ROI in Social Media: Taking the Numbers Out of the Equation

Equation for ROI?

Equation for ROI?

If you do Social Media you know it’s not the numbers that count and that what you do on a daily basis will take time to come to fruition. So how do we get away from the numbers when the Board want to see growth, the CEO requires an ROI and your boss wants to measure your performance?

What else can you do to take numbers out of the equation? Realise that it’s not the numbers that are the problem just which ones.

If we go back to the early days of the web every one was talking about Hits and Page Views. Early on counting Hits wasn’t too much of an issue until you started adding more elements to a web page. A Hit is registered by every element that is downloaded from a page. When those pages consisted of just text, generally, a Hit was a good enough measure. Now web pages are much more complicated, with many files being downloaded just to display a single page. Each file leads to a Hit, it wouldn’t be unusual for a single web page nowadays to register 50 or more Hits.

From Hits we many moved to Page Views, but again the problem comes from the fact that people getting lost on your site or reloading a page register many Page Views making it an unreliable gauge of how well your web site is performing.

The same is true in Social Media. The number of followers is not a true indication of your success in the social space, purely an indication that more people are following you. A lot of your success in social will come down to sentiment and attitude towards your brand. This is much more difficult to measure and requires you to “take a view”. Tools do exist to help measure your performance socially but even the best of these are rudimentary measuring sticks. Radian 6 being the market leader, with Raven Tools a more affordable equivalent.

Ultimately if you use social media well, you will see increased sales. It won’t necessarily send more visitors directly to your store, on or off-line, but will provide a positive uplift.

As with all analysis your investment should be largely in the cost of people to analyse the data with only a minor percentage being spent on the tools.

Very much like the early days of the web, and we are only talking 10-15 years ago here, social is only a few years old, expecting to have all the answers and analysis this early on would be a fools paradise. What we can do is get involved, watch and learn from those that seem to be doing it well. Monitor the early adopters, the popular bloggers and online marketeers. Listen to Agencies with caution, do not believe the hype and do believe there are no quick routes to success.

After all Social Media by it’s very name indicates you need to be social, that means engagement, that means conversation not necessarily clicks and downloads.

How are you measuring you success?

About Sean Clark

Building successful online companies since 1999, we help you market your business online. Whether you need help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search (PPC) or Social Media Marketing call us today on 01603 343477 for a free initial consultation.

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  •  Just suggesting taking the numbers out of ROI would have some feeling faint. I think knowing what you hope to achieve and then measuring what you’re doing is a great way to see if your getting the returns you’d hoped for. 

    Thanks for including us in your post! -Trish @DayngrCommunity Manager | Radian6

  • @Dayngr:disqus  of course you are right, but many don’t know what they can achieve with Social Media. Typically an uneducated CEO or Board, in the sense of online, just want increased sales and think more fans or followers is the key metric. They fail to see the value of the conversation.

  • @Dayngr:disqus  of course you are right, but many don’t know what they can achieve with Social Media. Typically an uneducated CEO or Board, in the sense of online, just want increased sales and think more fans or followers is the key metric. They fail to see the value of the conversation.

  • @Dayngr:disqus  of course you are right, but many don’t know what they can achieve with Social Media. Typically an uneducated CEO or Board, in the sense of online, just want increased sales and think more fans or followers is the key metric. They fail to see the value of the conversation.

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  • Wise words from @seaneclark:disqus – http://t.co/1JWdQKg forget the numbers because it’s the engagement that matters.

  • Marion Catlin

    The old story of quantitative versus qualitative. Try work
    ing in the cultural sector!

  • Hi @SeanEClark – some further thoughts – also shared on @GaryDickenson’s blog
    This is something I have been saying for ages (well since last year). Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean they actively follow you (how can anyone genuinely follow 1000s of people). This habit of automatically following back is a particularly bad one. You should only follow people who interest you.I follow people who engage with me (positively) – and who don’t fill their tweets with swearing (bit of a prude on that one). I also follow people who I see regularly getting RTs from other people I follow (and whose opinion I value). This is purely personal but I think businesses should apply a similar line of thinking. Furthermore, I think the best way for a company to judge it’s influence is to look at the number of @ replies it gets – the number of @ tweets it sends in response (rather than the simple broadcast statements) – and, most importantly, the number of RTs it gets (either automatic or modified – MT).In fact, I think MTs are particularly important indicators, even when a negative comment is added, because it shows that the person sending it is interested in the subject and wants to engage at some level. However, it is vital that the company doesn’t just leave the MT hanging – they have to reciprocate – acknowledge the MT and respond positively – in other words engage, wholeheartedly.CheersHuw 

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  • Wow….you did a very good job. Its very informative post. I got so much knowledge about social media ROI from this post. Thanks for sharing with us this informative post.