How to calculate Social Media ROI

17 January 2013

Organisations using Social Media are looking to convert followers to paying customers and wish to achieve or increase ROI from investments in social media.

While marketing professionals have recognized the mandate to be socially engaged, the monetization and ROI of social media to support business goals still eludes many.

Efforts to promote social profiles, pages, sharing, and engagement are meaningless unless they support a path to conversion and positively impact the bottom line. Many marketers struggle to quantify their efforts and demonstrate ROI, unaware that this data is readily available to them through Google Analytics Social Reports.

Tangible Data Drives Results

While other solutions are offering social media insights, Google Analytics integrates social data in context, providing a holistic view of the website as the center of the digital universe for the brand. Data for metrics such as Network Referrals, Pages, Plugins and Visitor Flow are automatically captured in Analytics Reports connect-the-dots between content and community.

Once a dollar value is assigned to each Goal as a Conversion, Google Analytics enables a dollar-based definition of social impact, revealing which visitors, social platforms, and content drive high-quality customers toward conversion and the bottom line.

Marketers no longer have to work to draw assumptions or guess what is or isn't working. Brands seeking to intelligently adapt social strategy in response to conversion and performance data can now do so with ease.

1. Define KPIs for Social Media
Just as you would define the end goal for any other marketing initiative, key performance indicators (KPIs) are vital to strategic planning and reporting on investments in social media. Whether performance will be measured by purchases, email opt-ins, demo requests, shares, downloads, or time spent on the website, Google Analytics Social Reports allow for KPIs to be reflected as Goals.

The impact of social on each defined benchmark is revealed in an easy-to-read report. And, because a Goal can be identified by URL Destination, Visit Duration, Page/Visit or Event, and assigned a Value, measuring performance of social initiatives as they relate to the specific business model and goals of the brand is available to any website using Google Analytics.

Google Analytics enables marketers to determine exactly how valuable social is to realizing goals and completing ecommerce transactions.

2. Use Data to Make Informed Decisions
Data is only useful when it is applied. Social Reports provide marketers data-driven insight to replace the assumptions previously made through observation and mining what data was previously provided.

Google Analytics uses website data to reveal Social Sources, identifying which social networks drive the most traffic, result in conversion and deliver the most high quality visitors. Access to this data enables marketers to identify the highest-performing networks and define how/whether to invest in other social networks to support KPIs and Goals.

The Visitor Flow Report illustrates which paths visitors from social networks take once they arrive on your website, whether they continued onto other pages, or exited the website. This insight can help identify missing links in the conversion path, and drive strategic content development.

3. Leverage Social Data to Drive Content Marketing
The Content Reports provides comparison charts, revealing which of the social networks delivers the most high-value visitors, and which content is most relevant to those who will convert.

The Pages Report identifies the most viral content, shared by others on the website as well as external sites. Invaluable insights can be leveraged to determine what followers, friends and connections find "shareable" to guide the planning and deployment of future content.

The Social Value Graph provides a snapshot of all Goal completions, identifying conversions resulting from social referrals, allowing for comparison to visitors from other sources such as Search, Direct or other Referral Sources.

Google states “Content that gets shared, wins.” Google Analytics Social Plug-ins Report’illuminates which posts on your website have been shared, which social buttons were used, and where the content was shared (Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). These insights can be leveraged to build community and promote organic sharing of content.

4. Leveraging Social Relationships
Measuring the impact of relationships with audiences over time is perhaps one of the most elusive metrics for socially-engaged brands. An immediate conversion is not always won. Sometimes, it simply takes time to build trust, present the right offer, or provide the right incentive to win a conversion.

Google Analytics has made it easier to justify the long-term investment in social, by differentiating between an immediate conversion, or one from a returning visitor. Last Interaction identifies a social referral that results in a conversion. Assisted Social Conversions identify visitors from a social referral source that do not result in a conversion during their first visit, but do convert during a later visit to the website.

This data can be invaluable in justifying the long-term investment in social relationships, as opposed to the temptation to simply use social platforms to deliver one-way broadcasts.

5. Use Social Sources to Learn More About Your Audiences
One of the most powerful aspects of social is the mere fact that behind every interaction is a human. Post-conversion customers are easier to define. However, gathering insight into those who interact with the brand before conversion can be more challenging.

The Google Analytics Social Sources Report shares typical metrics such as page views, duration of visit, pages per visit, etc. by network. Analytics reports how many visitors were referred by social each social network; Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, YouTube and other networks, and displays which content page URLs were shared on each platform.

Additional insights are provided by what Google calls Hub Partner Networks including enhanced off-site data such as URLs shared on that site, and how they were shared (+1, re-share, comments) and conversations around your content on partners such as Google+, Google Groups, Disqus, Digg, and others. View the current list of Google Social Data Hub networks.


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