responding?
Also, when reviewing your analytics, look at the kind of conversions your social media drives. How frequent are they? What’s their monetary value (either through purchase data, or from customized numbers you assign)? What types of customers are best responding to your campaigns?
And don’t forget – listen to the conversation.
Social media is about consistent, active engagement with your followers – and you can use that information to identify and fix potential problems in your business process, or address common customer issues. Then, by calculating how much those improvements will increase your revenue or save on costs, you can get a more concrete idea of your return.