Did the movie The Social Network convince you that social media began with the creation of Facebook? If so, you’ll be surprised to know that it actually started long before that.
First came BBS’s, or Bulletin Board Systems, for posting messages and downloading programs. By the late 1980s, Compuserve offered emails and discussion forums. Next came AOL and its member profiles, followed by Yahoo. In the new millennium, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter popped up, and social media was here to stay, with Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr and all jumping in soon after.
Social media is now a powerful marketing tool, one that also generates leads for agents.
Social Media ROI
To determine a goal ROI, you need to understand what you want to achieve. In other words, what are the most desired actions from site visitors? For most agents, leads are the ultimate goal, so the following visitor actions are highly valued:
Completed “for more information” contact forms
Registration and download of an information packet
Using on-line quote options
Recognizing these goals, which generate leads that (hopefully) lead to sales, gives you a quantifiable way of measuring success. According to Angie Schottmuller of SearchEngineWatch.com, identifying your business objective dictates the proper metrics for measuring success of a campaign. For revenue growth, Schottmuller recommends an emphasis on leads, converting leads and customer retention.
However, the trick is getting people to the site to take these actions.
Social media platforms are excellent marketing tools that reach many people. Niche social media outlets appeal to specific groups, but the big guns are: Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, MySpace (yes, it's still around), LinkedIn
Because different platforms lend themselves better to certain types of messages and marketing, an important part of any successful social media campaign is determining which platform best matches your services, products and goals.
Social Media ROI Metrics: What to Look At
Reach: Think of this in terms of how many people a social media campaign reaches. A campaign that performs well increases its reach over time. Look for more “likes,” “follows,” retweets, etc. Tools exist for measuring reach on specific platforms, for example, TweetReach, whose motto is: “How far did your tweets travel?”
Traffic: Note the number of visitors on the site that came through referrals from social media pages. Over time, traffic also needs to steadily increase.
Leads:These are part of traffic numbers, specifically the number of those site visitors who actually become sales leads.
Customers: Count the number of leads that actually convert into sales.
Conversion rates: This is doing the math: If your social media generates traffic, how many of the visitors turn into customers?
Tracking Sales or Site Conversions
Once platforms are chosen, and a clear goal is set, tracking conversion comes into play. There are numerous ways to do this, from custom-coded tracking to free analytic tools. Web analytics show the origins of traffic, how it came to the site and the results of the visit.
Google Analytics tracks various traffic sources, including search results, emails and social media referrals, at no cost. However, there are a number of other free options for tracking. The most important issue with tracking analytics is taking time to understand what the data truly reveals. Pay specific attention to:
How many visitors came, and how many times they came back again.
How many times each visitor arrived at the site.
The number that arrived and left without looking at other site content.
Patterns in the origin of the traffic, and where it went from your site, specifically whether or not they came via a social media site.
Outcomes of visits, in terms of registrations, requests for quotes, etc.
These things indicate whether you reached your target audience and conveyed your message to them.
Comparing Social Media to Other Advertising
Lead generation gained through other channels can be incorporated into most social media analytics tools.
- Use “campaign codes” for off-line channels.
- Use tracking software for phone calls that can be entered into the web analytics tool.
- Use tools such as Google’s UTM campaign tracking tool for monitoring traffic emanating from email links.
Incorporating everything into one program allows you to see and compare all advertising and marketing channels at once.
ROI: Leads, Conversion Rates and the Simple Cost of Each Lead
Another vital bit of data is what your costs are. Most analytic tools permit importation of this information, which should at least include ad costs. This ROI information is what enables you to alter under-performing ventures, augment great ones and generally reevaluate the direction of your campaign.
Authority and Social Influence
How persuasive is your social media campaign? Does it move people to take action? Authority is all about influence, specifically the influence followers wield. The concept is a bit amorphous, so these tracking tools can come in handy:
followerwonk, which promises “engagement and influence, demystified.”
Klout gauges your campaign’s influence based on how it causes actions.
TwentyFeet aggregates metrics from numerous locations.
PeerIndex measures how many share certain content, and how quickly they do it.
Measuring social media effectiveness is just another type of number puzzle. The results are not clear until you put all the pieces together.