Social Media ROI Measurement: Notes and Resources

Social media can be a powerful tool for communicating with your customers and reaching new prospects. A survey by Mashable found that 84 percent of social media programs don’t measure return on investment (ROI). It also found that many individuals and businesses don’t know how to measure the ROI of their social media strategies and campaigns.

Social Media ROI: The Conversation

I was fortunate to be included in a panel discussion on the subject of ROI.  The event was produced by the Sacramento Chapter of the Social Media Club with the intention of covering the topics:

  • Best practices in social media measurement
  • How to calculate ROI with social media campaigns
  • When social media should be a part of a comprehensive communication strategy

Innovative marketing pro, Gordon Fowler, President & CEO, 3Fold Communications (@Gordon3Fold) and Josh Hilliker, Director of Social Media, Intel-GE Care Innovations (@JoshProStar) were co-panelists.  Josh is the Director of Social Media at Care Innovations, an Intel-GE Company. He is responsible for the company’s Social Media strategy, online communities and product evangelism. Gordon is CEO of one of the few growing interactive marketing and public relations firms in Sacramento.  He is a thought leader in brand strategy and generational marketing.

With well over a hundred attendees the conversation de-railed a bit into tools and tactics.  It proved to be somewhat of a frustrating experience for some, considering the need for strategic thinking.  The audience did get what they wanted.  I’m just not sure it’s the information that was (is) really needed. There were plenty of salient points covered and I encourage you to view the Social Media ROI panel discussion in its entirety here.

Hopefully, we see these events as only the beginning of the dialogue. Continuing the conversation is the first step toward collaboration, real results and real answers.  I’ve curated some resources and will provide some perspective with the hope that it will be discussed and augmented by those of you that want to know where and how you should be spending your time online in social media.

You can view  see the  conversation on twitter  from the event by searching #smcsac on Twitter.

twitter conversation hashtag #smcsac example

Much of our thinking applies first to larger companies.  The notes I prepared for the panel discussion apply to any size organization, as the membership of the Sacramento Social Media Club skews toward smaller businesses.


Social Media ROI: Research and Notes

Here’s a summary of some thoughts and pre-panel discussion research:

Old ROI is accurate due to lots of data. Maturity of Process.

New ROI – Is It Measurable??
New Data, New Content, New Devices = New Metrics
ROI results skewed by volume and brand value
Establish a baseline
Make Metrics Campaign and Timeline Driven
Conventional Campaigns + Social Media = Enhanced ROI
Return On Ignorance?

Social Media Benefits / Metrics
More Sales [Revenue Win]
Understand Customers Better [Marketing Win]
Better Customer Service [Loyalty Win]
Increase Net Promoter Score [Loyalty Win]
Brand Building [Awareness Win]
Engaged Employees [Productivity Win]
Engaged Customers and Raving Fans! [The Biggest Win Of All]




Here’s the full slideshare presentation

– Tactics before strategy is a risky business.

– Strategy is plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal or objective.

– Start by evaluating the situation (audit). What do you want to accomplish, what are your resources, what buy-in do you have internally, do you have a written SM policy, are you integrating SM with other marketing?

– Identify what you’re trying to accomplish in business and tie to social media.

– Levels of listening (from Jeremiah Owyang) – 1. No objective, 2. Tracking brand mentions, 3. Identifying market risk and ops, 4. Improving campaign efficiencies, 5. Measuring customer satisfaction, 6. Responding to customer inquiry, 7. Better understanding of customers, 8. Being proactive and anticipating customers

– Facebook is now an effective search engine/listening tool.

– As you’re preparing your budget, account for whether you need a paid monitoring tool.
– Marketers as publishers, owning not renting your media channels, attract and/or retain customers by creating valuable/compelling content on a consistent basis to maintain or change a behavior.
– Create great content to: create a hub/home base for news, opinion and content, establish brand as expert, promote/raise awareness of your brand products or services, connect with target community.
– The new framework: the 7 C’s – 1. Content is king (not just around your brand, but make it meaningful to industry as a whole), 2. Community (grow it through valuable content), 3. Conversation (have to be part of conversations happening to foster communities), 4. Collaboration (give community chance to collaborate with each other), 5. Connections (community will ultimately be your best advocates).
– Monitoring and measurement go hand-in-hand.

– Different sets of analytics for different goals – that’s why you must establish goals at first.

– Monitoring is watching/listening to convos to determine a course of action. Measurement is quantifying or qualifying online activity to establish success, failure or comparison.

– Define requirements first, develop your social media playbook, make your own measurement framework.
– Most important business metrics: How much did we make (sales/leads)? How much did we save? Are our customers happy?
– If you’re monitoring: protect your rep, facilitate customer support, invite innovation, build trust, market through conversation, gather business intelligence.

– If you’re measuring: improve branding and awareness, protect/improve reputation, build community/advocacy, increase customer satisfaction, harvest research, drive sales/leads.

– Key takeaway: you have to set goals, measurement can’t happen if you don’t know what you want to accomplish.

– Monitoring data (performance indicators): volume of convo, sentiment and tone around brand, conversational marketshare, competition comparison, related topics, influential voices, location of convos, brand mentions, audience characteristics, service issues/needs, real time ops. KPIs are which of these are most important to you.

– Measurement data – website metrics, conversions, search metrics, share metrics, social audience metrics (follows, comments, ratings, sentiments, outpost activity, etc.).

– Not a question of what is the ROI of social media, it’s a question of what I’m getting out of it. Tie back to goal.

– Free monitoring: PeopleBrowser, uberVu, BoardTracker, IceRocket. Understand there are limitations to fee – limited data and functionality, most reporting is manual, RSS.

– Alterian, Lithium SM Monitoring, Radian6, Sysomos – top 4 paid monitoring.

– Online research solutions: NetBase, Listen Logic, Spiral16, Crimson Hexagon, etc.

– Hardest part of tools: setting up searches, insist on assistance, expect trial and error, be patient, understand 100% accuracy is not possible.

– Reminders: select reports that reflect the KPIs of your goals, produce different reports for different stakeholders, automate as much as you can, contextualize what you’re reporting with summary.

– Reporting solutions –,,,

– Takeaway: Report business metrics first, KPIs after.

Here’s what big brands are seeing as far as ROI is concerned.


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