The power and influence of social has grown to new heights in recent years. Having a social presence has almost become a prerequisite for most businesses, but is it enough just to create and host a social media account? How can you ensure that your social media efforts are focused and generating a strong ROI for your company?
We’re pleased to have Kevin Zellmer, vice president of corporate and business development at Silverpop partner Hootsuite, share steps you can take to accurately measure and attribute your social footprint to the ROI of your business.
At Hootsuite, we’re constantly watching the evolution of social media as it relates to business. We’ve seen social media grow from being the sole responsibility of one or two advocates within a department, to being managed by a slightly larger team executing social media across the organization.
We’re now seeing full-fledged social organizations emerging, with marketing, PR, sales, customer service, HR and other departments using social media as a strategic tool for success in their own ways.
And yet, many of these organizations are still struggling to find ways of properly attributing the role that social plays in helping them achieve their business goals.
To properly track and report on the social metrics that matter, you need a solid social attribution strategy in place. Here are four steps to getting started.
1) Align social media metrics with business goals.
Without context as to how they fit within broader business goals, social metrics on their own — such as the number of retweets or likes a post got — provide little value for marketers trying to prove the overall ROI of their social efforts.
Align your social metrics with the specific business goals they best support so that your social data doesn’t have to prove results on its own. For example, if one of your main marketing goals is to increase word-of-mouth, then the social metric you should report on is the number of shares your posts receive. If generating new leads is a big priority, then the click-through rate on the links you post to gated content will help illustrate the value of social.
By reporting on social metrics as they relate to overall marketing and business goals, you’ll be able to better illustrate how the time, energy and budget you’re investing in social media is contributing to the overall success of the business.
2) Connect social technologies with systems of record.
Once your goals are aligned, the next step is creating a social infrastructure within your organization that supports the other technologies you use. Connect your social media engagement and publishing platform to your systems of record — including your Web analytics and any CRM or marketing automation platforms.
This will help effectively scale social media across your organization and create efficiencies when it comes to your daily workflows and reporting capabilities.
For example, the Hootsuite App Directory contains more than 150 applications and integrations — including IBM Silverpop — that can be used to customize your dashboard by linking technologies together.
Using the IBM Silverpop app for Hootsuite, you can track the social behavior of leads that interact with your brand through social networks, use that insight in digital marketing campaigns, and qualify leads through social interactions.
3) Track more than just link clicks.
Many businesses use link shorteners to shrink their URLs, making them easier to share and track on social, but then only report on the number of clicks each link receives. By doing this, they miss out on a valuable attribution opportunity.
Setting UTM tracking parameters for each link shared will allow you to attribute website traffic back to specific social networks. Using Google Analytics, you can then discover what actions these visitors took once on your site.
Let’s say one of your links gets shared on Reddit, and traffic to your site spikes as a result. With tracking parameters in the link, you can look at these results and see what effect this increased traffic actually had on the business. You may discover that the majority of Reddit traffic leads to a high bounce rate, whereas social traffic driven by a post shared widely on Facebook results in more sign-ups for a free trial or subscriptions to the newsletter.
Analyzing these results can help you better report on the impact of your social efforts — beyond the vanity metric of high page views — and identify which social networks you should invest your time and energy into, depending on the goal of your future campaigns.
4) Report both numbers and insights.
To produce reports on social media that are relevant to everyone and useful for guiding business decisions, combine hard numbers with context and insight. There are four types of metrics that comprehensive social analytics reports should contain:
These metrics reflect your performance on each social network specifically: the size and demographics of your communities, the number of engagements, your most popular posts, etc.
These are the metrics that define how your social efforts are impacting other areas of your business, such as website traffic, social sharing over email or forums, the number of forms filled out, or content download as a result of links shared on social.
Both on-network metrics and off-network metrics should also contain a combination of quantitative and qualitative data.
The hard numbers: retweets, likes, link clicks, site visits, the potential and actual reach of your posts, number of downloads, etc.
Anecdotal insights and observations about your communities on social media, including what drives them to take action or what behaviors they exhibit. This also includes theories as to why a certain post resonated more than another, and any potential opportunities on the horizon.
Hootsuite is the most widely used platform for managing social media, loved by over 10 million people around the globe and trusted by more than 800 of the Fortune 1000. With Hootsuite, brands harness the power of social. Our platform brings together your social networks and integrates with hundreds of business applications. It’s the one place to build customer relationships, listen to the needs of the market and grow your revenue. Download the IBM Marketing Cloud app for Hootsuite.
1) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Driving Engagement Using Email + Social”
2) Blog: “3 Tips for Incorporating Social into Your Overall Marketing”
3) Blog: “How Marketing Can Help Provide the Social Support Your Customers Need to Buy Your Products”