Seeing the number of your social media fans (Facebook), followers (Twitter) or subscribers (YouTube) grow feels good. But is that an accurate measurement of the effectiveness of your social media campaigns? Definitely, not! That’s why the biggest challenge that most of the small businesses face today is how to accurately measure the ROI of a social media strategy. Unless and until you know the goals (in regard with your larger sales and marketing strategy) and select the right metrics to focus on, it’s impossible to gauge where your social media campaigns are actually headed.

Before you take a plunge into measuring the ROI of your social media efforts, it’s vital to be clear about what you’re looking to achieve. Different social media campaigns have different purposes or goals. When you’re aware of your ultimate goals, you’ll also find it easy to choose the most appropriate social media channels to focus on.

Do you want your social media fans to engage with your brand? Do you want them to share your content? Do you want them to purchase your products? Do you want them to spread the word about your brand? There are many other goals that you may want to fulfill by launching a social media marketing campaign. The more clarity of goals you have, the better metrics you can select to measure the ROI of your campaigns. As a result, this strategic approach also enables you to modify your campaigns as required.

Measuring the ROI
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to measure the ROI of your social media strategy. There are general metrics that you can use to measure the degree of interaction for your social media pages. Second, there are campaign-focused metrics that you can use to find out whether you’re achieving your larger sales and marketing goals. General metrics relate to networking or building a community of followers whereas campaign-focused metrics are about conversion.

General metrics for a social media campaigns may include ‘likes’, ‘fans’ ‘followers’, ‘shares’, ‘comments’, ‘replies’ etc. By focusing on these metrics, you’ll find out whether your fans are followers are interacting. As a result, you’ll be able to learn the significance of your social network community.

Examples of campaign-focused metrics or goal-based metrics would include traffic to your website or blog, rate of subscription, sales of products and online lead generation among others. If your goal is to drive traffic, you can track URL shares and the rate of click-throughs. To dig out further, you can try to find out what visitors actually do or how they respond once they are on your site. This type of analysis can help you to improve the rate of conversion.

What’s the meaning of having 10,000 Twitter followers if your business objective is to generate online leads? That’s exactly why there’s a sea of difference between general metrics and campaign-based metrics. It’s always important to focus on those metrics that align with your large business goals. If you fail to select appropriate metrics to track, you can never get the maximum out of a social media marketing campaign. So, focus on the right metrics!

Network-by-Network Analysis
Apart from measuring the effort on all your social networks on an aggregate basis, you should also remember to get the picture of how you’re doing with each of the networks you’re using. A network-by-network analysis will help you identify which social platforms are most fulfilling your goals. And then you can invest most of your money and time on those networks that bring you the best results.

Have you chosen the right metrics to focus on? Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions.