Note: This is part one of a series of posts about measuring ROI of Social Media

Picture this…..

You FINALLY convinced your boss to let you champion that social media marketing effort you’ve been pitching for a year. YAY! You’ve created an awesome social media strategy, joined Facebook and Twitter (and maybe even YouTube or wherever else your awesome strategy told you to join). You’re building your fan base, you’re engaging in conversation, and you are in front of your computer every second of every day waiting with baited breath for the next opportunity to respond. Seriously- it is flat out AWESOME!

Fast forward 6 months….

Your boss comes by your desk and asks you how that social media marketing effort is going. You tell her it’s GREAT (obviously, because you spent so much time working on it) and start rattling off how many followers you have and how great the engagement on your site is. She looks suspicious – it’s clear she does not understand how important social media is to your organization. Because you know she can fire you, you try explaining more. She stops you in the middle of, “Our fans are important because they engage with…..” pitch and tells you to schedule a meeting next week to review the progress. She also asks that you include the entire leadership team, including the CEO and CFO.

Panic Time!

You start to put together this awesome presentation showcasing your social media efforts, but quickly realize that you have no idea what you are measuring. You begin to panic and, as visions of the unemployment line start filling your head, you realize that you have no idea what to say to this group to prove that your social media efforts are critical to the company’s overall success. You do some research (Google: How to measure social media) and begin reading through blogs from social media “experts” who talk about engagement, brand awareness, etc. You realize quickly that you can’t actually measure the ROI of social media, but you can measure awareness and engagement. YAY! That’s what you’ll do- focus on engagement, follower count, and brand awareness. You’ll make sure to emphasize that you can’t really measure the ROI of social media by sticking a crafty line in your presentation that says “You put your pants on every day – how do you measure the ROI of that?”, explain why having fans or followers is good for your brand (you are right around 200 of each), and insert a few flashy graphics you found online. You also drop the word engagement a few times in your presentation – to impress, and conclude with, “We need to continue our efforts in social media because it’s vital to our organization”.

The problem: Your boss is actually pretty smart. And she isn’t buying it. She’s looking at the time you spend on Facebook and Twitter every day and thinks she’s paying you to goof off, only to spit out something about engagement and awareness. You know that social media is important to the organization and also know that discontinuing your social media efforts can damage your brand further, but you have no clue how to explain this to her. After you finish getting torn up by leadership, your boss (thankfully) gives you 3 more months but tells you to clean up your act and provide some tangible results. You are grateful for another shot, but feel overwhelmed.

Now what?

The truth is that you can measure the ROI of social media. It’s just not very easy to do. It involves a lot of thought, analysis, monitoring, tracking, and attention to details. The metrics you can use are often scattered, unfocused, and are often pulled from a gazillion different sources (okay, that may not be true, but it can be 4 or 5). Sorry- you are not in the minor leagues anymore! Simply saying, “We can’t do that” or, “I’m not sure” won’t cut it for long – businesses want (and expect) tangible results for their efforts, especially if they were reluctant to start a social media effort.

Before you start looking at all the data, you need to identify what you want measure and why you want to measure it. Are you trying to promote a new product? Encourage brand awareness? Get feedback from your customers? Share quality, informative content? Just like with an SEO awareness campaign, every company will have different goals, objectives, and reasons behind their social media efforts.

I told you earlier that this was the first of a series of blogs on this topic. In the next edition, I’ll go into more detail about how to set measurable goals/objectives to help you understand what metrics are important to measure for your business. In the meantime, your “homework” is to think about the following questions:

  • What do I want to know about my social media efforts?
  • Why do I want to know those things?
  • Why are these metrics important to my business?
  • In a perfect social media world, what would I measure?

Think about it…

Christina Torri works with Social Media and Internet Marketing clients for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry