One of the questions I get asked most often is “How to measure social media ROI?” It’s a question that’s difficult to answer because what everyone is looking for is a direct connection between the social media campaign they purchased and new paying customers. The problem with that question lies in a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of social media networks. Real business is often done by referral. Social media networks are referral networks that can become lead generators but not in and of themselves. You need other tools to capture email addresses, market to them, measure them, and ultimately convert them into repeat customers.
Let me give you an example: Bob tells Jim that Taft is an expert in new and traditional media. So what does Jim do? Jim goes online, sees my social media accounts and reads all these comments from friends, clients, and partners on sites that we manage. That content acts as reinforcement that I am in fact the expert in my field. “He sure has written a lot of content. He must know what he’s talking about.” That’s the assumption and that’s how original content blogging, (like this post), and social media syndication, (reading this on Twitter and Facebook) come in to play. Social media is a referral network that allows you to manage your own message online.
You know the expression, “You’re judged by the company you keep”? That’s what’s going on with people looking at your profile. One in twenty Linked In members is a recruiter so they are specifically looking for the quality of your connections. So while most people are looking for a numerical measurement to determine value, i.e.; the number of followers you have, you should be paying attention to:
1.The quality of your followers, (who are they)?
2. The amount of engagement you have with them, are they responding?
3. How often do they share your posts through their own social media networks?
Some people haven’t accepted the internet or social media as being ‘real’. So they want someone to ‘Post’, ‘Friend’, ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ for them because they think it might be important, but they don’t have time. So clients and friends always ask me if I can help them grow their own ‘friends’ and ‘likes’. “Can you get me fake friends” or, “buy me more ‘likes’?” some even ask. While there are tools to inflate the numbers, ultimately that doesn’t help you. Linked In will ask you if you know the person you’re trying to connect to. Linked In doesn’t want you to list ‘fake’ references. Ask yourself, do you want to do business with someone that has ‘fake’ clients? The social media networks specifically do not want you to falsely inflate those numbers. If your ‘Friends’ and ‘Followers’ are real people with impressive credentials then the social media network where you’re connected has value. So when you build your social media network with respected brands and individuals you elevate your own position by association in real life and online.
So the answer to the question “How to measure social media ROI?” is first to get in the game and post compelling, original content, to install tracking codes, to watch the needle and see when it moves, and to watch the growth of your network, the amount of engagement you have with that content, and to pay attention to how often that content is re-posted, re-Tweeted, and shared by your followers. The way to convert that into new business is the subject of another post called “inbound marketing.”