• Tessa May Marr

How Do I Measure Social ROI?

How do I measure social ROI?

“Well, how are you going to prove the ROI of social?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this... The fact is, anyone working in social media - heck, working anywhere in modern marketing today - is trying to do this. The good news is: we have a pretty good handle on it. The bad news: it’s not a perfect science and we still can’t track to the level of detail that will tell you exactly how much money one Instagram image made you. I wish… But as I said, there is a lot we can do. And I’ll tell you, it’s certainly a lot more information than we used to get with traditional advertising. So let’s walk through it.

We’re going to use three companies as examples for the purposes of this content.

  • Company A: B2C company selling consumer products mostly online to a wide target market at $50

  • Company B: B2B company selling software to enterprise companies starting at $15,000/year

  • Company C: A small publishing company that works with 20-30 writers per year with an average deal around $30,000.


The first thing we need to define, before we can define what metrics matter, is what our objectives are. That’s going to be key to knowing what you should be tracking. Every brand is going to have slightly different objectives for investing in social media. And any good strategy will be sure to define these up front as they will influence the content, the platforms and the metrics selected. Let’s look at a few and which companies would select which ones.

"Every brand is unique (or should be at least). So too should be the way in which a brand invests in social media, as well as the motivation behind that investment. For you to determine your ROI, you must know exactly what you wanted to achieve by leveraging social media. Define your goals early and as specifically as possible - it will provide for better clarity as data piles up." - Katie Burkhart, Brand Storyteller www.kburkhart.com

Now you may say: “Well hold up - don’t they all want to sell their product or service?” Well yes, they do. But is it at all realistic to think that social media is going to accomplish that on its own? For some companies - it is. It’s reasonable to think that, with Company A, someone might see a Facebook ad for their product, click through the site and order online. After all, it’s just $50 and they don’t have to check with anyone else about putting that in their room. But it’s a lot less likely to see an online conversion happening immediately following a tweet for Company B, where sales cycles usually take 12+ touchpoints, involve up to 5 stakeholders and cost upwards of $15k. You see?

“Social media acts as an accelerant to buzz-building initiatives - increasing the lifetime engagement of a piece of original content, drawing more eyes to news coverage, or promoting an upcoming speaking engagement. And, the effects are compounding - social often acts as an authoritative spokesperson for a brand in its own way, leading to future opportunities and improving the result of any investment made in PR or content marketing.” - Katie Martell, On-Demand Marketer www.katie-martell.com


Simply put: how many followers you have.

One of the keys to success in social media is getting your audience to grow. You’re not going to see great results if you’re only speaking to the same 50 people, tweet after tweet. There are ways to accelerate your audience growth with a little investment, ensuring that you are targeting the right people who (you hope) want to hear from you. (i.e. Facebook advertising makes it very easy!) And with that, you need to ensure you’ve got a strong, branded presence, and some great content on your platforms so people think you’re worth following.

Setting benchmarks for how much or how fast you should be growing is challenging, as different brands and industries see different results, but a good aim is for about 400-500 new followers each month. (If this i