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How to measure the ROI of social media campaigns

What’s the best way to measure Return on Investment when planning social media campaigns? How can you justify the time and the budget spent on them?

Ever since social networks showed up in our lives, there has been an ongoing discussion among marketing teams surrounding whether social media is worth the time and effort invested into it.

Many of us recognize its benefits as part of a digital marketing strategy, but it isn’t always easy to measure its effectiveness. This has become even more challenging as budgets have grown larger.

As social networks have grown (both in size and in number), so have the expectations from their usage. It’s no longer enough for a company to justify social media marketing by counting the number of likes or comments they receive.

There is a need for a proper analysis of each platform, along with the right use of metrics that can establish which are the most effective social networks for each company.

The challenge of finding a ROI for social media

Return on Investment (ROI) has rapidly become a buzzword among marketers: a phrase that is often used, but rarely defined.

Not every company will see the same ROI from using social media. In fact, not even every campaign will yield the same ROI for a specific company. This makes it harder to answer the question:

“What is the ROI of social media campaigns?”

Measuring Return on Investment doesn’t have to be about putting an absolute figure on the value of a social media campaign; it’s more about gauging whether or not your campaign has achieved the goal that it set out to achieve, to an extent that justifies the resources you invested into it.

Thus, the best way to respond to this question is by splitting the answer into three types of campaigns. This makes it easier for every company to find the goals that fit their campaign and thus, the ROI that they should expect from them.

Brand awareness

A campaign that aims for brand awareness is attempting to increase a company’s exposure to a particular audience.

The KPIs for a brand awareness campaign are usually an increase in:

  • reach
  • followers
  • traffic

The idea is to use the campaign to reach a wider audience that might be interested in the brand’s particular product or service. As social media users become more demanding year on year, it’s important to create such campaigns to try to grab their attention, until they are ready to start the process of becoming customers.

The ROI in this case has to do with the time and the budget spent on brand awareness, and the change in KPIs that resulted. Campaigns that aim for brand awareness may require a large budget invested in reaching a wider audience, so it is crucial to be able to show results that justify this.

  • Did the campaign actually increase the number of followers and interest towards your brand?
  • Did traffic towards your site increase during the time of the campaign?

Increased engagement

A campaign that aims for increased engagement for a brand is trying to spark discussions about that brand in the most genuine way.

The aim of increasing engagement in a brand’s social network has to do with a wider attempt to boost social media interaction among the target audience. Engagement serves as a good indicator of a user’s sentiment and interest in a brand, and it can be monitored through:

  • number of likes
  • number of comments
  • number of shares
  • type of reactions (on Facebook)
  • brand mentions

The ROI for the campaigns of increased engagement has to do with the proof that the time spent towards engaging with the audience had an actual value.

  • How has the engagement increased during the time of the campaign?
  • Was there a genuine interest from social users towards the brand?
  • What are the chances that these people will continue interacting with your brand in the future?

Lead generation

A lead generation campaign is one that uses a tangible hook to direct social users towards a specific landing page. Whether it’s a free gift, a report, or an ebook, brands use lead generation campaigns to increase:

  • traffic to the site
  • number of email subscribers
  • number of downloads for a specific piece of content
  • number of form completions

Lead generation campaigns can be used to grab the audience’s attention and make it easier to have a further discussion with them. The other advantage of running lead generation campaigns is of course gaining the “lead” – the customer’s contact information – that gives you a means of marketing to them more over the long term.

It’s important to aim for relevance and value when generating leads, as these two elements combined increase the chances for a social user to turn into a customer further down the funnel.

The ROI for this type of campaign is to justify the budget spent on the hook and the actual campaign, towards the set goals. It’s good to start the campaign with specific numbers in mind, as the ideal metrics that a campaign can reach. This estimate helps a brand have a clear goal without losing the focus on metrics that are not the primary goal.

For example, if a brand offers a free ebook in a lead generation campaign with the goal of increasing the number of email subscribers, the key metric is the actual number of people who were interested enough in the content to volunteer their email addresses.

If there is an increase of social followers along with it, that can serve as an additional success, but it’s still not the primary goal that the brand was seeking to achieve.

When examining the ROI for such campaigns, it’s a good idea to ask:

  • Is my brand closer to reaching its established goals?
  • Was the hook effective for the particular campaign?
  • Did I set the right goals to measure the effectiveness of the campaign?

Social media ROI is not a myth

During the early years of social media marketing, establishing ROI was more challenging, and this led to the misconception that social networks are not as effective as other forms of marketing.

However, times have changed and we’re lucky enough to discover every day all the creative ways that social media marketing can be part of a wider digital strategy.

As social media usage increases, it’s more exciting than ever to come up with the best campaigns that will help you get closer to your goals.

All you need is the measurement that will justify your efforts.

by Tereza Litsa
source: ClickZ