It’s the question that’s been plaguing marketers since the advent of social media: How do you measure social media's marketing effectiveness? Yet only 11.5 percent of marketing leaders claim that they have proven the impact of social media quantitatively. That’s according to the most recent CMO survey of 289 CMOs.
According to the same survey, another 40.6 percent report having a good qualitative sense of social media’s impact, but not a quantitative sense. Meanwhile, 47.9 percent report they have not been able to show any impact at all.
The most troubling aspect of this for CMOs is that these numbers have remained relatively stagnant when discussing return on investment from social media strategies.
Despite this lack of an ability to show a quantitative connection between social media and ROI, CMOs still feel pressure from CEOs to measure impact — and with the upward trend of social media’s prominence, that pressure is only expected to escalate. While social media spend is currently slated at 10 percent of marketing budgets, it’s forecast to rise to 22.4 percent in the next five years.
With this in mind, marketers need to have a successful strategy to accurately measure billions of social data points and turn those into insights — something most CMOs have yet to effectively accomplish.
4 Steps to Measure Social Media's Impact
Though that may paint a bleak picture for the industry, all is not lost for marketers. There are some useful techniques available that will ensure marketers are implementing the best metrics for their clients to measure social media, and are in turn delivering the highest marketing ROI:
1. Set Goals That Align With Metrics
Before you can measure your efforts, it’s necessary to distinguish what your campaign’s goals are. Once that’s established, then you can build subsequent metrics that support those goals. Different goals call for different metrics and tactics, whether you’re charged with building awareness for your client or making sales conversions. Metrics need to be validated to ensure they measure what they are meant to measure.
2. Build Dashboards and Establish Appropriate Benchmarks
Realistically, marketers are tracking metrics across multiple different sources as they try to measure social media.
The best way to aggregate these data sources is by creating social media dashboards that show an across-the-board view of how campaigns are performing. Dashboards save time by offering real-time access to performance metrics all in one convenient spot. Once these are built, it’s important to establish benchmarks to be able to show clients how far they’ve come since the campaign started.
3. Invest in Analytics
One of the biggest missteps for marketers is underutilizing the marketing analytics that are available to them. According to a Duke University study, marketers only spend 2.3 percent of their budgets measuring ROI. The reality is that measuring social media’s impact requires investing in metrics, which could entail additional employees, agency partnerships, technology, tools and/or customer databases.
4. Have Faith in Your Metrics
There’s always going to be a shiny new tool debuting in the market, promising to be a game changer for your social media campaign. Given that many marketers are still having trouble measuring this impact, it’s obvious that not all of these new tools are capable of revolutionizing your business. Have faith in the metrics and tools that have proven their value as a best practice and align with clients’ goals. Skipping around from metric to metric wastes time, money and resources.
Too many marketers think measuring ROI for their social media campaigns is a pipe dream. However, if you’re able to follow these tips for your campaigns, you’ll be able to rise above the challenge almost 90 percent of companies today are still facing.
Zuzanna serves as VP of Marketing for DataSift, the leader in Human Data intelligence, where she oversees the company's marketing operations. A published sociologist, Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson left academia in 2000 to pursue a career in marketing. Zuzanna is known for building the brand of Huddle to become the global leader in collaboration and content management for government and enterprise. In 2005, Zuzanna co-founded Custard, a digital lifestyle agency specializing in advising the likes of Disney and Garmin, and was behind the now-defunct Silicon Stilettos, a meet-up for women in tech, start-ups and social media.