How to Begin Evaluating Social Marketing Efforts

How can we better evaluate our social marketing efforts and find ROI for our organization?

It’s the question that always comes up, social media ROI and how can it be measured? Nowadays when I hear this it just means something different to me, it’s a marketer asking in a roundabout way where do I begin to measure my social media marketing initiatives?

Let’s establish a baseline so we can build a foundation that takes a look at multiple areas of your business.  This way we can begin to look for metrics that give us a complete picture of what is going on instead of just narrowly focusing in on a small subset of metrics.

A few years ago Forrester Research had identified four perspectives for you to consider when evaluating your social efforts, these four values still ring true today.

Social Media ROI
Four social media ROI factors

1. Financial Perspective – Has revenue or profit increased or costs decreased?

 As social media budgets increase we are afforded opportunities to invest in social advertising in addition to social media tools that are designed to make a digital marketers job more efficient and measurable. With all the dollars going out what factors should we take into consideration for measurement? 

Ask yourself:

  • What is the current goal or objective to achieve through social marketing?
  • Are you allocating dollars towards social ads?
  • If so are the available ad metrics supporting your marketing goals?
  • Can you directly attribute social posts or ads to revenue?
  • Do the social media management tools you currently use or are looking to use specifically make your teams more effective in social marketing?
  • How many people do you have dedicated to working on social?

Investing in the right social relationship platform can make your team more efficient and allow for you to measure those efforts. Look for a solution that is flexible and can be customized for each user to fit their specific role. Does your vendor offer services? If so, it’s likely that the platform lacks certain things that need to be made up for with professional services. Always be sure to test platforms out in pilot environments that mimic your working situations. 

2. Brand Perspective – Have the consumer attitudes of the brand improved?

Listening across the web is the ultimate focus group. At your fingertips you have the ability to understand how visible your brand is in comparison to your competitors. Look for gaps in the market with what your consumers are wanting that isn’t being delivered, identify what your customers like about your brand/products, and what certain types of people (teenagers, mothers, etc.) think about specific products/topics/brands.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you actively or passively listening across the web to see the context in which people are discussing your brand?
  • Does your listening platform give your entire team an easy way to set up  keyword based campaigns and easy to understand data?
  • What is the sentiment behind how people are discussing your brand or products?
  • How are you stacking up socially against your competition? Think growth and engagement in addition to listening to how their audience is talking about them.
  • Are there specific topics that your audience is passionate about and are you closely watching those discussions?

Invest in the right social listening platform not just the most powerful. Make sure that not only can your team easily set up keyword campaigns but filter out the junk that comes with listening.  Quality of data over quantity of data is what matters here. 

3. Risk Management Perspective – Is your brand prepared to note and respond to attacks or problems that cast you in a negative light?

Sometimes people go to great lengths to attack and troll your brand and you must be prepared with a strategy that your team can follow on how to properly handle these sometimes very emotional situations. Mistakes also happen, ensure that your community managers have the proper tools in place to prevent the accidental posting of a piece of content that was meant for another account. 

Red Cross Tweet
The Red Cross mistakenly published this tweet

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have a social crisis management plan in place?
  • Does the plan include an approach for the handling of social media content in times of a national tragedy or crisis?
  • Are all employees aware of such a plan in the event of a PR crisis?
  • Is there a general social media policy for employees to follow as a representative of the brand on their personal social channels?
  • What does employee access to your brands social networks look like? Can it easily be revoked? 

Ensure that your tools have the proper failsafes in place to prevent these types of of situations. Make sure there is an easy to use workflow approval system that reviews content by another user prior to it being made live. Also be sure to review how an employees access can be revoked if needed. 

HMV Twitter
Fired workers hijack the HMV Twitter feed

4. Digital Perspective – Has the brand enhanced its owned and earned digital assets?

With an abundance of existing and new social networks popping up it is important to understand where your consumers are spending their time. Focus on engaging and growing those networks and stay away from creating a presence on a network for the sake of “being there” to avoid having a dormant social channel that rarely gets updated. Invest in the channels where your customers are today but be prepared to make a shift if your customers find the next Pinterest. 

Ask yourself

  • What social networks are you actively using and have a relevant audience? 
  • Has the content shared on social channels evolved your brands voice into a genuine and authentic persona?
  • Do you have the tools to measure metrics by week over week, month over month, etc?  
  • Have you built any apps that your fans/followers actively use or engage with?
  • Have you collected data on fans through the use of apps or any other method?

Investing in the channels where your customers are just makes sense.  Fun contests, promotions, games, apps can all be things that cost money in the short term but if done properly the relationship and trust you build with your fans will be invaluable. 

While there is still no one magic bullet answer for social ROI you can still build a good foundation combined with strategy and the right social tools  so you can be confident that you are protecting your brand while pulling in the right data that you need to to extrapolate your the data that matters to you the most. .  

By – Adam Lazzara

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