The Return on Investment (ROI) of social media marketing can be difficult to pin down. Results can’t be guaranteed, and there is no way of knowing how your audience will react to the things you share online. While ROI proves that your marketing efforts are successful, it will only do so if you’re tracking and measuring the right things, and have ruled out other influencing factors. Here are five ways to troubleshoot your social campaign’s ROI and measure your results more accurately:
1. Use a spreadsheet
Facebook Insights and Google Analytics are a great way of monitoring your campaign while it’s live, but using a spreadsheet offers more flexibility where measuring your long-term progress is concerned. While you can probably find suitable templates online, creating your own and tailoring it to your business objectives is usually the best idea.
Designing your own spreadsheet allows you to track metrics that Facebook Insights won’t track for you — like positive and negative sentiment, customer service inquiries, and engagement with influencers.
Even if your social following is small, and your campaign could probably be managed well enough using Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics, it’s more efficient to implement good tracking and measurement practices before you need them. This will make it much easier to adapt when your business expands.
2. Define clear, quantifiable objectives
The objectives of your social media campaign should align with your broader business objectives. While there are many types of social media ROI, small businesses may want to begin by focusing on the ones they can measure.
For example, British travel retailer Holiday Hypermarket ran a Facebook campaign offering £500 towards the cost of a vacation, with and an additional £25 discount coupon to all entrants. The brand measured the success of its campaign on new Facebook likes (1,356), new Twitter followers (492), email data capture (1,365), bookings (18), and revenue (£24,755), with a total 1,360% ROI. Quantifiable objectives like these are easy to measure, as opposed to “improve brand reputation” or “establish thought leadership” — which, despite being worthwhile goals, would perhaps work better as secondary objectives rather than primary ones.
3. Watch out for algorithm changes
This is particularly important when measuring the ROI of Facebook campaigns. If your latest campaign has been a lot less successful than the one before, it’s not necessarily due to bad marketing — it could be the result of changes to the News Feed algorithm. Facebook now takes into account over 100,000 individual signals when deciding what to show in your audience’s News Feeds, and the steady drop in organic reach means that Facebook is now, essentially, a paid channel. Brands that can’t afford to put too much budget aside for Facebook ads might have better luck focusing their efforts on Twitter.
And while Facebook may allow for more campaign flexibility — custom quiz builds and data capture forms, for example — the success that brands like Kellogg’s have found on Twitter proves that the little blue bird should not be underestimated. The UK breakfast food brand received 35,942 tweets for their Tweet When U Eat #CraveTheSmiler campaign in partnership with theme park Alton Towers. They used a dashboard to manage the campaign — tracking (among other things) tweets per hour, top tweeters, and popular terms and phrases relating to the campaign. Collecting a wide range of data in this way gives you results to learn from, and allows you to plan better campaigns in future.
4. Don’t get hung up on financial ROI
This is the one most DIY marketers will focus on, and it can lead some small businesses to dismiss social media as a waste of time (“Twelve people retweeted me, but nobody bought anything!”) when really, they’re focusing on the wrong things. Brands that put too much emphasis on financial ROI run the risk of neglecting the widest part of the sales funnel — leads are not nurtured effectively, and prospects are given all the attention. For brands with a small social following, the ROI to focus on initially is growing reach and creating leads. The larger your online audience, the better your ROI will be for future campaigns.
5. Step back
It’s easy to blame an unsuccessful campaign on the inadequacy of social media, but the problem can often be found elsewhere. Low financial ROI could be the result of a website with poor usability, a lengthy checkout process, offers that aren’t relevant, uninspiring website copy…the list goes on, but it’s worth exploring all these variables before pointing the finger at Facebook.
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