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How do you Measure ‘Real ROI’ in Social Media?

One question we get asked a lot when speaking to new clients, is ‘how do you measure ROI in social media?’ – And its a very good question. When you invest money into something you expect to see a return from it in the short term; and preferably in monetary form. So how do we really measure ROI when it comes to Social Media if it’s not necessarily providing us with a short term monetary return? What then, are you paying for?

Well, we hear ‘reach’ a lot. Also ‘brand recognition’, ‘awareness’ and the ‘delivery of targeted web traffic’. But how do they stack up against a real, straightforward cash return? And why would you choose to go for organic social outreach over a purely paid approach?

Quite honestly there are arguments for both sides depending on your business and industry. It really all depends on your goals as a brand. Whereas some businesses want to offer an outlet for their content and an insight into goings on from within their own walls, others really want to define themselves quickly and specifically online. These businesses offer up a selection of personas for each network, each with it’s own unique approach and specific features. Once you have set goals in mind for each platform it becomes much easier to look at your social media and appreciate the full value that a little positive exposure can generate for you in the short term.

It’s all about the angles

It’s important to consider each of the angles you could attack using social media. It certainly isn’t solely about sales. It’s about generating lots of interest in your brand from prospective clients, partners and even future employees. The latter probably don’t want to see your blog posts on the intricacies of data entry – they want to know what they’ll be doing if they were to apply for a job there. So if that’s the audience you have in mind you need to seek to answe their particular questions with relevant content. Who they might end up working with? Where will they be? Will it be a fun place to work? Will they fit in? Will there be cake?

By offering a window into your business and it’s people via your social media, you can project a positive impression of the organisation behind the information, and the people behind the brand. Generating a buzz around your social activity and building a culture from within your own organisation can generate immediate gains for your accounts in terms of both sharing and interaction online and in the short term.

It’s about the identity that it lends your business as a result

Possibly the most important way to measure your return from any social activity is in the level of identity and persona your business has at the end of it, and how you come across on each platform throughout. If you already have a social media strategy in place and feel that your company doesn’t stand out from the crowd, or that you aren’t getting any value out the activity – then you’re simply not using it with your goals in mind.

We like to take the emphasis off of the numbers and specialise in delivering great people. We have had many conversations about ‘number of likes’ and ‘how many follows’. These things are truly irrelevant. Working toward vanity numbers really does get you nowhere.

For example, sure on first impression this can look good:

But when you scroll further down and see posts like this with one like (from themselves) does it still look good? No. No it doesn’t.

This style of social media management can be embarrassing and really shoot holes in a business’s credibility online, as it seems to imply that they have the collective ability to inspire only themselves with their content.

Social media is about inspiring a response by real people

Getting social media right is about inspiring your users with your brilliant people, great content and your own touch of unique brand personality. Our advice to anyone experiencing difficulties measuring their social ROI would be to forget about the vanity numbers and to start putting the focus on defining an identity online. You don’t measure success in monetary terms especially in the short term with social, as this isn’t what it’s about.

It’s important not to get social media management and social ads growth confused. We personally like to champion a rich and intelligent mix of the two. But for each business the goals are different and its very much an understanding exercise from the off.

To drive traffic you need a personality

Encouraging your social media teams/agency to use forums, blogs and communities online as a means to engage with interested and relevant individuals and drive targeted traffic back to your website is a great call, but for this you need good content and plenty of personality. By focusing on personality and delivering a unique and engaging experience to your users you can help your brand to stand out from the crowd and put the emphasis back on engaging with real people again instead of just generating spurious numbers in the hope that one might buy from you one day.

As the old sales adage goes (and online more so than ever) “People buy people”. But believe us when we say, when it comes to social you don’t buy ‘friends’; you buy numbers – and nothing more.

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