You’re excited, you’re committed, you’re finally going to do it. You are going to smash it on social media now that you’ve got approval and funding to engage online on behalf of your brand. However, there’s that little niggle – at some point, you are going to have to prove social media ROI.
The truth about social media ROI
Unfortunately for most SMEs, proving social media ROI is near impossible. The phone calls or tick boxes on a form that ask where did you hear about us, often just have the Google box ticked by your new customer or client by default! Simply because they just don’t know where they heard of you. ‘Google’ seems a logical and obvious option when you don’t know what specifically was the first point of contact you had with a brand.
The thing is, there are things you can do to help you ‘map’ the journey that people take from an initial social media click through to purchase. However, it’s a little fiddly and tracking things at this level is much easier once you either have a bigger team (that includes people with a specific digital marketing function) or bigger budgets to outsource your marketing. Either way, it’s also only really worthwhile setting up this level of tracking once you have an established website attracting a decent number of ‘hits’ on a weekly basis.
Measuring the ROI of social media
So let’s assume you have less than 1000 hits (sessions) on your website per month – you’re engaging in social media to increase traffic to your website, increase brand awareness and, of course, generate leads. How can you measure, and therefore prove social media ROI?
On a recent call, I was asked this question. The following list comes from the answer I gave and is not an exhaustive list. Every business is different, whether because of the fact it’s B2B, B2C, registered yesterday or 20 years ago, the size of the team, the number of platforms being used as part of the campaign, the sector, the strength of personal brand… you get my point! What I’m trying to say is that this is a specific list from a specific phone call with a specific business – some of these will be highly relevant to you, some less so.
Increase in overall website traffic
Increase in website traffic coming from social
Increase in traffic from organic search
Increase in total leads coming into your business
Ratio of leads to closed business improves
Cost per lead / Cost per aquisition improves
Increase in inbound leads
Decrease in cold calls
Healthier pipeline values
Increase in searches for your business name
Of course, in order to measure the items above – you need to know what your figures were before you drew the line in the sand and said from this day on we’re using social media marketing! There have been occasions where I’ve had to defend growth figures against a lack of historical data! (Very frustrating!)
Warning – it really isn’t all that simple to measure
Sometimes, even when you have the best tracking set up, things go wrong when you’re trying to measure social media ROI. There are a few reasons for this.
- People – We tag the information in our CRM incorrectly, forget to add something into the pipeline… human error can be responsible for a whole host of things! So something that should be tagged as coming via social gets tagged as coming through elsewhere!
- Social Media is a lubricant – Some of your prospects enter your sales and marketing ecosytem through social media, but for others who may have come from a different source, you’ll find it’s social media that has kept them swimming in your pool! Without the stickiness social media has provided to keep them engaged with your brand, you may never have won that deal! (I wonder how many more analogies I can squeeze into this point!)
- Dark Social – Have you ever seen something on social and then either emailed it or sent it via a message to a friend? Have you seen something on social, remembered it in a later conversation and then Googled something to try and find that article again? Have you followed a brand for so long that you don’t really know when or where you first came across it?
- You stop before you’ve had chance to get started – Without a doubt, anything social media related is a marathon and not a sprint. I’ve said it before in other articles; the results you achieve today are testament to the work you did 6 months ago. It takes time, and because social media is always changing the strategy and tactics you use need to also continuously adapt and change. (Just to prove a point – I’ve had another change ping in my emails while I’ve been writing this which means my next job is going to be to check a couple of things in Facebook Ads Manager!)
My belief is that if you are doing social the right way, you are invested in maintaining your presence long term and ensure consistency, then you will reap the rewards. You become a name in their household and instead of searching for the answer to a question, they’ll search for your brand knowing you can solve their problem
For larger businesses, measuring the ROI of social media in more detail is a feasible solution. However, for most SME business owners we work with (think 1-50 people in the business), looking at the list further up this article and measuring things with a ‘top level’ approach certainly helps when it comes to proving social media ROI!
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
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