How to Know if Social Media is Moving the Needle

Social Media ROISocial media is a major marketing tool for businesses, and these days, thousands (if not millions) of marketers can attest to its benefits. However, CFOs and CEOs often have a hard time committing funds to support these efforts. And according to data from MDG Advertising, 44% of businesses have trouble accurately measuring social media ROI.

One of the key reasons behind this is the difficulty of tying social media metrics – like engagement and traffic – to metrics such as new customers, new prospects and sales growth. Here are several ways you can utilize hard data points to prove that your social media marketing is truly moving the needle within your business and delivering the results that you need.

Defining Success for Your Brand

As you’re creating a social media strategy, it’s important that you first determine what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to introduce a new product line to your current customers? Find new customers for your retail business? Grow awareness of your brand in your community?

These are all valid and worthy goals, but each requires measuring a different metric for success. Not every business will need to track each of the metrics below, but a subset of them will help determine whether or not your social media marketing is a justifiable way to spend marketing dollars.

1. Engagement

In traditional print or media advertising, total impressions are the best way to determine the reach of your messaging. Social media engagement rates are quite different. You can not only see the number of people who are viewing your content, but also measure direct actions that are taken by your audience, such as:

  • Likes and reactions
  • Shares and retweets
  • Comments
  • Video views
  • Responses to a particular contest or promotion

It’s no surprise that 80% of marketers use engagement as their primary success metric. These actions are proactive steps that your viewers must take in order to share or interact with your message. And this helps you identify some of your best and most lucrative prospects for a future direct advertising push.

Measuring engagement also allows you to determine which content is most interesting to your audience, which can lead to new product development or revised marketing messages.

To learn more, see how SproutSocial breaks down the most important social media metrics that you need to track.

2. Brand Awareness

Hootsuite recently shared suggestions on proving the value of brand awareness tactics on social media. Awareness and perception in your local community and beyond can be extremely important to proving social legitimacy for new followers. Some of the benchmarks that are commonly used to measure the growth of brand awareness include:

  • The number of followers your brand has captured;
  • Total new followers;
  • Organic growth of your account; and
  • The number of times that your account is mentioned across social media platforms.

Social media influencers are able to help you enhance brand awareness by sharing your content with their extended audiences, too. In fact, a study conducted by Activate found that 78% of marketers leverage influencer partnerships to increase brand awareness. To measure effectiveness, Social Media Examiner suggests using five analytic approaches, including measuring campaign engagement and origin of sales.

3. Lead Generation

Gathering leads via social media platforms has never been easier. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have all developed highly interactive paid advertising tools that are easy to use and make it simple for users to share their information with your brand. What’s more, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits by spending as little as six hours per week on social media.

According to the American Marketing Association, it’s important to match the social platform that you select for lead generation with the message you are sharing. Some audiences are better served on Twitter, while others might gravitate towards Snapchat or Pinterest. Metrics you’ll want to track include:

  • The total views and clicks of your lead generation ad;
  • The number of completed forms; and
  • The number of individuals who abandoned the forms (if applicable).

This final metric lets you know if there’s a problem with your messaging or your form.

New Revenue

Growing sales is one of the most cited metrics for measuring marketing effectiveness, but it can also be challenging to tie sales to a particular marketing tactic. With social media, you are able to track a complete eCommerce transaction from inception to the purchase and follow-up.

You can also view the lifetime value of your customers. Look at the number of leads that turn into opportunities, shift to new customers, and become ongoing advocates for your brand. Most importantly, take into account the revenue generated by specific boosted posts or ads.

Measuring Social Media Marketing Success

When you have a firm understanding of the outcomes that you are trying to accomplish with your social media marketing, the metrics fall into line. Tracking these metrics over time allows you to determine whether or not specific tactics are providing the ROI that you expect.

One of the many benefits of social media marketing is how quickly you can tweak and make changes to underperforming campaigns so you’re not wasting money on messages that don’t resonate with your audience.


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