How to Track (and Attract) Social Media ROI

ImageThis week, our readings for class included thoughts on how to track return-on-investment (ROI) with social media.

What does that mean exactly? Well, it turns out that even the social media “experts” are conflicted on what ROI looks like for social media, how to achieve that, and where that is headed.

Our Mashable article lists 5 ways to track ROI:

  • Coupons and Offers:  You can utilize coupons and offers through the “Offers” option on Facebook for example, which can be tracked via barcode or online redemption code.  This automatically shows how many opt in, and how many redeem.
  • Call Tracking Phone Numbers:  By assigning different phone numbers to different social media channels, you can see where the lead came from exactly and which channel to utilize more often.
  • Conversion Measurement:  Facebook has a built-in Conversion Measurement tool that lets advertisers track behavior of people who click on their ad. This can follow users to see if they actually buy something on your site.  This shows how successful your advertising actually is in achieving behavior.
  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics can track traffic and see if social media channels are driving traffic to your website. If it shows that certain social media sites are sending people to the website, that shows that it’s working.
  • Look at Overall Results and Work Backwards: While it’s not the clearest way to prove ROI in social media, you can link up activity (ex: time periods) in which outreach through social media was done and overall sales. This comparison will show that your social media activity or advertising has some effect on sales.

In the end, the article suggests that in cases where social media may not be a “measurable” business tool, it’s valuable in building a brand and consumer relationships. Another point of the article was that it’s a communication tool rather than a tactic.

Those are both valid points—while sometimes it may be difficult to tie social media directly to a metric, it definitely can’t hurt as both a tool to have available to build relationships and communicate. Often in my other class we discuss how social media sites anymore are not considered tactics (as they once were), but communication channels or strategies.  There are so many different delineations within social media channels (ex: channels for networking, location based channels, or video sharing channels) that there are many more tactics within that to work towards achieving a certain goal.

ImageOur other articles suggest ways to achieve social media ROI, by first attracting an audience and then engaging that audience. In order to attract fans and followers, one article suggests hosting contests (ex: photo contests) or sweepstakes, installing web widgets to your website, and utilizing Twitter.  By using your own products, engaging your audience, and providing value, you’ll be more likely to build a stronger online presence.

According to the article, user interactions come through users interacting with brand content, creating content that incorporates the brand, or asking questions online related to the brand. The article suggests having a content strategy and using new content consistently. Being visual is important, as well as providing relevant and personal content.  You create value by showing users new ways to use your product, providing purchase incentives, and getting customers to share our information with other friends and followers.

However, our other Mashable article insists that contests are not a substitute for content. While “Quick Win” tactics attract users initially, to sustain loyalty you need to provide “rich content experiences” that share stories.  Another interesting point of the article was that no one “owns” audiences anymore—they just “rent” them. Marketing through social media means that you aren’t just competing with other competitors (as you might with email alone), but you are competing with other distractions for the user.  Social media is dynamic, audiences will change and so will content.

What are your thoughts?


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