Measuring ROI on Social Continues to be a Major Challenge for Marketers

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Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Matt Raven, VP of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, writes frequently about issues facing marketers. He shared with us a recent post on the challenges of measuring ROI for social media marketing.
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Despite the rise in available data and overwhelming number of third-party tools, measuring the bottom-line impact of social media efforts continues to be a major challenge for communications professionals. But why?

Are most marketers struggling to build a concise measurement infrastructure that goes beyond what the native platforms will tell us? Or is it that we have an inflated sense of the outcomes social media can impact beyond lifting brand awareness and engaging with prospective customers? I believe the issue is multi-faceted and occurs due to breakdowns at both the front and back ends of our social media strategies.

Ask yourself “why?”

Effectively measuring social ROI starts with a crystal clear understanding of why you’re using it. Establishing goals and analyzing historical performance allows marketers to benchmark against go-forward performance and provide a clearer measurement infrastructure. Whether your goals are improving brand awareness in key markets, generating downloads of an ebook or driving bottom-line sales, it’s likely that the platforms’ native analytics platforms won’t be enough.

Leveraging Google Analytics provides increased granularity in a marketer’s ability to understand true social impact. As a first step, each strategic goal should be mapped to a corresponding GA goal to visualize impact beyond awareness-level metrics.

Cater to your customers’ unique needs

It’s important to remember that the customer journey is becoming more complex by the day. Content shock and platform overload have whittled attention spans down to mere seconds. As a result, marketers need to get more creative in their ability to visualize that process. Further, we must change our thinking on archaic attribution models that only assign value to final or original touchpoints.

While that Instagram story or LinkedIn post may not have been the asset that drove them to your website to convert, it’s likely that it was a critical first impression that made them remember your brand the next time they read about you. Challenge your team to take your analytics to the next level by building an attribution model that’s custom to your unique goals. This will allow you to better understand the exact role social plays in your business, regardless of when it occurred in the buyer’s journey.

Be realistic & think strategically

While social media is an incredibly powerful engagement tool, marketers have a tendency to have misaligned expectations with its capabilities. As algorithms evolve, the ability to penetrate audiences through solely organic strategies has become all but impossible. However, with paid supplementation and integrated campaign deployment, the right social strategy can achieve just about anything — allowing marketers to nurture leads from awareness through to final conversion.

Marketers also treat these channels as rinse and repeat far too often, leading to diluted value and lackluster ROI. I’ve found that too many in our profession overlook the great data that’s right in front of us to optimize strategy in real time. It’s as simple as looking and listening — what content is performing best against top-line goals? Is it all video that’s driving leads? Are certain copy overwhelmingly outperforming others? Review campaign performance daily and don’t be afraid to adjust budgets to go all-in on whatever is resonating most.

The takeaway

Measuring ROI of our social efforts will never be easy, but nothing worthwhile is. To paint a clearer picture, start by creating realistic and quantifiable goals for your strategy and map them to specific goals within Google Analytics. Supplement your organic strategy with paid efforts that can motivate prospects further down the funnel and measure those direct and assisted conversions with an attribution model that’s unique for you.