I’m going start with a statement you may not agreement with – your success when using social media for your business is not always going to translate into dollars and cents.
Yes, your return on your social media marketing will not always be money.
Let that sink in. If you think you are going to make thousands of dollars for your business by using social media to market it, you are wrong. The chances are very high that you won’t make anything – in terms of dollars and cents.
What you determine your return for using social media to market your business is is determined by what you define your ultimate end goal as being when you write your social media strategy. Your social media strategy should include WHY you are using social media for your business and WHAT YOUR END GOAL IS of those efforts.
Your end goal in using social media could be any of the following:
- Increased brand awareness (this is the most popular reason businesses are using social media, BTW)
- Building an online community
- Generate Leads
Your success on social media will be determined on what that end goal is, compared to the results of your social media marketing efforts.
However, businesses are sorely lacking in actually measuring their social media marketing efforts. Many will post and never look back to analyze what worked and what didn’t, and what they can do better or different.
Measuring your social media efforts is different than measuring ROI on something tangible, say an expo event or a speaking engagement. When you look at ROI, you are looking at a return on your investment, and that almost always relates to money. Measuring success in social media marketing takes looking at many different factors and bringing them together like pieces of a puzzle. Some are easy to track, some are a bit harder.
Mark Schaefer wrote the book Social Media Explained a few years ago and in Chapter 6 he goes into explaining why you have to measure your social marketing efforts and activities. There were 4 points he made:
- There is an implied value to everything.
- If we are expending human effort, it should be justified.
- If you’re not measuring, how do you know you are making progress?
- There is no excuse not to measure.
I’d like to call your attention to numbers 3 & 4. First of all, I want to say AMEN to number 3. Seriously, if you’re not measuring what you are doing, how do you know if it is working at all? As for number 4, if you are given an excuse as to why you can’t measure what you are doing, well, that’s just a cop out.
Mark also points out in the book that not all ROI (success) is quantitative – some is qualitative. There are some elements you can measure but you can’t put a dollar value on it.
Let me share with you what I consider to be measures of success in social media marketing (and these are in no particular order).
Social Media Marketing Effort Benchmarks
- Community Growth
- Did you see an increase in the number of people in your community? Was there a decline? Why?
- Engagement Levels
- Did you provide quality content that inspired likes, comments, shares, retweets, pins, etc.? If so, you would measure that a positive, if not, figure out what didn’t work and try again.
- Offer Redemptions
- Did you post an offer for our community? How many people redeemed it? Did you receive any leads from it?
- Contest Entries
- Did your contest entries provide you with any leads or sales? Did it attribute to any community growth?
- How many people clicked through your content? It could have been a picture, link, ad, contest, etc. Did you see an increase in your click-thru rate over last month? NOTE: Make sure to check your Google Analytics as well on this one!
- Overall Sales
- How did you overall sales look compared to the amount of time you spent on social media marketing? Can you attribute any sales increases or decreases to your efforts?
- Conversions (tracking pixels for ads)
- Did you track any website conversions from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook ads? If so, was there an increase or decrease over the past month. NOTE: Check your Google Analytics too.
- Did you see an increase or decrease in your email or app subscriber base? Was any of that a result of your social media marketing efforts?
As you can see, more than just how much money you made can go into figuring out if your social media efforts were successful. What you want to look for are positive increases each month, no matter how small those increases are.
Using social media to market your business is ultimately about relationship-building, building that trust and loyalty with your fanbase. The sales will come from that, sometimes sooner rather than later. But remember, you have to have a purpose in every action you take on social media – and remember your end goal at the same time.
So please share with me, how do you measure success in your or your clients’ social media marketing efforts?
Mandy Edwards is the founder of ME Marketing Services, a marketing company specializing in digital & social media marketing located in Statesboro, Georgia. A proud graduate of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia she has a thorough marketing background of 17+ years. In the fall you can find her along with her family at Sanford Stadium cheering on their beloved Georgia Bulldogs. Mandy has been mentioned in Forbes, named to the Statesboro Herald’s Top 20 under 40, has been ranked as a Top 100 Social Media Power Influencer by StatSocial and is a Sprout Social All-Star Elite. In 2016 she was recognized as a member of the University of Georgia’s top 40 Under 40 Alumni.