Let’s face it. Social media marketing is no longer new. In fact, for organizations of all sizes, across all industries and sectors, participation and expertise on the social web has become mandatory. And yet after eight years (Facebook was launched in 2004), one of the toughest challenges still facing marketers is the ability to establish ROI for social marketing initiatives.
The root of this problem is easy enough to identify – it’s unclear how likes, fans and followers correlate to the business fundamentals of acquisition, brand loyalty, advocacy and conversion. But while describing the challenge is relatively simple, finding the solution is not.
Part of the problem is that there are a variety of individual social marketing platforms (i.e., Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.), which marketers have been monitoring separately. Add to that the complexity of monitoring this activity across multiple channels (i.e., mobile, website, apps), top it off with a disparate (or absent) collection of measurement tools, and you can see why this has been such a difficult puzzle to solve.
In fact, recent Altimeter Group research notes that a vast majority of companies do not have standard frameworks in place to measure social media’s value. For companies considered “advanced” users of social media, only 44% reported adequate measurement. For “intermediate” and “novice” users, fewer than 26% felt they knew how to adequately measure social media’s contributions.
That means there are still a lot of digital marketers in the dark about how to distill an accurate ROI from their social media efforts. If you feel like you’re one of them, you’re far from alone.
Without a measurement strategy in place, proving a return on investment across these social channels is next to impossible – both to establish and defend. So, what are some of the questions marketers should be asking when mapping out a measurable social media marketing strategy? Here’s a good place to start:
- What are the key goals of the program? A few examples might be to generate leads, increase sales or build brand loyalty. Be specific and make sure each goal is measurable. For example, if you want to increase sales, make sure your goal includes a specific percentage or amount.
- What audience are you trying to reach? Understanding the people you want to engage will help dictate the most effective social media platform. For example, Facebook is often a smart choice for B2C companies that want to build loyalty with consumers. Alternately Twitter is useful for helping to position B2B companies as industry thought leaders.
- What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you evaluate the success of your program? These are individual, quantifiable metrics such as:
- Twitter followers or Facebook fans
- Retweets or likes
- Views of your YouTube videos
- LinkedIn group members
- Blog comments
- Trackbacks to your blog
- Do these goals and tactics tie back to your broader business objectives? In order to prove the value of social marketing, organizations must align social measurement to existing business goals.
Another important consideration for your social media marketing plan is to place it within the context of a broader digital intelligence strategy – one that will provide a unified view of all site, mobile and social properties. This will enable you to understand social adoption and the effectiveness of your social media programs in the context of your other digital channels.
These are a few of the planning essentials that Webtrends has used successfully in building social media marketing programs. What are some of the ways you, fellow digital marketers, have found to establish ROI for your social marketing initiatives?
If you would like to read more about Webtrends’ Social Measurement Solution, check here.
For additional information on social media ROI from Altimeter Group, check here.