According to a recent survey of prominent CMOs, social media marketing is a growing marketing strategy that businesses will continue to invest in. Yet a concern for many marketers is that it seems difficult to provide an accurate analysis of the effectiveness of social media on a quantitative scale. In our last post, we discussed the reasons why the ROI of social media cannot be measured in the same manner as one would measure the effectiveness of a Pay-Per-Click campaign with Google AdWords. This week, we will illustrate how the ROI of social media marketing campaigns actually CAN be measured in quantifiable terms.
Reach refers to the amount of people who see any given post on your social media. This will vary by platform, but is generally linked to the number of followers you have.
On Twitter, you have the potential to reach however many followers you have. However, this is a platform that moves very fast, and accounts that have only one or two messages per day are not likely to gain traction. Therefore, you have to send messages several times throughout the day to ensure that somebody sees your content. Twitter’s advertising platform and Twitter card system offer fairly robust analytics that let you see when your followers are online the most, so that you can target your best content for that time. Repetition is also key here: share your content multiple times over the course of the month, with a new status message each time.
On Google+, you not only reach anyone who follows your account, but publicly as well. While Google+ advertising is not available to any page with less than 1,000 followers, you can still create content for your demographic and share it with whoever follows you. Google+ posts can show up individually in search results, so you always want to post relevant information for your brand’s niche and keywords. You can also post content in Google+ Communities, which are niche groups dedicated to sharing specific content. However, each community has strict rules regarding what users are allowed to post. If a community says that no links are allowed in posts, or if only personal accounts may post (as opposed to Google+ pages), then these guidelines must be adhered to. Small businesses often do best when they post in communities that are related to their industry or dedicated to their city or state. As with other platforms, spam is frowned upon and can result in a ban. Google also recently began offering detailed analytics for measuring your page’s performance. Any verified business listing can access these metrics.
Facebook receives the most attention for their approach to reach. Unlike other social media platforms, Facebook does not allow all of the fans of your page to see each post. Currently, the algorithm only shows posts to two to six percent of the page’s total fans, though this ratio increases if more fans engage with the post. This is problematic for marketers who spent time building a Facebook community of fans that initially liked the brand’s message enough to subscribe to their updates, but who now may never see any posts from the brand. On Facebook, there are three different kinds of reach: viral, paid and organic, and these apply for posts as well as a brand’s page. Organic reach is what a brand is given for free, i.e., that two to six percent of the fan base. Viral reach is achieved when one of your fans likes, comments on, or shares your posts with their own friends.
Paid reach is the easiest to track because you can set all of the marketing data of the demographic you are trying to reach and then pay Facebook to show your content to that set of users. With Facebook’s conversion pixels, you create a unique tracking code for your ad that you can add to the metadata of the page on the website where you want to track conversions. A conversion is an action that a person takes on your website, such as registering, adding an item to the shopping cart, or viewing a particular page. Virtually any page on your website can represent a conversion, and you can create and add the conversion tracking code to any page of your site. If your goal is to get people to fill out your contact form, for example, the pixel code would track this. From there, after the customer contacts you, you can easily track the value of that advertisement on social media. Facebook tracks conversions that happen within 1 day, 7 days, and 28 days after a person clicks on an ad, as well as 1 day, 7 days, and 28 days after your ad is served.
Engagement refers to the number of times people interact with your content and is easily measurable on all platforms. Engagement encompasses:
- Blog comments and shares
- Facebook status likes, comments and shares
- Google+ +1s, shares and comments
- Twitter replies and retweets
- Pinterest repins and likes
- YouTube video views
A good way to measure the effectiveness of each post is to use a link-shortening service, such as bit.ly. This allows you to track the link and see which headlines cause your fans to click the link the most. In addition, it is a good idea to experiment and test with several different links to the same URL in many campaigns to see what works and what is unsuccessful. A good post should be made at a time when you have the most fans online, information that can be accessed in many platforms or through third-party services.
Sentiment refers to the number of online mentions you receive and whether those are positive or negative. This includes reviews, comments, links and mentions. For example, if you look at the Facebook page or Twitter mentions for any major brand, you will likely see a mixture of positive and negative sentiment. If the company happens to be rated #1 in customer dissatisfaction nationwide, like Comcast/Time Warner, their sentiment rating will be fairly negative. However, a company that has a lot of brand loyalty, such as the media company Rooster Teeth or the food delivery service Eat 24, will have a fairly positive sentiment. A notable difference between these companies is in how they treat their social media communities. Social media is customer service at its core.
Measure Web Traffic from Social Media: For all social media platforms, you can use Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from and whether or not that traffic was converted. The best practice for getting your social media fans to complete a goal on your website is to first have a good goal in place through Google Analytics. Is one of your goals to capture customer email addresses? Make sure you share the URL for a great landing page on social media to capture as many leads as possible.
Furthermore, your brand depends on having a great website that offers compelling content. If your site looks like it was designed in 1999 and has content that reads like it was written by 100 monkeys with typewriters, you will definitely need to invest in a redesign for your website.
Consider your landing page like the front of your brick-and-mortar business. You would not want customers to think your business was rundown and outdated, so why allow your website to look this way? Your content needs to be consistently high-quality; you can create the best content ever, but if you do not pay to promote it across several social platforms and get your fans to engage with it, you will not see much in terms of growth. Also, ensure that the site is optimized for mobile, since more people access mobile versions of websites and social media than ever before.
While it is difficult to pinpoint the precise benefits of a social media strategy using an outdated measure of ROI like revenue-per-customer, it is possible to measure many aspects of social media ROI to get an idea of the quantitative impact that social media is having on businesses as a whole. However, it is also wise to take a more holistic look and remember that the benefit of growing your brand and building a loyal following is not always measurable through mere numbers.
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