What is social media marketing really worth to your company?

It’s a question that clients and marketers alike seem to grapple with ad nauseam. In fact, according to a 2014 Study in Social Media Examiner 87% of marketers interviewed said they didn’t know how to measure the return of their investment in Social media.

The fact is, that social media was never designed to be a sales tool so measuring its immediate impact is challenging. Its primary purpose is to build strong interactive relationships with customers that may convert to sales, leads and other profitable interactions in the future. This is incredibly important to a business: While an immediate sale may generate a short-term profit, a strong relationship with a repeat customer ensures a stable financial base from future sales tomorrow and after. Not to mention, long-term relationships increase brand awareness and your reputation as a company. That’s why social media is, and will continue to be, a major part of any successful marketing program.

But more and more CMOs want to know what they’re actually getting for their buck.

Understandably, with more and more time and labor going into creating and maintaining social media, C-suite leaders want to have some way of measuring the success of these efforts. Recently we came across a short eBook, “A Guide to Creating Provable ROI in Social Media” by Cara Harshman, that offers some useful information in this matter. It has a number of good ideas we thought worth sharing.

To Get the Answers You Seek, Ask the Right Questions

Judging the value of social media begins by deciding what its value to you. Harshman suggests answering these questions to help define what you want social media to do and at what cost:

  • How much does social media impact my business?
  • How does social media impact consumer spending and decision making?
  • What are key drivers of success on social media?
  • How much money and time should I be investing in social media?

Now that you have a more specific idea of what you’re looking for, you can begin developing ways to collect hard data to answer these questions effectively. Harshman has created a series of experiments to test ten measurable aspects of social media. The results of these tests should reveal such useful information as which social channel your audience spends the most time on and what kind of content they are most likely to share. Ultimately, she contends, the answers gathered through this experience optimization process will enable you to increase conversations, deepen customer engagement and claim more revenue from your digital marketing efforts.

Test Your Social Media

Here’s a brief description of “10 Experiments That Can Help You Increase Value From Social Media” from the eBook and what they’re designed to achieve:

Test Location of Share Buttons

Changing the location of a button can effect a visitor’s decision to share. Some sites like Mashable have share buttons at the top of the page while others like Sephora put theirs at the bottom. You might also want to decide if you’ll place share buttons on every page or only on some. Experiment and see which arrangement works best for you.

Measure success by tracking the location that seems to increase use of share buttons.

Experiment with the Time You Publish to Different Channels

Generating more traffic to your site is part of the ROI of social media. Posting at a different time of day may draw more traffic to you than posting at another. You can keep track of the best times through software programs like Sprout Special and Buffer.

Measure success by seeing which posts generate the most traffic.

Try Different Offers Incentivizing People to Share

Recommendations have been found to influence buying decisions more than price or brand. This test is designed to find out the best way to incentivize users to recommend you. Make sharing easier by preparing a message so all that’s left to do is click a button.

Measure success by tracking which offers generate more shares. Offer different referral codes for incentives and measure which codes are used the most.

Experiment with Personalized Calls to Action on Landing Pages

Visitors from different channels respond differently to calls for action. Test which one works best based on which social channel your audience come from. This will help you decipher how people from different channels are most likely to react.

Measure success by tracking which action converts best for each segment of social traffic.

Test Calls to Action in Social Updates

How you say something and how long you take to say it can also help determine how your audience reacts to a call for action. For example, Target’s Facebook page doesn’t solicit sales directly but engages the audience and encourages them to click on a product link. Kissmetrics takes a more direct approach, telling people to click on a link for more product information.

Measure success by running a controlled campaign for a few weeks on each of your channels and track how using a direct call to action increases engagement versus no call to action.

Experiment with the Design of Your Share Buttons

Share buttons can be different shapes and sizes. Test which ones work best for you. You might consider adding counters to the buttons and information about who shared it. These additions have been shown to increase revenue per visitor.

Measure success by tracking which button gets the most clicks. Also, note which channel is the most popular with your visitors to find out where you should focus your time and effort.

Test One-Click Sign up with Social Media Buttons

Making it easier for people to login or signup for a service can increase usage. A social login is one way to do this. Try using a social login on your site and see if it raises your sign up rate or product usage.

Measure success by tracking sign up conversions or logins with and without a social login.

Experiment on the Types of Images You Share

Images increase engagement on social media and some images may do this more effectively than others. For example, showing a person using your product versus a product shot alone. Or using icons versus photos.

Measure success by categorizing the image types you use and keep track of how each category impacts your key metrics 

Test How You Position Recommended Content

Sharing appropriate articles with readers is proven to increase page views of your content. You can test how changing the positioning of those articles may increase engagement.

Measure success by tracking the number of clicks on recommended articles with social proof support. 

Experiment with Targeting for Paid Social Promotions

Paid updates can be a highly effective way to reach new audiences. But it’s helpful to know which promotions attract more attention and which audiences perform best for your brand.

Try promoting updates to different audience segments to find out. Make sure to change only one filter at a time to get accurate information on what is making a difference to audience reaction.

Measure success by tracking which audience segments turn into conversions.

We hope you find these suggestions helpful. If you’re not sure what to do first, begin by defining the goals you want to achieve using social media. Think about why you’re on different social media sites and whom you’re trying to reach there. But whatever you do, “measure the impact of your work on metrics that really matter for your business so you can prove the value of social media to your boss” – and yourself.

312.828.0200 | [email protected]