Simple Ways to Prove ROI on Social Media


Why do we care about ROI?

The hardest part of writing anything about calculating Return On Investment (ROI) in social media is coming up with an introduction. What do you say? Proving ROI on anything is complicated; there are very few activities, if any, that you can directly show a percentage. There are books devoted to proving ROI and other performance indicators.Pic 1-1

This is the very basic formula for ROI. I wish you could shake some magical piece of software and some numbers would fall out that could be plugged in a formula that would show how awesome I am doing. Unfortunately the magical software is under development and will not be completed any time soon. In the mean time we have to find other innovative way to measure the success or failure of our social media campaigns and what social media can be used for.

Traditional Media Equivalence

Radio, TV, and print have been around for a long time and most people feel comfortable when they hear that 10,000 people saw an ad or 6,000 people heard a radio spot. These numbers are really no different than reach or views on social media but due to their use over decades have made them commonplace.pic 2

The metrics on many platforms provide great detail about the audience thaviews your content.  Use that information to calculate what is the cost per impression using social media versus cost per impression (or 1000 or some number) using traditional media. A positive number indicates that social media provides better value at reaching your target audience than a traditional channel. A negative number would prove the opposite.

Value Per Prospect

Many businesses attempt to gather prospects or personal information so they can specifically target those people with ads, mail outs, and other promotional material. Over time a business will determine approximately how much each new prospect is worth based on response raters and average spending. The same can be done on social media on a platform by platform basis. I say platform by platform because every single platform will allow access to various information and limit in the ways you can communicate with your prospects.pic 3

The term prospect will also vary from platform. On Facebook a prospect would be a page fane, on Twitter it would be a follower. Keep in mind that this is a metric best used after you have some data already from different social media platforms. It would be difficult to predict a value of a follower before some data is gathered.

Sentiment and Branding

Social media is the greatest listening tool currently available. Just a few years ago companies had to rely on focus groups and questionnaires to ascertain what consumers thought of their product and brand. Active polling suffers from many issues such as bias in questions and that the answer you get is always biased depending on who is asking. By passively listening on social media a company can receive immediate feedback about the positives and negatives that surround their brand.

There is no specific formula since it is hard enough to define what a brand is. However you do get key indicators in the shift in keywords and sentiment about your brand from real time social media monitoring tools. Are the keywords reflecting what you want said about your brand? Is the right audience talking about it? Are there issues that you never knew about? Social media can be great at detecting issues and problems with products before any warning comes from a traditional channel. The ability to avert crisis before any escalation cannot be quantified but this ability can be almost priceless.

Things to ponder:

1. Are my formulas correct? Seriously, are they?

2. Are quantitative methods best at proving ROI?

3. Is ROI always the goal?


SEO, What It Is, How It Works

What is SEO?

Let me shock you right now, there are a lot of websites, blogs, and junk on the world wide web. Anybody can put whatever they want on the web but most of the stuff on the internet is not that great. So there has to be a system of organizing and relating everything on the web. This is what search engines like Google and Yahoo! do for us. They look at every page that they can access and decide what it is about, what it connects to, and then ranks them based on different criteria. The exact criteria and how important each one is differs from search engine to search engine, but there are many that are universal.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of refining a website or blog so that search engines rank it higher on their lists for specific keywords. For example if you sell widgets you would want to be the #1 results for “buy a widget” search term. There are many aspects of a website that can be optimized in order for a search engine to rate your website higher.


How SEO Helps.

Think about the last time you were on Google or any other search engine, how often did you go past the first page of results? Probably not very often, if ever. The first page of search results is a gold mine and the first five spots on the page are the gold.  The first page of search results on Google takes up 95% of all traffic for a specific search term. The third page of Google search results barely gets 1% of the traffic.

Given the great disparity of traffic received it can be easy to see how important it is to rank at least on the first page of Google for a search term. However just as we mentioned above there are a lot of people with a lot of websites out there that are trying to get to that prestigious first page. Some of the companies that you are competing may have far more resources than you to develop their websites, but don’t despair, you can still be on the first page.

How SEO Can Work For You

Unless you run a huge company SEO can be a bit tricky. The problem is that search engines take a lot of different factors into consideration. For example Google analyzes everything from HTML, CSS, content, images, videos, and links. The combination of technical and creative capabilities can be a bit much for one or even several people. There are however a number of things that anyone can do to improve their ranking without years of study.


  • Choose your keywords. Below is a list of several tools that will help with SEO. One of them is Google AdWords which allows you to look at how frequently certain search terms are used. It will also show other terms that are similar to one another. From there pick your keywords to include in your content. It is optimal that specific keywords are about 2-3% of your written content. Keep in mind that the more searches there are for a term the more competition there is for those keywords. Sometimes it is better to try for less popular keywords.
  • Learn to code or hire a web developer. Google and other engines will penalize websites that are poorly coded and have issues. Web developers may not be cheap but they are worth it in the long term.
  • Use longer keyword phrases. Two word phrases are incredibly competitive.
  • Bulletize, italicize, or bold your keywords.
  • When posting images or videos don’t give them names such as 12f1234.jpg. Instead use a descriptive tag so Google can understand what it is.
  • Share your website or blog on Google +.
  • Unless required, don’t use high resolution images that slow down load times.
  • Get other websites to link to your content. The easiest way to do this is to create great content.
  • Use Google Analytics or other analytical tool to find weak spots on your website. Improve on those points.
  • CREATE GREAT CONTENT. Really, this is probably the most important point.


Tools For SEO

There are a number of tools that you can use in the quest for SEO. There are many others out there but this is a basic list that will help you out.

Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a great free tool for analyzing traffic coming to your website and identifying any issues.

Google AdWords – One of the most popular tools to find keywords and keyword ideas. Google also provides great support and How To’s if any part of AdWords confusses you.

Google Webmaster – Google Webmaster tools will allow you to optimize your websites coding and links. It will point out what Google may be penalizing or what coding issues the website has so that you can correct them.

Open Site Explorer– A tool that will help you link opportunities through competitor back link research. Also a great way to snoop on your competition.

Bing Webmaster Tools – Like Google Webmaster tools but for Bing!

PageRank Status – This is a free browser extension that shows your the page rank of every website you visits. It doesn’t mean that one website is better than another, just means it is doing better.


Things To Think About

1. What are some other simple things that anyone can do for SEO?

2. Are there any other great tools for SEO?

3. What is more important great content or SEO?