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Measuring social media: tracking the ROI



Measuring social media can be a metrics minefield that leads to lengthy reports with lots of minute details. As with all marketing channels, you need to know what’s working and what’s not, so monitoring and measuring activity is critical. But what should you measure and report on when it comes to B2B social media?

There’s a plethora of analytics available when it comes to social. The platforms give data, and your analytics software will give you data. But to cut through all this fluff, we need to go back to the start. What is the overall goal for the B2B social media channel or campaign? Once this is established you can start measuring social media metrics.

Where marketers go wrong

It’s too easy to focus on the easy things like community size, likes, shares and comments – but if it’s not aligned with the strategy or delivering what you need, there’s little point. For example, you might be busy building communities, but the demographic of the followers doesn’t align with your business. It might seem obvious, but we’ve seen plenty of social media accounts with reasonable followings, but the demographic is a complete mismatch.

Likewise, is the traffic that’s been generated from the social media activity converting on the website? It should be, right? But looking into the website’s analytics can tell a different story. Therefore, it’s important to put the effort into the right place and monitor the results.

Define your metrics by your objectives

First of all, what are you trying to achieve? Once you have a goal in mind, what should the metrics be so you know that it’s working?

Here are 3 examples of top-level social media goals and some of the metrics that go alongside them:

  • Engagement on social media

    Metrics to measure engagement include likes, retweets, comments and shares (the simple stuff). Most platforms will provide an engagement rate, so make a note of what the current rate is and systematically try to improve it.
  • Lead generation

    Dig a little deeper and you can uncover URL clicks on posts and how new contacts find your content. These lead generation metrics also go beyond engagement on social media platforms and onto website visits with key goals like content downloads and demo requests. You’ll get this data from extracting it from the social media platform and manipulating it. You’ll also find additional data from your analytics software such as Google Analytics.
  • Meaningful conversations

    These are harder to get your hands on as they can come from any account in the business. These are the engagements that happen with key accounts, prospects and influencers on social media. This would be a manual job by sifting through the profiles of those key accounts. Some social analytics tools can also look at this giving you a measure of ‘sentiment’ or for those in a sales environment, you could start to look at the number of self-generated leads attributed that are also tagged with social.

These metrics are just the start. When it comes to measuring social media, every individual goal is different and the corresponding elements to measure will change. That’s why it’s important to be clear and focused when choosing what to measure, otherwise, the reports just become bloated and unwieldy.

The toolkit measuring social media

If you’re going to embark on measuring social media effectiveness, then these are key tools you’ll need:

  1. Google Analytics:
    The most vital reporting system to any inbound marketing activity, Google Analytics, which ties social media traffic directly to your website. Here you can measure the quality of traffic coming from each social media account with a variety of metrics including bounce rate, time on page and goal completions. These metrics start to demonstrate the quality of the social posts and the quality of the traffic that’s being driven to the website. You can split it by channel, geography and campaign (if you’re using tracking codes) to really understand how you’re delivering against your objectives.
  2. Social media platforms:
    Social media analytics have come a long way and continue to evolve. The data they provide can be quite top-line, but they allow you to extract it via a CSV file. From here, you can then start to manipulate the data and see trends, patterns and behaviours with different posts. If you’re looking at engagement, then this is a must.
  3. UTM tracking codes:
    For anyone reporting on social media campaigns, UTM tracking codes are a must. I’ve talked before how these little codes tell an important story, and when linked to your social activity, you can really begin to see performance more granularly. You can find out more about tracking here.

For different platforms, there are specific tools, for example, Twitonomy, Followerwonk and even Hootsuite Analytics that can uncover more specific insights into social media performance.

Report, tweak, report, repeat

Digging into the data will allow you to see what’s working and what’s not. From there, you can develop your posting strategy, content strategy for social, and campaign strategy – safe in the knowledge you know you’re constantly improving.

And as ever with digital marketing, keep evolving. Optimise, continually review, re-tweak and repeat until you reach those social media goals.

How do you measure success on social media? I’d love to hear from you. Tweet me directly on @n1colaray.

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