One of the biggest marketing strategy misconceptions is the idea that social media marketing is “free.” This word tends to excite business owners, having them hope for instantaneous and effortless success. The result from this misconception is too often underwhelming and frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be.
Social media marketing is not free. Even without launching paid advertisements on social media, there are content creation and management costs in a successful social strategy. However, social media marketing can be an extremely effective and substantially lower cost option than many traditional content strategy methods. In a 6th Annual Report on Social Media Marketing, Social Media Examiner found that, “by spending as little as 6 hours per week, over 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media.” Good content (through any channel) takes time, skill, and maintenance. Demonstrating ROI through social media can be a challenge, but it is possible.
Social Media Marketing Strategy: How to Measure ROI
Set Actionable Goals
The first step in any strong content strategy is defining concrete goals. Social media marketing is no different in this regard. To measure ROI, you need to have a clear understanding of what campaign success would look like. Are you hoping for an increase in traffic, newsletter sign-ups, content downloads, or product purchases? Establish an average of your current stats for these goals before adding social media; this will give you a clearer picture of how social media impacts your goals.
When sharing your content on social media, the use of short links can make traffic easily measured. Before posting your content to your social media channels, shorten the URL with a service like Bitly to track clicks, referring channels, and even location demographics.
Creating UTM parameters for your campaigns “allows for analytics to interpret the origin and basic engagement information about the visitor.” UTM parameters are tags added to your URL that provide insight into your audience source, channel, keyword alignment, and content element creating engagement in your campaign. Incorporating these elements into your social channel content design supports clearer ROI measurement.
Analytics User Flow
In addition to referencing specified UTM engagement, your analytics user flow/path can support clear insight into conversion success. Creating a download/sign-up/purchase confirmation page enables you to drill down your analytics for conversion source. Follow your audience from acquisition source (social media channels vs. other sources) through product pages, to the shopping cart, check out, and confirmation page. Ensure your confirmation page is not indexed to avoid search traffic. So, while social media is not free, there is immense value in a social content strategy, and reporting social ROI can be relatively simple with the right insight and tools.