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Social Media Marketing for Business

Lucy Hitz


June 9, 2016

5 Measurement Tips for Finding ROI on Social

June 9, 2016 | By | No Comments">No Comments


Social ROI. The holy grail. That special something. What every social marketer wants and so many SaaS solutions promise.

How many sales were driven by social?” That’s Social ROI, right? Sure, unless you can’t attribute every sale to a specific source, or there’s unknown overlap between your social and other marketing channel, or…the list goes on. It’s not so simple.

Defining social media’s ROI is a tricky task. It’s essential to prove that your efforts are working, but on social there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for determining ROI. Within this confusing climate, we have some tips for structuring your own definition of and metrics around social ROI.

1. Competitive ROI: By benchmarking your performance against your competitors on social, you can prove the value you are offering your organization.


It’s up to you to pick the metrics you want to focus on, depending on your larger business goals: audience size, engagement, reach, site visits? Dominance on social media is a fantastic measurement proxy for dominance over your major competitors.

2. Pain Alleviation as ROI: Are you alleviating a pain point for a different sector of your marketing org? For instance, if your social media presence is tasked with customer service, you should be able to prove your success and showcase your contribution to the marketing org more generally.


Do this is by showcasing your workload and efficiency. Let’s say the above report is your own. Take this to your manager and say, “I dealt with 555 customer service inquiries and addressed 117 complex cases with an average response time of 149 minutes.” If you can, attach these numbers to financial impact for your company as a whole. That’s where attribution comes in.

3) Brand Awareness ROI: Prove your ROI by analyzing your share of voice on an industry topic or hashtag.

For example, you might not have more engagements than your competitor, but more people are talking about your brand in conjunction with a relevant hashtag, i.e. “Simply Measured” + “#SocialAnalytics”.

This type of analysis is great for demonstrating your brand’s thought leadership in a community.

If your goals are focused around brand awareness, this is an excellent way to prove that what you’re doing is working. Be sure to add filters onto your keywords to add an extra-pro layer of analysis.

4) Attribution ROI: Identify social’s impact. Where are you winning, where are you missing, and what do you need to address? Once you can identify the impact that organic owned, earned, and dark social have on your web traffic, conversions, sales, and other business metrics, you’ll know where social should be working.

Social is not a closed-loop system. That’s why these questions have continued to plague us. In order to answer them, we need to be able to connect the value of social actions to real business goals:

  • Conversions
  • Business value
  • Revenue

They key to accomplishing this is attribution, which is the process of assigning credit for business outcomes to marketing channels and campaigns.

Nota Bene: At Simply Measured, we’re investing deeply in attribution solutions to help you answer these difficult questions. We want to bring greater sophistication to your social measurement so that you can prove more tangible success, drive meaningful improvement in the business, and garner more resources for your team.

Attribution is a complicated topic with a lot of different approaches, but developing an understanding of attribution modeling will give you the tools you need to start answering those questions and more tangibly prove and improve the value of your social programs. There are three major types of single-touch attribution models:

Last-Touch: This model applies all of the credit for a conversion to the source of traffic for the session on which the conversion happened. This is the most commonly used attribution model, but also one that is deeply flawed.

First-Touch: This model applies all of the credit for a conversion to the source traffic for the first visit a consumer ever has to the site.

Last Social-Touch: This model applies all of the credit for a conversion to the last social touchpoint a visitor had before converting.

There are also four major types of multi-touch attribution models:

Equal Weight or Linear: This model divides credit for a conversion evenly across every touchpoint a visitor has before converting.

Position-Based or Starter/Player/Closer: This model improves upon the Equal Weight or Linear model by giving a fixed amount of credit to the first touchpoint and the last touchpoint for a visitor, and dividing the remaining credit evenly among the other touchpoints.

Time Decay: This model recognizes that later touchpoints typically are lower in the funnel and are more likely to drive conversions. Thus, it divides credit across multiple touchpoints based on how recently they happened prior to the conversion.

Custom: This model is used by organizations who have deep insight into their customer journey. In this model, custom values are assigned to each touchpoint based on what the brand knows about the efficacy of different channels and journey stages. This model is only possible with a deep historical knowledge of how consumers convert across many channels.

Finally, we land at the algorithmic attribution model:

This type of attribution modeling eschews hard rules. Instead, it tries to use all of the available data that a brand has to dynamically determine how much credit each touchpoint should get.

In this model, there is no set weight for any touchpoint. The values for each touchpoint will change over time as the algorithm refines itself based on new data that comes in every day.

This is ultimately the most accurate method of attribution, but also the most difficult to institute. It requires a large corpus of data and (typically) an expensive tool that must be implemented. We don’t suggest using this model unless you have significant experience with data modeling and attribution.

5) Connective Tissue as ROI: Become the connective tissue for your marketing team. Social media can act as a signal for every part of your organization. From using organic engagement data to optimize ads on Facebook to using social feedback to enlighten product development, social data can become the signal used to inform decision-making throughout your organization.

Provide strategic insight from the mountain of data you sit on to your web team, email team, media buyer, demand generation team, content team, PR team, product team, and design team.

You know what your audience responds to and what they’re interested in. You know what your competitors are talking about. You know what content is working well. You know which copy gets the most clicks, and which image types work best. You are the best source of information that your team never uses, and you can add value in so many different ways.

Proving social ROI is tricky, but doable with social analytics and by mapping your activities to larger business goals. These five methods of proving ROI are sure to help you in tough conversations with your boss down the line. Good luck!

Lucy Hitz


Lucy Hitz is the Content Marketing Manager at Simply Measured, where she manages the blog, produces longform content, heads co-marketing initiatives, and hosts the Simply Social podcast. She loves yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry.