According to a February 2012 survey of 329 senior executives in North America by the management and digital consulting firm PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit, those who had invested in social media saw Return on Investment (ROI) that was more than four times than that of the companies with little or no social media presence. However, half of the executives opined that the major obstacle that detracted them from investing in social networking campaigns is the lack of standardized metrics that can measure ROI. Though certain social actions (for example, likes, tweets) can provide online marketers with a hard number, converting those numbers into quantifiable returns is a challenge.
To measure social ROI, it is necessary to understand soft and hard leads. While the former need a good amount of nurturing since they will most likely not result in a sale immediately, the latter points out actual paying customers so that you can measure the quantum of sales, the revenue you earn, the money and effort you put into the social media campaign and thereby, actual ROI. Social networking platforms generally focus on extending brand awareness and collecting potential customer information, and both of these activities generate soft leads. As a result, it is difficult to compute social ROI. Though soft lead indicators such as retweets or follows can show the quantitative effect of a message on social networking site, not all of them result in hard leads. This is what the executives in the survey meant.
So, are there any dependable methods to measure social ROI in such a complex scenario? Let’s look at some of the available solutions and how far they are effective.
- Gated Content – This type of content can be accessed only if someone provides their contact details. You can provide white papers, case studies, webinars and other valuable content on social networking sites to encourage potential customers to access them by providing their contact details. However, the problem with this method is that it will generate only soft leads. To generate hard leads, you would need to post overtly promotional content and link it directly to the sign-up page for your product or service, which may go against the principle of legitimate content marketing, which is to provide valuable as well as non-promotional content.
- Built-in Platform Analytic Tools – Certain social networking sites provide built-in analytic tools such as Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Company Page Insights, Pinterest Web Analytics, and more. Though these tools provide metrics to track social engagement, they are only good at monitoring performance within a particular social networking platform; they are not that helpful when it comes to analyzing traffic to the business website, conversions and lead generations.
- Facebook Offers – This is an effective method to measure hard leads since it provide the marketers with an opportunity to convert social actions into physical offline sales. Businesses can share discounts and other offers with their customers by creating an offer through this feature. Once the offer is posted on your Facebook page, customers can claim the offer by clicking the ‘Get Offer’ button. They would receive the offer (online coupon) via the primary email address associated with their Facebook account and can redeem the coupon offline from the store. This method allows online marketers to monetize social actions into in-store purchases.
- Google Analytics – This is a very powerful and effective analytic tool for measuring social ROI. This tool provides you with social reports that can show the impact of social actions, which social networking site provides the best results, most popular content, and how social actions can cause conversions. Social reports include Overview Report, Network Referrals, Datahub Activity Report, Landing Pages, Trackbacks Report, Conversions Report, Plugins and Visitors Flow.
- Oktopost – The Oktopost platform incorporates ‘Lead Capture Technology’, which helps companies to view the actual ROI of social networking sites and powerful granular level metrics including clicks, conversions, comments, and more. Each time a lead is generated from an Oktopost link, it is possible to see exactly which post, social profile and LinkedIn discussion group the lead came from. With campaign tracking analytics, you can click on any of your social networking campaigns and view a quick snapshot of its performance. In addition, this platform offers Google Analytics integration.
The services of an expert can be invaluable when it choosing the appropriate method for measuring your social ROI. Professional SEO company with expertise in social media optimization can help with this. They would examine fluctuations in ROI and use that information to help you set up a more effective social campaign to boost your bottom line.