Social Media ROI

Gavin Hirst - Tuesday 17th August 2021


3 easy* ways to track social media ROI

One thing that has always been difficult for digital marketers to evaluate and measure is the return on investment (ROI) on social media. Attributing sales and conversions to social media activity is tricky and attribution models are rarely perfect.

Finding out how someone went from finding out about your business to becoming a happy customer is the goal of all businesses. If we can understand the path to conversion, we can tweak our marketing activity to match those journeys and make sure people are getting the right information, on the right platforms at the right time.

There are very few businesses that are managing to accurately track social ROI.

Even those who say they are doing it might not be reporting accurately and that’s the way things go sometimes. Instead of stressing about it, there are things you can do to ‘attempt’ to measure the ROI of social media activity more accurately and get the right attribution. Here are a few of the things you could/should be doing today.

* These three tactics are ones that don’t require in-depth analytics experience and don’t necessitate you carrying out a lot of work to get an ROI figure that may or may not accurately reflect the ROI of your social media activity.

1.      Google Analytics – Click Source

Probably the one thing that most people are doing to track social media ROI is discovering the source of traffic to their website. Some people stop there. They look at where traffic came from and they look at conversion by source.

Whilst this will tell you something about the path users takes, it is usually just the final path. The default attribution model in GA is last-click attribution. So, if a customer visits from social media because you posted a really great piece of content, however, they then go back to their social platform and come back to visit your website a couple of days, weeks or even months later, from a Google search or a paid ad, and convert, that sale will be attributed to organic or paid but does not include the value of the visit from social media.

We recommend playing with your attribution models to get a clearer picture of how your customers are discovering your brand and the journey they take to that final sale. Some people argue for first click attribution, others for last click and others for a mixed-model. See what works best for your business and hopefully, this will help you to create content that drives more people to convert.

2.      Set up social media-specific promotion codes

This is a tactic that can be used to monitor the ROI of specific social media campaigns in the same way as some companies use specific codes to track TV or billboard advertising.

Like all social media metrics, this is not going to give you a 100% accurate picture, however, it will help you to pull together more of the pieces of the puzzle when looked at in conjunction with other metrics.

This is a great tactic for small teams or those without much analytics experience as you can use your sales platform to monitor how many uses of each specific code there are, the value of the sale and then attribute an ROI to the specific platform based on the revenue generated.

Let’s say you use Facebook and Instagram as your two main social media channels and you are launching a new product. You may create a platform-specific code, like FACEBOOK10 or INSTAGRAM10 that can be applied at checkout for a 10% discount.

Based on your audience size on each platform, you can then work out a conversion rate for each platform. For the simplicity of the math, let’s say you have 1,000 followers on Facebook and 10 of those followers use the Facebook-specific code. This gives you a conversion rate of 1%. You can then compare this to your average engagement rate by either using Facebook Insights or manually calculating the engagement of the post e.g. if your product post generated 50 likes, comments and shares, then the conversion rate is 5% of your engagement rate.

3.      Create specific landing pages for social media

Another good tactic for those who are not that familiar with GA or don’t want to invest too much time into understanding attribution models and user behaviour on the site is to set up specific landing pages for social media content.

You can create a single landing page for all your social media platforms or you can create a new page for each of your social media channels. That will most likely depend on how many social media platforms you are using and how granular you need your reporting to be.

These pages can be duplicates of the existing content on your website or they can mention platform-specific language – just be sure to correctly deploy the canonical tag to the corresponding page that is not specific to social media so Google does not get confused and think you are trying to spam by adding lots of duplicate pages.

From here, you can then use Google Analytics to monitor traffic, sales and revenue through these specific landing pages and attribute an ROI to those channels based on your audience size (total if you use the same landing page for all social platforms).

It’s then up to you how much you want to do with that data. You can work out the cost of the person that manages your social media platforms (based on the percentage of time they spend managing social media) and attribute an ROI to their work based on how much revenue is generated from sales through that landing page.

Summary

Calculating the actual ROI on social media activity is still difficult and no solution is 100% accurate. If ROI is important to you, however, and you want to make sure you are maximising your return from these channels, implementing those tactics above can help you to at least more accurately estimate that return and allow you to make informed decisions when it comes to the long term strategy around social media for your business.

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