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ROI Indicators in Social Media
By: Ryan Stoldt
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It’s finally happened. Most businesses have stopped questioning whether they should be on social media and are attempting to connect to consumers in the digital realm. Now that this exodus has taken place into social media, businesses are questioning the best ways to measure ROI in social media. It really isn’t as difficult as many people think. Simple indicators go a long way toward showing how people respond and interact with content.
Before this conversation begins, a couple of disclaimers need to be made. First, all social media content needs either a call to action or a purpose that reinforces the brand. Posts with a call to action should be trackable. Brand posts should grab attention, reinforce messages, and aid current strategies or campaigns. Secondly, products are easier to sell than services via social media. Strategies can easily be adapted to work for both though.
Now we can actually discuss how to track customers' actions and ROI.
Likes, shares, favorites, retweets, and pins give decent indicators of engagement, but they aren’t enough to actually show whether people are responding to a call to action. Although site-hosted analytics are improving, they’re still not in depth enough to truly track ROI. The numbers that should actually be tracked will come from other sites.
Third-party analytic tracking systems are essential in measuring engagement. HootSuite, TweetDeck, and Google Analytics are all useful sites to track, and each provides slightly different information. HootSuite and TweetDeck allow users to schedule posts, shorten links, and track the success of clicks. This is a major indicator of ROI. If you are linking to sources that aren’t directly connected with your brand, seeing that consumers are clicking the links is the equivalent of dropping them off at the checkout counter. If you are connecting to your brand, you can then use Google Analytics to see the rest of the process.
One of the most useful features in Google Analytics for measuring ROI is the sources of traffic section. Within this section, Google tracks where visitors come from. This shows where you are succeeding in social media. From there, Google Analytics also walks through how consumers flow through the website. By matching this information with the links posted via social media, it is easy to see if people are following through on a requested action or getting lost along the way. This ultimately spells out ROI for businesses.
If seeing that they are going through the website isn’t enough, businesses have other options as well. One of the easiest ways is to create custom content for social media that will directly show if the customers are buying or not. A simple example of this can be seen through a sale on a website. Release a custom coupon code on social media for a product or service. As people jump to the link, work their way through your website, and buy the product, executives will be able to see the exact dollar amount that a campaign brought in. It’s hard to beat exact dollar amounts when measuring ROI.
All of the information gathered through gauging ROI won’t necessarily show what bosses want to see immediately. Social media is a learning process, though. If customers are cutting off at a certain point within a website after following a link, see how the website can be changed. If consumers are not responding to certain social media content, reconsider the strategy being used to engage them. True ROI will be seen after time and energy is spent on social media and engagement is at its easiest form for the consumer.

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About the Author
Ryan Stoldt is a digital strategist with a B.A. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Wichita State University. Find him online here
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