Tracking the ROI of Social Media

January 21, 2013 6:15 am

One of the biggest reasons that businesses have trouble adopting social media is that so often it can be difficult to measure the ROI.  After all, how do you put a dollar value on a Re-Tweet?  It can be difficult to do, especially if you don’t know where to start.

How Do You Track the ROI of Social Media?

In many cases, the direct ROI of Social Media is difficult to track.  For example, if your social media activities are largely customer service and troubleshooting based, there often isn’t a clear metric that can be used to determine the ROI. This will usually need to be evaluated on a case by case basis depending on what you want to achieve.  There are a few free tools that are now available which can be very helpful in tracking the ROI of your social media presence and provide valuable insights.

Tools for Tracking Social Media ROI

Tracking Social Media Traffic – HootSuite:  HootSuite is a free service that has additional fee-based options.  With this free service, you may include up to five different social media accounts from different social media platforms.   HootSuite integrates “Owly” which automatically shortens and tracks any URLs used in posts.  The free service also enables you to generate reports to see how many clicks came from each post, what platforms and geographical regions clicks came from, and when the clicks were made.  The basic tools are useful in helping you identify what links are getting clicks, even if they are not links to your site.  Paid versions of HootSuite also offer much more comprehensive information.

Tracking Social Media Interaction – Klout:  Klout has come under fire for changing their algorithms and for a lack of accuracy.  However, if you’re looking to see how much interaction you are generating and the topics creating the most engagement with your followers, Klout may still be a useful tool.  You can integrate most social media accounts for a comprehensive score, and see how much people are talking about you.  If your social media goal is to spread the word about what you’re doing, Klout can help you see retweets, mentions, likes, comments, and more.  If you’re looking to track straight leads and web traffic, Klout may not be the best tool.  However, if you’re looking to create a buzz make sure you’re connected to Klout to track your progress.

Tracking Social Media Conversions – Google Analytics Goals: One of the first things you should do in your Google Analytics account is set up goal tracking.  Most users will set up a goal or “conversion” as a completion of some type of form, usually an order form or contact form.  After completion of a form, a user should be directed to a “Thank You” page.  Reaching that page marks the completion of a goal.  To set this up, go to the “Admin” section of your analytics account and set up “Goal Tracking” for whichever profile you will be using to track Goals.  Use the URL for the “Thank You” page that comes after your form completion to track that form as a goal.

Now you can track goals through your analytics account.  However, one of the newer features of Google allows you to track where all of these conversions actually came from.  On the left hand navigation, click Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion paths.

For every visitor who came to the site and filled out a contact form, you will now see the source that brought them to the site.  If they came to the site more than once, you will also see how they came to the site each time they visited.  This helps you to see not only where people came from when they filled out your form, but how they originally got to your website.  This can be useful for tracking your Pay Per Click campaign, Organic SEO, and of course tracking social media ROI.

Tracking social media ROI is an evolving science, and there are benefits of social media that will always be very difficult if not impossible to track.  However, tools are evolving to help you track your social media accounts and you should be taking advantage of them.  Make the most of your social media efforts.  Let us know if you need some help.

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About The Author

We specialize in b2b, supporting the clients who are the "The Brands Behind the Brands." These are the supply chain partners of brands, either in Tier 1 or Tier 2 positions, who drive value through the delivery of goods, services and technologies. We enjoy blogging about all things related to Branding, Marketing, Inbound, Tradeshows, etc... And we're always happy to talk about any ideas you may have that might Get You To Your NEXT!