This is a guest post by Alison Battisby. She is the director of Avocado Social, and is an experienced social media trainer having run workshops for leading brands including Debenhams, Legal and General, EDF Energy and Neal’s Yard Remedies. She has 6 years of experience in social media having managed campaigns for Tesco, Nokia, Pringles and Brita Water. She also has a passion for helping start-ups and small businesses grow, speaks regularly about social media.

Whether you are promoting an event, or delivering a great customer service experience – social media is now required as part of a marketing strategy.

Although it’s technically free to use, it does take a lot of time and effort to make your campaign stand out, particularly if you are a small or relatively unknown company.

It’s all very well spending hours a day using social media, but how can you justify the cost of your time or a full time employee’s time? How do you figure out the return on investment for your business? Here are 5 steps to follow:

1. Work out your main objectives

Working out your main objectives for using social media will help you to understand what is working. Most businesses cite brand awareness as their main objectives, as it’s a fantastic place to get your logo and name recognised by your target audience. In this case, measuring traffic to your website or overall mentions of your brand online are good metrics to regularly analyse.

If you are looking to drive traffic back to your website, then what particular activities are you hoping your customers will complete? Is it sales, or brochure downloads, or gathering email addresses? These are your website conversions.

2. Hook up Google Analytics to your website

Google Analytics is one of the best free ways of measuring your social media performance. If you aren’t using it already, then it’s essential to start using it to track activity on your website.

In terms of social media, you can measure how much traffic is sent back to your site from each of the main social media platforms. Bear in mind some platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram do not necessarily drive traffic straight back to your website though so it may not give you a clear picture of the most effective one.

3. Keep track of reach

Facebook and Twitter themselves offer pretty decent insights sections, which allow you to look at your reach and impressions of your posts. This means how many newsfeeds your content was pushed into, and is worth keeping an eye on to monitor peaks and troughs to work out which content has really flown and what has bombed. Make a note of the content that works best for you – both Facebook and Twitter offer insight on your best performing posts within analytics.

If you are looking to get ahead of your competitors, you can look at tools such as Pulsar to measure your brand’s “share of voice” across the web by looking at their brand mentions. The more mentions you need to track, the more expensive your measurement activity will become, as many of the top tools are paid for.

4. Look at community numbers and engagement

You should regularly measure the number of fans, followers, blog subscribers and email subscribers each month to gauge the size of your community. Once you have been collecting this data for over a year, you might begin to see patterns such as busy months and quiet months. Set a process for this activity, such as the last day of every month. Tools like Sprout Social gather all of your engagement figures for you and allow you to download these reports.

Tracking ROI of Social Media

5. Use pixel tracking

If you are looking to specifically measure conversions on your website, then pixel tracking is recommended. This will allow you to track exactly where your conversion traffic has come from. Google Analytics offers a good option here, but also Facebook allows you to add pixel tracking to your adverts, which is particularly useful as you can work out exactly how much return for your buck you are getting.

Tracking ROI of Social Media

Conclusion

Working out exactly what your business needs to report on is the first step to take, and then to create a regular report, which you can build upon and learn what kind of a role social media plays for your business.

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