Our conversation on The Bella Buzz podcast today is a very important one for business owners, marketing managers, or anyone who is interested in determining how to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) that can be achieved via social media strategies.
Hosts Desiree Scales and Joe Magennis break down the numerous ways of evaluating the success of online marketing efforts. However, there is no accepted standard that has been developed to capture and measure the time invested in participation versus the return that has been gained.
Google Analytics is a good place to start to ensure that you are tracking and analyzing the traffic that is on your site. You can see a clear picture of the traffic coming from the various social networks that you are participating in. We are in a paradigm shift as far as what reliable metrics should be evaluated regarding social media marketing.
Social media analysis at this stage might be closer to evaluating a branding campaign. Brand exposure can be measured in terms of the number of impressions that are generated with an determined value assigned to that exposure, such as you see with a sponsorship investment. There is no exact correlation between the the number of people who see the Philips brand on the Arena in Atlanta and the number of units sold in a market, but there is obviously a long term benefit that the brand gains by being associated with that sponsorship.
Desiree had a conversation with a client Casual Image about establishing a blog and social media campaign. They decided outdoor design would be the topic for those who love to barbeque and enjoy their time on their patio. The topics included in the blog will sometimes actually point his community to other web sites and online sources of content, so won't be captured by his Analytics reports, however it will most certainly generate additional followers because of the value his content provides.
One metric that does work in the social space is comments, so getting a community to start commenting on your blog, or YouTube video channel, or Facebook status comments will give you a good view of how much brand exposure you are getting and could be used as a measure of success.
A real life case study that shows the results of a social media effort, which has garnered significant ROI whether it is exactly measurable or not, can be seen by the ability of @ComcastCares to push the negative corporate imagery off of the first page of Google. A great discussion on this topic can be found at Blog Talk Radio.
Starbucks has implemented an online & offline effort that drives traffic to their Twitter page using posters. Here is a link to the article relating the campaign.
The way to justify the implementation of these campaigns will be to present anecdotal evidence from companies that have seen real results in the past, and to agree on a few metrics that can be used to measure progress such as blog comments and video views. Once these results are demonstrated over a period of time, the business rationale will be established.
How would you assign a value to a Twitter follower or a Facebook fan? Is that something that can be included in an ROI calculation?
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