Digital Insights

HOW TO: Measure Social Media ROI


Published: October 11, 2009

Companies and executives are finally beginning to really jump on the social media bandwagon, and that’s fantastic. However, for social media to fully work (for everyone), businesses and brands need to be able to evaluate the impact their social media use is having, both positive and negative. Measuring social media ROI isn’t impossible, but it can be difficult because many of the pieces that need to be evaluated are difficult to track. This guide is designed to help you track down those pieces and determine the ROI you’re getting on social media.

ROI Reality Check

Define Clear  Goals

As a standard formula, ROI is pretty basic, ROI = (X – Y) / Y, where X is your final value and Y is your starting value. In other words, if you invest $5 and get back $20, your ROI is (20 – 5) / 5 = 3 times your initial investment. In the financial sense, ROI is measured purely in the context of dollars and cents, however, the principles can really apply to any type of investment — monetary or not.

Having concrete goals and concrete baselines is crucial to  calculating your return on investment. So before you set out to measure and monitor your social media returns, you need to have a clear idea of what it is you want to accomplish.  Once you have your goals defined, you need to gauge the baseline for your levels before starting or changing your social media strategy. For example, if your goal is to increase social media mentions of your company, in order to measure the ROI of any actions taken toward that goal, you need to know where you stand now. You can’t evaluate the ROI accurately without a baseline.

Metric Tools

Google Analytics It’s free and it can provide a really powerful baseline for a variety of different factors. You can track incoming links and then the activities of the users they send, which can be helpful.

The trick is to not rely solely on the numbers, but on what the numbers end up leading to. For instance, does your increase in website visitors correlate with higher sales? Are people that find your website from Twitter or Facebook then clicking on your product pages or going to the e-Commerce section of your site? That’s the sort of data you want to be able to look for.