Measuring return on investment from social media visibility

Measuring return on investment from social media visibility

Whether paid or organic, brand awareness, or with a specific goal, there are a range of ways you can measure ROI from your social media visibility

There are two approaches to social media visibility:

  1. Free (organic)
  2. Paid (via paid social media advertising)

Measuring outcomes will very much depend on the type of social media visibility you have implemented.

Paid social media advertising to get a sale or enquiry from your website

You have something that you want to directly sell via your website, so you choose the paid social media channels that best suit your target market.

That visibility will encourage clicks from your adverts through to the specific part of your website where people can buy or make an enquiry.

Ideally you would use tracking urls (via the google campaign url builder) so that it’s easy to use analytics software (e.g. Google Analytics) to identify website visits from people who clicked on specific social media adverts.

That will help you determine the impact of your adverts but what matters more than that are those who buy or make contact with you.

To measure this, after a sale is made, or an enquiry is completed, the website visitor should be taken to a separate page url (typically a ‘thank-you’ type url).

You can then (over a period of time after your paid social media campaign launch) identify:

  1. How many people clicked through to your website.
  2. How many of those took the action you wanted to.

You can then compare the total outcome (sales or enquiries that lead to sales) to the cost of your social media advertising.

Hopefully you will see a good return but you may find that, although people click through to your website from your paid ads, an inadequate level of them go on to buy or make contact with you.

In that situation you may feel that social media paid advertising hasn’t worked for you but it’s worth you analysing what went wrong.

For example, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did the landing page from your advert match the expectations of the people who clicked through to your website?
  2. Was there something missing from your website, leaving doubts in the minds of the people who clicked?

If people saw your adverts and clicked then there must have been a certain level of intent, so lack of sales/enquiries must be a result of a mismatch of expectations somewhere.

Free (organic) social media visibility to get a sale or enquiry from your website

On the surface this doesn’t matter so much because the social media visibility hasn’t cost you in financial terms, so you could consider any sales or enquiries as being a bonus.

However, it took someone time to create the social media visibility, and that person has a cost, including an opportunity cost where they could have been working on something else that gets more results.

The principles here are the same as with paid advertising: visibility from the free social media should get some of the website visitors getting in contact or buying from the page they landed on.

Is this less important than what you get from paid social media advertising?

Some would say yes, it is less important.

I would say: why spend time on that organic social media visibility if you’re not getting results from it?

Also, for those of you who pay an external party (e.g. a social media expert) to generate lots of ‘free’ visibility, that work is of course not free because you have to pay for it to be done.

So, as with paid, you need to be using analytics software to identify the traffic from that ‘free’ social media visibility (ideally, including utm parameters to make it even more trackable), including which people get as far as your website page that shows that they bought something or made contact with you.

Social media visibility for brand awareness

Whether organic or free, it’s not so easy to measure return on investment from social media visibility that’s purely there to raise awareness of your brand.

Some of that visibility may involve people who go to your website, which you can track in the methods already covered above.

Other measurement you could use would be engagement metrics such as:

  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Comments
  • Impressions

It’s also worth tracking your search engine rankings because increase social media activity can send out the right signals and help with your overall SEO.

The longer-term view of social media visibility

Return on investment from social media visibility is not purely about immediate financial returns (although it’s more important if you are paying for that visibility and have a specific desired outcome).

It’s often about that ongoing awareness of your business, engagement with people, and building it up to gain benefits over time.

Taking LinkedIn as an example, I’ve posted much content over time and have experienced people who start to engage more, and eventually become those who entrust me to provide them with some free advice.

Some of those also become clients or refer me onto others.   Without that LinkedIn activity, many people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to build trust in what I do and how I can potentially help them.

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