Making Social Media Measurable: A Beginner’s Guide

The day has finally come: your boss has approached you and asked you to start reporting on the success of your business’ social media efforts.

Don’t panic. You knew this day was coming — over the past year or two you’ve watched as your marketing department was gradually held more and more accountable for its contributions to overall business goals. It was only a matter of time before vague statements like “having a presence” and “building relationships” were no longer enough to justify spending large chunks of time on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, these are very real and very valuable goals of social media marketing, but now you need some hard metrics to prove that time (and money) spent on social media is worthwhile.

So how do you get started? What metrics does your boss really want to see? Let’s break down three levels of reporting that can help prove the value of your social media efforts.

Follower & Engagement Metrics

Tracking follower and engagement numbers is the simplest and most logical first step towards proving that your efforts are yielding results (bonus: you don’t need any special tools to do this). So start a spreadsheet to keep track of how your social following is growing over time. Keeping an eye on these numbers can also allow you to pinpoint trends and jumps in your follower numbers, helping you gauge the impact of your efforts.

And no, your boss likely doesn’t care how many retweets you got this week, but overall engagement levels are important — after all, listening to and engaging with your customers is what having a presence on social media is all about. Aggregate your social interactions (likes, comments, shares, retweets, replies, etc.) and throw this number on the spreadsheet as well. That way, you can go to your boss and say, “This month, we acquired 650 new fans and followers across our social channels and increased engagement levels by 15%”— sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

Impressions, Clicks, & Traffic

Particularly if you’re starting to explore advertising on social media, impressions and clicks become very important metrics to track. These numbers can prove that your social efforts are helping to get your name out there and create brand awareness. So, even if your social campaigns aren’t exactly driving the results that you want (i.e. “50 people clicked on this social advertisement and ended up buying our product”), being able to report that a post had 5,000 impressions or drove 300 visitors to your site can show that you’re still contributing value.

Most platforms provide easy access to these metrics: when you pull reporting on your advertisements, you have the option to download as a CSV file and quickly grab sums from whatever metrics you prefer (clicks, click-throughs, engagements, impressions, etc.). If you’re not yet investing in paid social advertising and don’t have access to these reports, using links and website analytics can provide insight into clicks and traffic.

Social Media ROI

Even without advanced social media reporting tools, you can take your reporting to the next level and start calculating social media ROI using a marketing automation platform. Create custom redirects for your social media campaigns, tie these redirects to a campaign you create within your platform, and start to see how many prospects your social media campaigns are creating. These activities will be pulled into the prospect’s profile, and as these prospects move from lead to opportunity to closed deal, you can start to see how your social media campaigns are contributing to your business’ bottom line.

Want to really impress your boss? Go beyond retroactively reporting on the success of your social efforts, and start setting defined, measurable goals. It might be intimidating at first, but setting goals like “increase traffic to our website from social sites by 20%” and “create 150 new prospects with social advertisements” will also help to keep you on track and constantly in tune with what engagements are driving results.

What are some other social media metrics that marketers can use to prove the value of their efforts? We’d love to hear your thoughts in our comments section.

Looking for more information on this topic? Check out a few of these helpful resources:

How To Measure Your Social Media Return On Investment Forbes

Measuring the ROI of Social Media [SlideShare] Social@Ogilvy

Social Media ROI: 14 Formulas to Measure Social Media Benefits Search Engine Watch

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