Measuring the success of social media

July 23, 2009

in Metrics, Social Media

I am certain that many of you reading this article have or will come up against the following questions with regard to social media campaigns: ‘how can we measure the value?’ or ‘where is the ROI in all of this?’

As a marketer, it is not enough to simply hope for the best with social media; you need to be able to quantify results and campaign activity.

You need to be able to justify to upper management that your marketing budget has been well spent.

With every marketing activity there are certainly ways to extract and measure value from a social media campaign or activity, both qualitative and quantitative.

The return itself comes directly from the objectives you want to address using social media and benchmarking the results against these objectives. The following should act as a guide when approaching any social media activity.

Set your success metrics

The execution of your social media campaign will be different to traditional marketing campaigns in its approach as you take into account transparency and open, honest communications – however, the planning should not differ.

When approaching social media, you first need to clearly define the success metrics you will use for the duration of the campaign before executing the strategy.

These success metrics will help you to understand where the return on investment will come from before investing your marketing budget in nurturing and supporting a new business community, paying for the production and development of online videos, product demonstrations, or even the cost of developing a corporate blog.

Without pre-defining metrics at the planning stage, you cannot feedback and refine strategies that could have an overall impact on the success of activity that will help shape future campaigns.

For example; if you are developing a strategy based on Twitter, your success metrics could be:

Quantitative: increased traffic to your website, number of sales leads, savings on customer relationship management, reduction in call centre costs, recruitment of new staff.

Qualitative: engagement with customers, types of communication, quality of followers, market research and feedback.

Social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, communities, blogs, podcasts and videos have many ways of contributing value.

Setting success metrics in the planning stage will help you identify the value social media can offer your business, at the same time as helping you measure the success and demonstrate the benefits of activity to your organisation.

Monitor, report and feedback

As your social media campaign unfolds, you should dedicate time to testing and tracking success.

By setting new or revised goals on a weekly or monthly basis you can monitor the progress of your campaign and improve and refine your campaign strategy.

Because social media is digital, you can look at cost-effectively incorporating multivariate testing (A/B testing) to see what messages or method of approach is most effective in generating quality connections, engagement, in-bound enquiries and increasing comments to blog posts. You can then filter out messages, posts, and activities that display better results from those that do not deliver good results. Refine and renew the campaign and feedback on the success.

With social media it is all about relationships and conversations. The strongest relationships in any form take time and effort to develop and sustain. When looking at return on investment with social media, think about the amount of effort you have put in and compare this to the value you expect to achieve.

The all-important ROI

When looking at ROI in relation to social media, try not to just look at the number of sales achieved as a result.

Instead, social media should be seen as a long-term investment that supports the sales cycle and customer relationship management – which later results in addition to sales and renewals.

Think of social media as a 360-degree campaign that adds value to your sales and marketing by building long-term relationships amongst communities, within your blog in terms of engagement through comments to posts, as well as organic traffic to your website.

Although these results may not immediately illustrate revenue they can, however, add value to the bottom line over time.

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07.24.09 at 4:24 am
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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }


Victorseo 07.24.09 at 1:58 am

I think that Olivier Blanchard @thebrandbuilder is pretty much the definitive authority on measuring the ROI of social media. He speaks to measuring the success of social media extensively. I highly recommend that anyone tasked with this responsibility to review Olivier’s post on this subject before spending another minute at it.


Bob Crawford 07.25.09 at 3:16 pm

Far too many people jump on the social media bandwagon without having a clear game plan. Social media can be a great way to leverage the net… or it can be a tremendous waste of time and effort. Understanding your ROI is the key to moving ahead in this area.



Jody Raines 01.04.10 at 7:25 am

Bravo! So many times I hear of organizations who want a Twitter account or hear that they should have a Facebook business page…yet they haven’t given thought to the purpose of these accounts. It starts with strategy - who do you want to reach? How can you best reach them? What is the message?
Plus social media is just that… SOCIAL. It’s a forum to meet, develop relationships and build a network. No one wants to hear annoying sale-sy messages… And without appropriate strategy, social media will not produce an ROI.
Thanks for your well-thought out article.


social media blog 05.17.10 at 8:26 am

Understanding and defining your objectives is probably the best place to start, are you brand building, increaseing sales, signups etc? Too many clients get into social media as part of a me too or herd mentailty. Great article, thanks.


Thando 07.30.10 at 3:17 pm

Thank you! Great article. It starts with strategy - who do you want to reach? How can you best reach them? What is the message? And I’ve seen it all in my work place social media works wonders!


David Zielski 07.31.10 at 1:05 pm

Great post. It is like the old saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” I like how you broke down the success metrics into both quantitative and qualitative measurements. I like to write social media marketing plans with all the ways we are going to measure success of the campaign so both we and the client can see how it is performing.




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