What Analytics Don’t Tell You About Success on Social Media

“Life truly is a boomerang. What you give, you get,” said Dale Carnegie. Funny enough, this is the same mantra that can be spoken for social media strategy.

The return on investment for social media can be elusive, often scrutinized and characterized by insights, analytics, calculations, and formulas. But what your social media ROI means is simply making sure you’re getting back what you put in (like a boomerang!). Often, that’s reflected in sentiment, rather than hard data.

From brand loyalty to building community, there are a variety of intangible elements that are nearly impossible to quantify, which is why our strategies are geared toward overall sentiment and qualitative data, versus traditional ROI.

With that said, there’s extreme power in social media for businesses that do it right and understand the time and resource investment it requires. A smart and strategic social media plan allows businesses to build brand awareness, loyalty, and community.

Understanding the Boomerang Effect in Social Media ROI

A recent study shows that 70% of online businesses do not consider the ROI of their social media. Social media needs regular performance reviews to know if it’s working for your goals, both intrinsically and financially. It’s no different than taking your car for an engine check, tune-up, and oil change.

Simply put, social media ROI is the return you get from the resources (time and money) you use on social media. It’s typically measured in monetary form, but, of course, some social media reactions (like the number of likes or followers) don’t immediately map to monetary value. Your organization can, however, attach an economic value to your goals to know the return of your resources. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s about whether your social media experience meets your goals and expectations (however you intend).

Social media is resource intensive. It requires moderation, engagement, and management. It has stakeholders within multiple departments and helps carry your external messaging. A digital strategist may spend many hours per week creating social media content, campaign ads, and the like. As such, it’s imperative to stay up on the ever-changing algorithms, news, and trends that can help your strategy and content yield results.

What Factors You Should Measure for Your Social Media Investment

So how can we measure social media ROI in the qualitative sense? Keep these insights in mind:

Choose your goal. Typically, people think of garnering new followers as their primary social media goal. It’s a worthy metric, but go beyond that to consider the moments you’re creating for your audience. The times you’re able to surprise and delight your followers. The interactions that build long-term trust among the audience and create in them a kinship for your brand. The high touch social customer support that people learn to expect on your social channels; with the resultant loyalty and word of mouth that this can bring, that support can be worth its weight in gold. Look past the signups, link clicks, and video views and establish deeper goals that reflect the true value of your connections with your social followers.

Track your performance. With predetermined goals in mind, keep an eye on your progress. Is it as you expected? Traditional tools like Google Analytics will let you measure your performance via such metrics as leads, customers, traffic, conversion rate, and reach. Social media insight tools offer detailed information on your page’s shares, likes, followers, and number of visits. But what’s more unique to your company are those elements that are harder to quantify: think sentiment, customer experience, and brand loyalty. Much of your investment in social media and community efforts are geared toward long tail results. You’re striving to create a better experience for your audience, which is both qualitative and quantitative. This will bring in ROI down the road, and perhaps not mirror the immediate results of, say, a social media ad campaign. You’re laying the foundation here, and as such, your qualitative results must be given just as much consideration as anything you can glean from a dashboard.

Attach value to your goals. This is where you blend your statistical analysis with the worth you place on your customer engagement efforts. It’s hard to attach a specific figure to community building efforts with your social audience. How much value can you ascribe to a social customer support interaction, for example? Better instead to be aware of such tangible results as those seen from a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign, to determine how much you spent on customer acquisition, and factor in your company’s unique valuation of customer relationship building and the worth of a thriving social community.

The Takeaway

Community building on social media does not bring about an immediate return on investment. It takes time, trial, and growth. Measuring ROI — in both qualitative and quantitative measures — will give you a clearer picture of the success of your efforts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and other social media platforms.

We provide outsourced social media management services to businesses around the world. For more information or assistance on social media and digital community management, contact us.

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