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The ROI of Knowing Your Social ROI

“Social ROI” is the buzz term on every social marketer’s lips these days, but what does it actually mean, and why is it important? In other words, what’s the ROI of knowing your social ROI?

money cash regular show dollar bankThe truth is, ROI = impact. In general, this means revenue, but how that happens can vary by organization. As social media expert Lilach Bullock so eloquently puts it, “The issue is, measuring your social media ROI is not always very straightforward. The best way to start is to figure out what your goals are: are you looking for increased brand awareness? More traffic or conversions? Only once you know your goals can you figure out exactly which metrics you need to measure.”

Now you know the how — but what’s the why? Here’s why you need to know your social ROI.

MendenhallBasic: Justifying Your Existence

Nathan Mendenhall, Director of Social Media at THAT Agency, argues that showing ROI keeps us social marketers in our jobs:

Proving social ROI justifies our existence as marketers. Engagement metrics are great, but they don’t always tie to the bottom line. Social ROI can come in many different forms, so we have to set goals and prove that our strategies are driving towards them.

If you’re not showing your client and/or boss some kind of return on their investment in you and social media — increased site visits, more purchases, ballooning engagement, whichever growth metrics fit their larger marketing goals — that won’t be your client and/or boss for long.

Intermediate: Deepening Audience Connection

220d451The next level of “why social ROI matters” goes beyond mere metrics. Eileen Perez, Social Media Analyst at C-4 Analytics, told us:

Social ROI is much more than clicks and views. It’s engagement, conversation, and understanding. It proves that SM is communication.

When I asked why that communication is equivalent to ROI, Eileen responded:

Why wouldn’t communication be important? You need to be able to connect with your audience or public authentically. Part of our job is to educate and consult, which is what we do on social media to consumers, too!

The social ROI for many brands is the deeper, unique connection to their audiences that social media affords — as well as a great opportunity for market research.

Social is where the conversations about you and your brand are happening, whether you are engaging there or not. This is an easy win.

Intermediate: Getting More Budget

3a97d48-1If you want to run a full-on social program, you’ll eventually need more budget for growing your social team, gaining vital video resources, and investing in social ads. Ron Schott, who runs Global Advertising and Social Ads at Microsoft, had this to say:

If we want a seat at the table when it comes to budgets, we need to be able to prove how our efforts impact the bottom line. Social advertising needs to be just as grown-up as display, search, and TV.

To get a seat at that big boy/girl table and the budget you crave, you’ll need to quickly and easily report on social activities, and be able to attribute company revenue to social efforts.

Advanced: Showing Multiple Goal Completions

23999a2Most social and digital teams are tasked with hitting more goals than just one. Brian Lutz, Director of Digital Strategies at CBL Properties, told me:

At CBL, the strategy behind social media is more than just enhancing the in-mall experience. It’s about inspiring shopping center visits, increasing the number of stores visited and capturing business intelligence. All of the above directly affect our bottom line, and the results of these efforts are at the top of our quarterly report to the executives.

Are you able to attribute major, multiple goal completions–like purchases and website visits–to your social efforts? Proving social ROI is a multi-pronged endeavor for most social marketing teams. Once you have the systems in place to optimize and measure these multiple goal completions, you’ll be able to show how your tentacles reach and lift up almost every part of your business.

Advanced: Validating and Expanding

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAhIAAAAJDIyMjU0NGNhLWNjYTItNDZjMi1hMmJmLWFjNzE4N2IxYzk1MAKelly Byrd, PR Engineer at AirPR, sees social ROI not just as a “proving” function, but also as the differentiating factor for ambitious, forward-thinking brands:

Proving social ROI is important because, without measurement and analysis of content and community management results and their tie to your business, you cannot validate or expand.

Ultimately, she says,

What Does “The ROI of Knowing Your Social ROI” Mean to You?

Why is social ROI important (or not important) to you and your team? Let us know on Twitter, and download our Guide to Social ROI below if you need an action plan for putting your own ROI system into place.

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The Social Marketer’s Guide to Social Media ROI


Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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