How to start Measuring Social Media ROI in 7 ½ easy steps

Social media isn't scary!

Gosh that title sounds boring, doesn’t it?

Well, here is a secret – measuring your social media return on investment is actually quite fun. And now that there are a number of simple tools that can provide real insight into your efforts, you needn’t hold back on investment!

If you’re running the strategy yourself, measuring it along the way will ensure you can see what worked and more importantly, what didn’t work – so your subsequent campaigns will be even better!

Allow me to demonstrate what I mean with a 7 ½ step plan that could change even the most anti-social media among us into social media enthusiasts.

You’ll not only learn how to get a strategy in place, but you’ll also know which tools to use to measure specific aspects of your strategy.

Step 1: Build your Strategy

Sounds simple enough, but is so often overlooked. Here’s a pro tip, a basic social media strategy should look a little something like this:

A basic social media strategy

Your strategy is the difference between a successful social media campaign and a badly executed one.

Note how I’ve emboldened the reporting module; this is where you’ll analyse your strategy. Always allow time for reporting on a regular basis.

Step 2: Set your Goals in Analytics

Social activities contribute to your completed conversions; maybe not in the way you think. A tweet may not convert a user straight away – in fact it probably won’t – but it certainly contributes to the overall marketing cycle as it draws customers’ attention to your products and services in a personal way.

If you have decided that email capture and brochure downloads are one of the main goals for your social media activity, alongside community building of course, then you can set this up easily within your Google Analytics account:

Go to your Analytics account: click Admin:



Choose the account you wish to set goals for:

Accounts list


Click your site URL three times until you see this screen and choose the Goals tab:

Google Analytic Goals Tab

You can set up four different types of Goals:

  • Destination Goal – for specific website location loads
  • Duration Goals – for a visit that lasts a specific time, or longer
  • Pages per Visit Goals – your website user looks at a specific number of pages before they leave the site
  • Event Goals  – a certain action is performed

Social network campaigns can fall into a number of these categories, so think carefully about what data you will find useful.

Step 3: Realise your Metrics

You can only find goals or other analytics data useful if you have a clear idea in your head about what you are looking for.

So, it’s time to start thinking about the metrics you want to measure and let me warn you, they will be different ones from your PPC or SEO activity. Why? Because you’re dealing with the raw feedback and interactions with customers that you have on a daily basis via social networks.

Take a look at this interaction with Sainsbury’s PR Twitter account:

Sainsbury's Customer Service

Scary stuff, right? But don’t let this sort of social tomfoolery distract you.







The main metrics to always track during social media activity are:

  • Reach Growth; this is the amount of people ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ your current campaign who see, hear about, interact with and share your brand‘s social posts
  • Influencer interaction; Influencers can be anyone from a celebrity to a client you have had your eye on for a while. An interaction can range from a re-tweet, a “Like”, a comment and a share. The more Influencers you reach, the more “socially” successful your campaign will be. A re-tweet from the Guardian is worth its weight in relevant follows – not to mention a profile boost
  • Visitor flow and pages they visit (use Google Analytics for this one) –  if a visitor comes to your site from a tweet, watching where they go to next on your site is always very interesting. It tells you what kind of content they’re looking for!
  • Organic link building requests – the holy grail of a cracking online presence. You promote a campaign so effectively on social media that sites and blogs ask to link to you
  • Social assisted conversions – a woolly subject at times especially if you’re not currently running a competition on any social channels which directs customers to a specific landing page; without Universal Analytics tracking, this can be hard, however setting micro Goals in Google Analytics will help you to see if your ’email capture’ or ‘brochure download’ social campaigns work

And, of course, if Stephen Fry follows you back. Then you know you’ve made it.

All of these metrics have value, some monetary, some acquisition-ary (that’s a word, right?)

Step 4: use the right tools for the job

Keep on tracking.

Google Analytics will only give you so much information, measuring social media ROI needs to a lot more visual, and a lot more holistic than your average statistics.

Here are some of my favourite, easy to use tools that won’t break the bank:

1.       Hootsuite Pro – while their analytics are currently lacking in the Google+ department, I expect this will change at some point to fill demand. Hootsuite is a great place to schedule your campaigns. You’re able to auto-tweet from RSS feeds if you’re really pushed for time and geographically keyword search to help you gain more customers. Hootsuite reports do cost more, but they are very pretty, very easy to create and my clients love them.

2.       SocialSafe – a social network back-up tool. It gives you a wealth of historical data to play with; now with added analytics. You can see my full SocialSafe review on State of Search if you like, but in a nutshell: SocialSafe is great for allowing you to start monitoring trends and, as it’s relatively new, it’s constantly improving.

3.       Bitly – Obviously! The data I like the most on Bitly is the ‘best times of day’ data. This report shows you what times your updates were engaged with the most. You can get this data from other sources, but I like this particular layout and so do my clients, and if they are happy, I’m happy.

4.       FollowerWonk – some bits of data are more useful than other bits of data. For example, I don’t care about the average percentage of followers lost against average percentage of followers gained, I just need to know the numbers of each for whatever time period I choose. However, I think it’s very useful to know what percentage of my followers are female, especially if one of my goals is to sell a product to a female-dominated audience, geddit?

Getting embroiled in the numbers is an SEO trait that some of us find hard to let go; 14 decimal points will not show you the extent of your social media success, opinion will.

There are hundreds of tools out there, but don’t ever feel like you need to invest in the most expensive one. After all, it’s not about how much data you can get; it’s about what you do with that data that counts.

But what about Social Influence tools?

There is a lot of debate on social influence tools and their usefulness, so my advice is this: take from them some surface value. Klout, for example, provides top three influence topics on competitors homepages. These are basically the topics assigned to a twitter handle that are most widely spoken about by the brand or their followers. Little snippets of data like this can form a different view on your targeted campaigns.

Step 5: Write your first report

Social media monitoring reports; wonderful little things. Honestly!

If we could rely on the reporting function of our social network analytics tools to produce a full annotated report with strategies and personal observations and ROI, we would have so much more time on our hands to browse Imgur and eat cheese puffs.

Sadly, I haven’t found one yet. So my cheese puff diet will have to wait.

Instead, I recommend condensing all that data into something a bit more user-friendly and digestible. Your first report should always over-service in terms of information and observations and act as a template for the next ones.

To help you out, here is a basic report structure which I have found to be very helpful for initial reports. It includes things like metric measurement and goal completion, as well as scope to be a bit creative and develop those ever-important strategies.

 basic social media report

Step 6: Review your Successes

In step 1, I spoke about the importance of strategy review. Well, don’t wait until the end of the six months to give yourself a big pat on the back if you deserve it. If you’re client-facing, your client deserves a nice big pat on the back too, so make sure you let them know.

Measuring your ROI based on the previous steps, will make tracking success that much easier. I told you it was worth it in the end.

Step 7: Improve and do it all again


Improving your strategy, reporting and campaign goals can range from adjusting something very specific to re-doing the entire thing.

Each campaign has value, and ROI can be measured to ensure that your client understands this.

To summarise, there are no real losers in social media.

Except for this person. But that’s a different story for a different day.

For more information on tracking and measuring your Social Media ROI, email me today at and I’ll kick start your social strategy!

Image source 1,2,