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What Metrics Drive the Most Tangible Social Media ROI Results?

6th July 2015

Forget Followers, Sentiment and Klout Score - Ana de Jesus Identifies the Social Media ROI Metrics Which Matter

Understanding Social Media (9780749473563) The following is an excerpt from Understanding Social Media edited by Damian Ryan. 

The question of what social media ROI means is still being asked. Some call it ‘return on engagement’ or ‘return on influence’. These describe a few of the ways in which companies are getting value from social media, but technically they do not describe real ROI. Social media ROI is a measure of financial impact.

That is not to say that the ways social media is beneficial to your company are not important – they are critical (and they also contribute to the company’s bottom line, albeit indirectly). The interactions and engagement your social media programme generates are not always linked to a sale, but they are important components in achieving business objectives.

Under this topic, we will be looking at the metrics that drive most tangible social media ROI results, whether directly related with sales or engagement, and at those that will not be accurate indicators of success.

What Matters

  • URL tracking: if your campaign goal is to drive people to a particular page on your website, by adding a tracking code on all links you can monitor through your analytics tool such as Google Analytics the number of unique page views, time on page and total pages viewed. By defining conversion goals based on the action that you want visitors to take, such as making a purchase, you can analyse direct campaign success.
  • Unique landing pages or voucher codes: when a campaign leads people to a unique landing page or incentivizes purchase using a voucher code, its success can easily be measured by analysing the number of people who purchased coming from that landing page or using that specific voucher code.
  • Share of voice (SOV): this refers to the number of conversations about your brand compared to your competitors’ brands, so you can understand how yours stands in the market versus competition. Are customers talking more positively about your brand? Has a specific social media campaign helped to increase the company’s SOV?
  • Share of conversation (SOC): this is defined by the topics and conversations that your customers care about. They may not be brand related but market related. For example, what people say on ‘comfortable footwear’ can be relevant for a shoemaker. So, by listening to what is being discussed around that topic with a tool such as Shoutlet, the shoemaker could drive a campaign to focus on what they find that is important for customers in regard to comfortable footwear.
  • Community insight data: when a campaign drives additional social profile data – such as contact information and other likes and interests – this feeds your marketing and customer support team with very useful insights. These can typically help you to segment your customer base to drive more targeted marketing and support that will, eventually, lead to more sales.

What Does Not Matter

  • Amount of friends, fans and followers: to measure the success of your campaigns based on your number of followers is a commonly established misconception of digital success measurement. The reason is that, just the fact that you have many people following or liking your brand on social channels does not actually mean they are engaged with what is being published and it certainly does not reflect your bottom-line revenue. For example, it may be that a specific campaign, such as an enticing competition, drives a large number of people to follow or like your brand page in order to enter the competition, but it does not reflect any future engagement or purchases.
  • Amount of retweets and comments: these ‘vanity metrics’ give a false sense of hope that your content is generating leads. Just as for the number of fans and followers, these might have been generated due to a particular campaign or topic that interested them, but do not reflect their purchase intention.
  • Sentiment: the sentiment measure refers to the amount of positive or negative comments across the web about your brand. Several tools can provide this measurement by using automated analytics that tag specific words, usually referred as negative or positive presenting their total representation. These, however, are not 100 per cent accurate – because if, for example, a tool tags a comment as negative for having the word ‘hate’ in the same sentence as the brand name, it is not considering sentences such as ‘I hate that I just missed out on the brand’s promotion’. So the best way to monitor sentiment accurately would actually be to go through each mention manually. However, will brands actually get results that affect their social ROI based on that analysis? Not necessarily. For example, Ryanair is probably one of the airlines with the highest negativity sentiment across the web, but it still remains Europe’s largest discount airline with over €1.5 billion in revenue.
  • Klout score: this is a number in the range 1-100 that represents the level of influence of a social account, where the highest scores represent the most influential accounts. Although this score is meant to measure your authority on a topic, it is not necessarily accurate. For one, it mainly focuses on quantity rather than quality, meaning that if a person or brand communicates frequently about subjects with meaningless importance, they will still score higher than someone who sends really insightful communications on the same topic but that is not as regular in publishing

The available measurement methods for social media success are varied and identifying what works best for your team does take time based on your social media goals. However, there are certainly metrics that can provide more tangible results towards your bottom line ROI than others. You should focus your efforts in measuring these metrics so you can prove the importance that your daily work has on the organization and, ultimately, justify to the executive team the need for further investment into social.

About the author: Ana de Jesus is the EMEA Marketing Manager for Shoutlet, a social media monitoring platform. She is responsible for driving Shoutlet’s marketing and communications strategy to meet local needs within the EMA region. Ana is a Chartered Marketer with over eight years’ experience in international marketing within the technology, finance and property industries and holds the CIM’s Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing.

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