Time to measure and report your social media marketing results
Posted by Mary Fletcher Jones
If your company or nonprofit expends time and resources on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and blogs, you probably want to know if it’s working, right? But 41% of companies have no idea if their social media efforts are paying off at all, and 88% of marketing professionals say they don’t know how to accurately measure social media. Not every business or nonprofit bothers to measure, or report their results in an organized way. Any organized attempt you make at measurement, honestly, puts you ahead of the pack.
And if you want to continue to do the good work you are doing, you’d better have some data ready by year-end to justify your efforts to your clients or to the boss. You may even need this information for your annual report. Ongoing measurement also helps you improve, and allocate resources to where they are doing the most good.
Social media measurement answers two important questions you’ll need to answer before moving into 2013:
1. Are we doing this right?
2. Are we getting the desired results from our efforts?
You may be measuring your results weekly, monthly, twice a year, or annually. Or you may not be measuring them at all. Whatever your approach, chances are that by year end, you’ve got to generate some kind of report. Don’t stress. This is easier than it sounds.
Start with the Measurement Basics
This is the point where a lot of marketers and communicators start agonizing about what the should measure, and if data like “number of followers” or “number of likes” count. The truth is that while most marketers want to measure engagement, the metric that is used by 96% of them is number of fans. So — measuring engagement is a goal, yes. But what people understand in terms of quantifying results — and this probably includes your boss — is how many comments and followers your accounts got this year. So, start there…then use the on board tools to measure engagement, as well.
The Value of Meaningful Competitive Analysis
I am not a fan of Twitter Grader, Klout, and other automatic generating score systems. Most of them have significant flaws. I think it’s more meaningful to tabulate your results over time, then compare those results to, say, ten of your competitors (for the data that is publicly available). That way, you are comparing apples to apples, and you can get a true sense of your ranking in a way that is relevant to your business or nonprofit.
Use Visual Tools in Your Report
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, but you do have to present your results in a visually compelling way — for a lot of bosses, that means charts! Charts are easy to generate. If you’re not comfortable with Excel, you can use a free online tool, such as ChartGo.
So, you’re going to need some data. The first set of data you will need are your business or nonprofit results (for the time period – monthly/annual/etc.). For example, this might be revenues, new accounts, attendees at events, new members, etc. Whatever means “success” for your organization.
Next, you want to collect data on what you’ve done and achieved on the various platforms. Hopefully, you collected this data each month in 2012. If not, you can use the onboard stats to gather this information, or just collect what you have for year-end and make ongoing, monthly data capture a measurement goal for 2013. Here’s an example of a very simple tool you could use…
Here are some ways you could quantify your results (items in red represent what you could also easily analyze about your competitors):
Facebook – What you did:
Facebook – Results:
Twitter – What you did:
Twitter – Results:
YouTube – What you did:
1. # of videos uploaded
2. # of video responses posted, shares, embeds, playlists
YouTube – Results:
5. Subscribers (+/-)
Blog – What you did:
# of new posts
Blog – Results:
For the qualitative portion, you can collect comments, both positive and negative, etc.
These kinds of measures are going to evaluate if you’re doing social media “right” — if you were consistent in posting content, if people are responding to and sharing your content, and if you’re reaching increasing numbers of people.
What about our ROI?
But are your social media efforts paying off? Sometimes, you just know, other times, it’s a bit more tricky. If you’re struggling with attributing achievement on business goals with your social media activities, you have a lot of company: 57% of businesses say measuring ROI is their top social media marketing challenge.
If you had a specific sales promotion or special event, and you used a particular platform for promoting that event, tracking the return on investment is easy, using a formula like this:
Social media ROI =
But how about your activity on your blog, or on your YouTube Channel? Well, you can look at your sales and other business goals, and look at what else you are doing in marketing, and see if you think there is any link. For example, all things being equal, if you were advertising one year, and then the next year you added a Facebook Page and didn’t change your advertising frequency, and you enjoyed a 50% increase in business, then you might safely surmise the Facebook Page had an impact.
If you are getting any kind of feedback, document it. Of course, you could always do surveys, if you have that capacity. But for smaller businesses, it may be more simple. For example, I had a client tell me that the videos we produced for her business helped close the sale. When she went to business appointments with prospective clients, they almost always mentioned that they had seen her videos. She felt the videos, which were a relatively modest investment, served as an impressive introduction for her services, before she met with the clients in person, and they paid off for her. So, along with your other metrics, these comments and feedback could be a useful indicator of how your social media marketing efforts are paying off.
What’s Working for You?
Let me know what you’re doing to measure your social media marketing efforts at year-end.