‘Sanity Figures, Not Vanity Metrics’: Establishing Social Media ROI

Data, analytics and insight is something that I’ve always loved — I genuinely enjoy measurement and delving into the detail behind the numbers. I think it’s the key to keeping on top of your game, getting buy-in and, well… ensuring you’re not just wasting your time!

Social media in marketing terms is a fairly new kid on the block; when you also consider the fact that it can be hard to measure a return on investment (ROI) compared to other forms of marketing, you can understand why some may be sceptical about its worth.

Why ROI measurement is important

With any marketing activity, you should be looking to measure how successful your campaigns and activities have been. With social it’s especially important, here’s why:

  • You could change the perception of social within your company, labelling it a valuable tool in the marketing toolbox
  • Social can have a huge impact outside of the marketing department; measurement helps you demonstrates this
  • You can evaluate how your efforts are performing, and adjust accordingly
  • It can help you identify gaps in your content and overall strategy

Measuring your work is essential, but then being able to communicate this data to stakeholders of all levels, in the level of detail they require, is another challenge entirely.

Recently, I listened in live to a #HootSocialBreakfast — it really got me thinking about the importance of goal setting and measurement in social media. This stat in particular really shocked me:

If you’re struggling with measuring social media ROI, here’s a few things to remember:

Set your objectives carefully

If you haven’t got any clear objectives when it comes to social media, you can’t measure effectively. Outline some key (and SMART) goals, then work out how to measure them using the vast array of social metrics available to you.

When setting these, don’t pluck them out of the air. If your business is looking to achieve sales or increase brand awareness, ensure your social media goals align to these.

One size definitely does not fit all

There is no template approach to reporting when it comes to social media — yes, there are a lot of good places to start, but you need to adjust your reporting based on your specific KPIs and social media goals.

Don’t measure for the sake of measuring

There’s hundreds of metrics you could measure — it doesn’t mean you should measure it all! Managing social media can be extremely busy and varied, so there’s no point wasting your time tracking everything you possibly could — be selective.

Measuring impressions, retweets and likes can be beneficial, but only when they’re helping you meet some wider goal. Think sanity figures, not vanity metrics!

Use your data to look forward, not just back

When reporting on social media, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of simply measuring the success of what you’re already done — or ‘post-rationalising success’. But measurement should be much more than that — you should be able to use it to define what’s working and what isn’t, allowing you to adapt your approach for the future.

Adapt your reports for different stakeholders

Different levels of seniority (and levels of expertise in social media) will have completely different expectations from your reporting. Your CEO will want to know that you’re doing a good job and spending money wisely, but they might not be interested in the drop-off between Snaps in your most recent Snapchat Story.

Reporting in the right way can be hugely beneficial — for your CEO you’d be looking at the top level insights and how they’ve helped meet the wider business goals, not worrying about the nitty-gritty details. If you’re speaking in their language, you’re more likely to achieve buy-in and support for resources and campaigns going forwards.

Just as you would with your social media content, always think about the audience when producing your reports, and adapt them accordingly.

And a final thought…