How to Measure the Value of Social Media

Source: Sprout Social ROI has always been one of the most debated topics in the marketing department. John Wanamaker, a very successful 18th and 19

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How to Measure the Value of Social Media
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ROI has always been one of the most debated topics in the marketing department. John Wanamaker, a very successful 18th and 19th century merchant, is credited with coining the phrase “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Social media ROI is no different. What’s the value of a Like? How much return do you get from a Retweet? These are the types of questions that often come up when you’re trying to figure out how social pays off for your business.

However, those questions don’t speak to the true value of social. In order to figure out the real value of social media in your organization, you have to think as much about relational as you do about transactional.

Social ROI Isn’t Just Transactional

It’s not that a transactional approach to social media ROI is completely irrelevant. It’s very relevant. However, a lot of the value from social doesn’t show up immediately. For instance, a prospect you shared an article with on Twitter may come back and purchase from you three months later because they bookmarked your content. And if they clicked on a Google Ad, credit will be given to Google, even though social attributed to the conversion.

This is the way social media ROI is viewed through a traditional perspective:

A user clicks a link in your Tweet, then makes a purchase.

Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Social ROI looks more like this:

You build familiarity with a user through sharing multiple valuable social media posts. Over time they grow to know, like and trust you. Eventually, they might make a purchase. Or they share your content with a friend that makes a purchase. Or something you share gets picked up by an authority who sees it, shares it with their followers and you get exposure to a new audience.

The point is, social media ROI isn’t as cut and dry as you might think.

The direct link between social media and a new customer might not always be as direct as a Google Adwords or media buying campaign. But the return you get from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other networks can be just as great, if not better than “traditional” marketing channels.

Social Impacts More Than Just Social

When you talk about the value of social media, you need to consider the value it brings to other aspects of your company as well. Whether it’s learning more about your target audience so you can better serve them, building awareness for your brand or retaining existing customers, social media now has a hand in nearly every part of your business that involves customers.

The problem is some marketers aren’t sure how or where to start when it comes to proving the value of Social. We think we can help with that.

First, you need to define your goals. What do you want to accomplish on social? Below are just a few examples:

Your goals may be a combination of these, or some we haven’t mentioned, and that’s fine too. The point is, social media ROI will look different depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. However, just because you didn’t state a goal doesn’t mean you’re not collecting some of the inherent benefits social media delivers to your business. Here’s a more in-depth look at how to determine social media ROI based on your goals:

Get More Traffic

With over 31% of all traffic now coming from social media, brands need to start making it a priority. Just three years ago, social only drove 22% of all traffic.

The takeaway here is consumers rely on social media to find content more than ever before. It’s representative of the way people consume information today vs 15 years ago. In a world where 62% of people get their their news from social media, your brand can’t afford to nonexistent on Twitter, Facebook and other networks.

percentage of adults that get news from social media
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Social continues to prove it’s one of the most valuable traffic generators. Plus, one of the biggest advantages of driving traffic from social as opposed to other sources, is the branding and awareness benefits you get along with it.

When people find your site through search or a paid ad, they may collect the information they want and completely forget about you. On social media, people can start following you with the tap of a button, which delivers long-term benefits and opportunities to re-engage with them again and again.

Once you’re able to get someone to follow your brand, you continue to share content with them on a regular basis. Instead of hoping and waiting for prospects or consumers to visit your website when they’re ready to buy, your brand will already be top of mind.

And to add to this, social media traffic becomes increasingly valuable over time. As your audience becomes more familiar with your brand, they’ll grow to trust you and be more inclined to purchase your offerings.

Social media is a way to introduce people to your brand and nurture them through providing helpful and educational content.

How to Find the Information in Sprout

Every article you share on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn from Sprout is automatically tracked. This allows you to see exactly where your traffic comes from when people click your links. It’s also broken down per network. You can access this report by connecting your Google Analytics account directly to our app.

sprout social google analytics integration
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Measure your improvements in social traffic over time and see how it corresponds with your business growth. You can use Sprout to generate reports and share the learnings with others on your team.

Build Awareness

Social media is an excellent way to build awareness for your brand. With millions of active users spread across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other networks, the reach you get on social is amazing—and it’s more credible coming…

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