Social Media ROIMonday, December 21, 2009 8:02
That question will eventually be asked by Senior Management. Unfortunately, that question is usually asked after the strategy has been planned, executed and in the wild for some time. At that point, the teams usually scramble to find any stats and data that show an up or down trend in… something before and something after the launch of the strategy. But how should you measure the ROI?
The tough part is figuring out what you’re going to measure. First, to get the obvious out of the way, if you have an eCommerce site, and you have a campaign that has specific targeted links to your shopping site, you can easily measure your ROI from increased sales through those links. We’ll leave that out of the discussion for this post.
In a social media strategy, your execution could potentially be free (not counting soft or brown dollars). If your campaign relies on internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) communicating and engaging with your audience using free channels such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, your incremental cost of the strategy can be close to $0.
On the flip side, you may have invested considerably into your strategy. What do you measure to see if you’re reaching your objectives? The answer ties back to your Digital Strategy. When you discovered your objectives in your Digital Strategy, you decided what you were going to measure, right? If only life was so easy.
Qualitative vs. Quantitative:
The problem usually comes down to the old “Qualitative vs. Quantitative” issue. You want to achieve qualitative results, but measure them in a quantitative, unambiguous way. Typical objectives of a Social Media campaign may include:
- Increase customer loyalty
- Provide better customer support online
- Encourage brand evangelism
- Increase trust in our company
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase the influence of our brand
All reasonably valid. The tough part is finding the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure them. A common suggestion is, ‘Double (or Triple) the number of followers we have on Twitter.’ Achieving that is not too difficult if your execution team is actively engaging people on the right platforms. But the question is, ‘what does that achieve’? Is it better to get 1,000 random new followers on Twitter, or 100 targeted new followers that are qualified leads, in the right places, that will lead to one of your qualitative objectives? The goal here is to lay out your qualitative measures and make them quantifiable. They need to be defined at the outset, to avoid the tendency to measure any statistic that is going up as a sign of success!
What to measure?
Examples of KPIs from qualitative success criteria include:
- Reduction in support calls and emails from baseline
- Number of blogs relevant to our industry that posted something about our brand (good or bad)
- Number of influential Twitterers that tweeted something about us
- those influential blogs and Twitterers have to be identified in your Strategy before you execute the campaign
- Number of repeat visits to our main site or micro-site
- Increase in average session length or page views
- Number of new comments on our blogs / posts / support forums
- Number of comments on other blogs / posts / forums made by our team that elicited a positive response from others
- Increase in Google PageRank against baseline
Of course, there are many more things you can attempt to measure to see if your qualitative objectives are quantitatively achieved. These measures also give you something to hang your hat on as you continue to refine your tactics to achieve those goals.