Social media is no longer an up-and-coming way to connect with current customers and curate communications with future customers; it’s an established and crucial facet of Internet Marketing. The effects of social media are unknown to most business owners, partially due to the fact that it’s difficult to determine its true monetary value. Measuring social media followers in a fiscal capacity is tough to do, but thankfully, the nature of the beast is that the bottom line isn’t always the bottom line. What does that mean? Let’s find out.

As I mentioned, the ROI of social media is rarely a finite, tangible item, but these efforts can help influence sales indirectly. Marketers who attempt to measure social media success via quantified “likes” and “tweets” will certainly find that they aren’t easy to monetize. But what other promotional method can drive a sizable amount of visitors to your site for little to no cost (other than time spent on the campaign itself)? Consider consumer motivation; are they searching for a good deal? Do they desire a forum to discuss a related topic? The ability to match online customer profiles with offline purchases is complex, but brand visibility, consciousness, engagement and word-of-mouth can circuitously affect a business’ bottom line.

Traditional ROI metrics often highlight short-term social media campaigns that lend themselves to short-term benefits. This isn’t too surprising given the dynamic nature of the Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Flickr/YouTube web-scape. Customers feel fulfilled if they are able to create, consume, connect and control their interactions with both content and people. Social media marketers should be crafting initiatives that work for the customer, rather than the other way around. In this way, customers will work for the brand by redirecting their purchase decisions and creating their own advertising through word-of-mouth communications. If today’s tweet doesn’t drive any conversions, that’s okay; instead, a follower may see your post and become more familiar with your brand, leading them to consider you later on when faced with a choice between you and a competitor.

Though the metrics of social media are not always the best indicators of success, there are some ways to keep your finger on the pulse of your social presence. If you are using PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising, try to assess the campaign’s effectiveness via cost-per-click and cost-per-impression. However, if lead generation is your bread and butter, you should measure in terms of cost-per-acquisition. Brand familiarity, brand engagement, and the creation of soft leads – in which a potential customer might exchange their email address for a coupon or something else of value – are significant, even if they don’t directly line your pockets. For more tools to measure social media ROI, check out Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and this selection of free social media analytics by Simply Measured. Tools like these are handy at measuring your performance within the social media web-sphere.

Yes, social media ROI can and should be measured, but it should not be taken as doctrine. Does a successful campaign or sale necessarily mean success in the future? Does a failed one necessarily mean there won’t be a great triumph waiting just around the corner? Just like hosting a picnic on a cloudy day, there’s a chance the clouds will recede and the sun will shine or a possibility the clouds will become engorged and grey and it will rain. Use social media, not as an inventory of your customers, but rather as a tool to test the waters, take the temperature, feel the pulse and experiment in order to get that awareness, engagement and word-of-mouth that will benefit your business in both the short- and long-term.

Active Web Group is the ultimate ally: here to assist businesses in understanding the robust value of a well-thought out Social Media Marketing campaign. Call us at 1-800-978-3417 or contact Active Web Group and allow us to create effective strategies that will flex your strongest assets and spread the word like wildfire.