Determining the return on investment (ROI) of your social media marketing efforts can seem like a daunting task. The internet is full of how-to guides and best practices promising results, but at the end of the day, how are you going to justify the time and money you’ve spent on social media marketing and reconcile it to your business goals? As a marketer, you not only need to prove the value of your efforts to the higher ups, you want to equip yourself with the data necessary to make decisions that drive great results, including campaign content and budget allocation. Let’s get started!
Define your goals.
Before starting to work with analytics, you need to ensure you’ve created goals for social media that roll up into your company’s objectives. It’s important to note that each company’s goals for social media will likely be different based on industry. A clothing company may more naturally use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to run social ads that drive sales. A marketing agency will likely find more success using social media channels to generate brand awareness for their business, and will focus more on engagement metrics or traffic to their website as opposed to conversions. Work with leadership in your company to determine how social media efforts fit into the company goals, and what objectives your strategy will help achieve.
Time to strategize!
Once you have a clear picture of how your social media marketing efforts fit into your company’s larger plan for growth, you can begin to set your strategy and determine which initiatives you’ll use to reach your goals. Depending on whether your primary objective is lead generation or brand awareness, you will need to plan campaigns, social ads, online community events, and curated content. Once you have your initiatives down, you’re ready to choose metrics. Your goal here should be to set metrics that are easily trackable and can show whether or not a particular campaign, ad, or event was successful. You have the option to benchmark against competitors, or you can choose numbers that are aspirational. Remember, even coming in under your target numbers teaches you something – experimentation and willingness to test your theories is key to success on ever-changing social media platforms!
Let’s get to the data.
You’ve already set your metrics, but now it’s time to measure. You may choose to wait until the completion of a campaign to pull numbers, or, if it’s running for an extended period of time, you’ll want to check how your content or ad is performing periodically in case you need to make adjustments. Here are the top in-app analytics tools you’ll want to be familiar with:
- Facebook Insights
- Facebook Analytics
- Facebook Ads Manager
- Twitter Analytics
- LinkedIn Analytics
- Instagram Analytics
- YouTube Analytics
In addition to these channel specific tools, you’ll want to get comfortable using Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to track organic and paid campaigns via UTMs, and you can create custom dashboards which show what traffic is being driven to your site from social media. If you’re running ads, you’ll also be able to set up goal conversions which tie a monetary value to actions taken by visitors to your site that are driven from social.
Once you’ve utilized Google Analytics to determine traffic and conversions driven by your campaign or ad, compare it with engagement metrics from the in-app analytics tool specific to each channel you’re using. Again, this is where it’s important to report on the metrics you set at the beginning – these numbers will show you which initiatives are actually successful in helping you reach your goals. Vanity metrics look pretty on paper, but hone in on the numbers that really help you make informed decisions about where to spend your time and money.
Sound like a lot of work? While in-app analytics tools arguably provide the most granular data, you can also opt for a social media management and analytics platform like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or Sprinklr. These companies integrate with your social media profiles and pull the numbers for you. You can export reports on engagement, impressions, top posts on the channel and more. If you have the budget and are looking to save time when it comes to reporting, utilizing a social media management tool can help streamline your social listening, brand monitoring, publishing and analytics. Regardless of whether you opt for this method, you’ll still want to make sure you’re utilizing Google Analytics to monitor traffic and specific campaigns via UTMs, or ensure you pick a platform that offers an integration that covers this.
The bottom line.
So, how do all these steps ensure you know the ROI of your social media marketing? While it’s tempting to categorize social media as a place to promote your brand creatively or blast content links, effective marketing on social channels takes strategic planning and thorough analysis. If you take the time to define your goals as they relate to your company’s objectives from the beginning, as well as determining the purpose of your presence on social media (i.e. lead generation, brand awareness) you can create metrics and track them in a way that yields actionable data. When you hold the numbers your campaign or ad returned against the metrics you set, you’re able to make smart marketing decisions about how to spend your time and budget in a way that gets results that matter for your business.
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