Quick Tips to Track Social ROI

The majority of brands know they should be on social (due to promises of higher customer engagement, more conversions, increased brand reach), but a near equal amount aren't sure if what they are putting in (time and money) is worth what they are getting out of it.

Even in 2016, companies are quite satisfied with reactions to their posts (e.g., likes, shares, comments), which leads them to track superficial gains rather than what social is doing to their bottom line (for better or worse).

Nobody, however, said that tracking social's return on investment (ROI) is easy, but there are some viable options to do so.

Build Your URLs

Google Analytics provides a URL builder, which allows marketers to create source-rich links to share across the Web and then track. For example, Facebook provides a Call-to-Action feature for business Pages, allowing the company to set its most important objective (e.g., sign up, learn more, etc.). By creating a source-rich URL, brands can set the parameters (where the person is coming from, what campaign is it) and then tie that to goals set within Google Analytics to track how many people are completing that objective via Facebook.

By tying a dollar amount to that goal completion (e.g., subscription, content download), brands can start to get a better picture of their efforts (in this case how much time an employee is spending on social) versus the reward (how many people completed their CTA). This same process can be repeated for sharing links within posts or on other social networks as well, but attention should be paid to the naming of campaigns, sources, etc., for consistent and easier reporting (e.g., Socialmedia-subscriptions can be one campaign even though different URLs will be shared with various source info, like with the different networks).

Track Time

Those responsible for acquisition and retention through social media often hold various other titles as well within their companies. This is why it's important to understand just how much time this person is spending on social alone. A homegrown time tracking system could work to breakdown their tasks, as can services like Toggle, Hours and Timely.

Look to Your CRM

As customer relationship management (CRM) and Web content management systems (CMS) get smarter, so too does the ability to track customer interactions across channels (especially in business to business when social is used for lead generation). For instance, if a software company has a gated whitepaper on "Best Social CRMs" and a person fills in their information, the company now has a lead that is logged into the CRM with source info (e.g., came from Facebook). If that person goes on to purchase any part of the software suite or makes direct contact with the company because of that whitepaper, that's a sale that can be directly or partially be attributed to social media (depending on the attribution model a company follows).

When using Salesforce, for instance, a marketer could assign and route posts to the best person to respond in marketing, sales, service, or anywhere in their company (this delegation can be automated as well).

Think About the Landing Page

Where are customers going when they click through from a social media posts to a website? While not all content should be gated, there should be some conversion path the person can take in order to (1) market to them again and (2) tie that conversion to social (either with a CRM or within Google Analytics).

PR agency Lewis, for example, shares stories from its blog on social media channels and has a noticeable yet not distracting CONTACT US call-to-action on that destination page, giving those social visitors something to act on (in addition to social channels they can reach them on), which furthers Lewis's acquisition initiatives.

Just Advertise Already

It's not a secret that organic reach (how people see content without a brand paying for it) is dramatically declining. If a company hasn't considered advertising on the various social networks, then the time to consider is now. Not only are there low-cost options (the company sets the budget), but there also robust reporting features to concretely say whether the time an enterprise put in (in this case it would be the creation of the content/ad/video) and the money (again set by the marketer) is worth what they got out of it (metrics include conversion rate, goal completion, etc.). For further reading, check out, "Accelerated Guide to Social Ad Targeting."

Prove It

The social media landscape is ever changing - from new networks gaining consumers' attention to the algorithm updates the networks make - but what will remain constant is the need to prove the channel is worth the investment. The tactics to prove this will undoubtedly change, but those who aren't making positive steps to do so now, are missing out on results-driven acquisition and retention.