Social media is an essential marketing channel, alongside the more conventional methods such as newspapers or broadcasting. Businesses realize the importance of establishing an online “home” on social networks. Examples of social media networks / resources include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The trouble with many firms is they don’t know where their customers come from, indeed some might just ask their clients how they heard of the company in question. When entering the social media space for the first time, most companies spend a lot of money on their new social media campaign. What happens if they don’t track how or when they get visitors via these social media outlets? The answer is simple: they have no way of knowing which campaign has worked the best!
Does any (or all) of your new business comes via social media? If so, how well are you tracking your campaigns? The following guide will help you track your ROI on the social media campaigns you run.
What are your business goals?
The first thing you need to do is think about why you run these social media campaigns. Are you aiming just to get more “Likes”, or more followers on your profile? Do you want people to visit your website? And, if you do, is your goal to have them buy products from you?
As you can imagine, businesses run social media campaigns for many different reasons. Of course, the ultimate goal is to generate more revenue but, the way that you do this via social media can differ. That’s why it is crucial you track which campaigns work the best.
Vanity metrics are one thing, but what if those new likes or followers don’t convert into paying customers? Your ROI could end up becoming a big fat zero! Before you start setting up social media campaigns, make sure you have well-defined goals.
What should you be tracking?
There are different metrics that you can analyse to measure your ROI. You might wish to measure things like:
- How many people you reach;
- How much traffic your site generates from social media visitors;
- The number of people that sign up for newsletters;
- The amount of visitors that convert into paying customers; and
- How much money your social media visitors make you.
Each business will have different goals in mind. When you start a new social media campaign, tie your metrics to the goals you wish to achieve.
What are the best ways to track social media campaigns?
The answer is simple: analytics. You will need to use a variety of tools to help you measure the success of each campaign. Some people assume they should just use one tool alone. In reality, that’s a bad idea!
The analytics tools that you use will depend on the campaigns you run, and also which metrics you wish to measure. For instance, let’s say that your goal is to have people visit a landing page on your website. Once that happens, you might want them to sign up for an automated newsletter.
You will need some way of identifying the source of visitors to the landing page. This usually involves adding some form of tracking ID to your URL. In technical terms, you would append a parameter to the destination page address. For example, we’ll say that your landing page URL is http://www.example.com/landing-page.html. You could use the “utm_source” parameter to help identify the source. When tracking Facebook visitors, the URL could become http://www.example.com/landing-page.html?utm_source=facebook.
There are other parameters you might choose to use as well, such as:
- utm_content – i.e. a standard post or photo; and
- utm_campaign – the name of your social media campaign.
You can use other URL parameters, but they only apply to non-social media campaigns. In case you wondered, “UTM” stands for Urchin Tracking Module. Those UTM parameters get used with Google Analytics. Other analytics tools, such as the ones built into most automated emailing solutions, also use them. Now that you’ve added those parameters, the next step is to use an analytics tool. As mentioned a moment ago, there is Google Analytics. This offers a comprehensive set of features to help you track social media campaigns.
Another popular way to measure your ROI is by using a CRM tool such as SalesForce. You can add SF tracking code parameters to your URLs just like with the UTM ones. Also, using something like digital marketing software companies like Marketo can help you automate your tracking.
Is your intention is to sell products to social media users? Such a solution can help you track those sales leads down to the campaigns you’ve set up – after all, the goal is to determine which social media campaigns work the best. That way, you can tweak them for even better results.
Should you use custom URLs too?
You might have noticed the URLs with the parameters appended to them are rather long! The scope for errors when typing in those URLs into your social media posts is high. One way to fix that problem is by using custom URLs. For instance, you can use bit.ly’s URL shortening service. There are two main benefits to this approach.
First, your social media users will only see a small, easy to digest URL. And, second, you have an extra layer of analytics to fall back on. Do you use something like Hootsuite to manage your posts? If so, you can use their built-in URL shortener too. The way these URL shortening services work is simple. When a user enters or clicks the shortened URL, they get redirected to the “real” one. It’s useful for social networks like Twitter where text space is at a premium!
Is there anything else I need to know?
By now, you will have a good idea on how to track the ROI of your social media campaigns. But, what else do you need to know?
There is only one major point to bear in mind: check for mistakes! Many people fail to check things like target URLs and newsletter templates. That often results in visitors going to the wrong pages, or receiving incorrect content.
Assuming you’ve checked everything, you are now good to go!
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