Using social media for business became an important and growing strategy in 2008. Now that we better understand the use and importance of social media campaigns, the next question becomes, how do we measure its success? More business people and executives and wondering where are the numbers and what they mean when determining social media return on investment (ROI). Companies agree money should be spent on social media, but do not understand how to determine effectiveness and how to allocate a budget for these efforts. The answer is, there is no set answer. ROI is different for each industry because companies have their own social media objectives and reasons for implementing a campaign. ROI can still be considered and loosely measured, but more similar to the way a PR campaign is measured and not a solid marketing campaign where it is simply a numbers game.
A way to determine ROI metrics, is to create the campaign and benchmark metrics with objectives in mind. Track progress through numbers and questions throughout and with at the end with a specific time frame in mind. For instance, is your objective simply to increase site traffic? If so, you can use Google Analytics to analyze site traffic and measure weekly or monthly to determine success. If you want to track site visibility and SEO ranking, then you can use other Internet tools to determine the number of incoming links you are receiving through blog posts or other sites linking to your site/blog. Also, if you have a twitter or Facebook account, you can track your "friends" or "followers" for quantity and engagement. If you have 800 twitter followers, are you actively engaging in conversation with them and are you providing valuable information to encourage communication? Or are your objectives to penetrate new markets and reach people that previously did not know you existed/had a voice? In that case, you need to determine your reputation and branding success through opinions. You could possibly do some Internet research and human analysis to determine if those efforts proved a success.
Since social media does not have set standards for ROI, the entire campaign including goals, objectives, benchmarks and expectations need to be set in the beginning and tracked throughout to prove or disprove final success. Be sure the final goal and expectations are aligned and that they stay aligned throughout the run of the campaign. If they stray, adjustments need to be considered based on final goals and implemented tactics.
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