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The Foolproof Guide to Measuring Social Media

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Let’s talk about every social media marketer’s least favorite subject: Social media ROI.

It’s not that we can’t show off some hard numbers when someone asks us that dreaded question.

On the contrary, we’re pretty much drowning in data, resources and how-tos.

The best social media metrics, the worst social media metrics, how to determine social media ROI, why you can’t determine social media ROI: I’ve read all these posts and more. (Hell, I’ve even written some.) 99 percent of them were the opposite of helpful.

They’re noise.

They get us all in our heads, and then they get us to give up when we can’t find the perfect tool, or have one frustrating conversation with a client.

Why we are not measuring Social Media ROI

This pie chart is only kind of a joke.

There’s only one question that matters

All this back-and-forth only obfuscates the real question we all want and need to be able to answer: Is social media worth it?

That’s what we really want to know, right? Are we getting enough out of it to make all this worthwhile?

Now, the answer to this question may or may not follow the traditional formula for ROI, some nitpickers will undoubtedly point out.

This matters exactly zero. If you can prove that social media is worth it to your boss, to your client, to yourself – whatever that looks like – and keep doing it month after month, you’re golden.

You CAN measure it

And here’s the thing. Spending the past month waist-deep in social media metrics to write Raven’s new resource, 30 Social Media Metrics That Prove Real Value, has taught me one very important thing: You can measure anything if you want it bad enough.

Yes, it might be time consuming. Yes, there are a million different metrics you might want to measure. No, you probably won’t find a tool that lets you just push a button to produce a magic number. That’s good. Do it the hard way first and earn your metrics.

Earn your metrics and you’ll know how you got there – and where to go.

Earn your metrics and you can put them in the right context.

Earn your metrics and you can present them with total confidence.

The definitive guide to measuring social media

So here’s my foolproof formula for answering The One Big Question: Is social media worth it?

guide to measuring social media

Step 1. Reboot
Forget the social media ninjas, gurus, sherpas and experts. Forget what you’ve read. Ignore almost everything on the Internet (um, not this, of course). Don’t search or click on articles on topics like “social media ROI” or even “social media measurement.”

Step 2. Communicate
Talk to your boss or client about what social media can and should accomplish for your brand. Is social media the introduction, the deal-closer or something else altogether?

Really talk. Nothing is too big or too small to put on the table, and there are no “bad” metrics.

Maybe it’s customer service. Maybe it’s reputation management. Maybe it’s traffic to a website or a physical location. Maybe it’s sales. What element of social media, or combination of elements will answer The One Big Question?

Step 3. Measure
Figure out how to measure just those things. No more, no less. No second guessing.

It may take some research, a fair amount of trial and error, and maybe a refresher course on fractions and percentages – but it can be done.

We can help

Whatever you want to measure, chances are it’s covered in Raven’s guide, 30 Social Media Metrics That Prove Real Value. I researched it and wrote it right from the trenches of day-to-day social media marketing. Download it and let me know what you think.

30 Social Media Metrics That Prove Real Value


7 Responses to “The Foolproof Guide to Measuring Social Media”

  1. Great post Courtney! I really love the 30 Social Media Metrics That Prove Real Value that Raven put out as well.

    My go to metrics for reporting our social media efforts are:

    1. Traffic to site
    2. Revenue
    3. New email subscribers
    3. Fan Growth
    4. Avg Order Value

    • RavenCourtney

      Thanks, Chris! I’m so glad you liked it. Email subscribers is a GREAT metric that I totally forgot about. Guess I’ll get started on a sequel. 😉

      • Stephan Hovnanian

        Email subscribers are the only ones you’re going to own, whereas all your other audiences are reliant on other platforms, who have a tendency to change the game quite frequently. #ownyourlist.

  2. Love it, Courtney!! Just like you’ve written, when I’m meeting with our clients for the first time, I really drill them about what is MOST important to them. Is it selling widgets? Is it monitoring the brand? Is it becoming an industry expert? If you know what they want to accomplish from the beginning, then you know how to structure your efforts and then, ROI becomes a lot easier. Plus, it’s a lot easier to manage expectations if you can reign them in when they say things like “I want to be #1 in my area in 6 months”.