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?


A Quick Guide to Social Media Analytics

Social Media Analytics and Proving That Social Works

Cheesy Image? Yes. Good example? Kind of.

There is a lot of buzz out there about social media analytics, big data, and providing ROI from social media. With all this hype it is easy to get carried away in fancy buzzwords, certifications, and expensive software. Most people treat social media like some incredibly unique beast that requires some yet unknown methods to be tamed. Surprisingly this is not true. In reality social media is an extension of the same people that you would see on the street. The same people retain the same interests, purchasing habits, fears, and likes online just as in real life.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the available data from social media because there really is a lot of it. Facebook Page Insights will produce over a thousand different metrics for a single business page. However most of this data is not required or applicable. As long as you structure your goals, analytics, and key indicators, social media analytics is a breeze. There is doctrinal way to structure your analytics but the below method is the one that has worked for me time and time again.

Identify goal

This sounds like a given but you will be surprised how many times people and businesses dive into social media with no clear goal. Just like an advertising campaign or the business itself you have to set yourself a goal. You should really try to narrow down what you want to do on social media to one goal, although I have seen two or three at a time. If you choose more than one purpose for your social media campaign try to keep them relevant to one another. Your goals can vary but some examples are:

–          Raise brand awareness by reaching a targeted audience

–          Increase the effect of your traditional marketing campaign

–          Sell more widgets (or whatever you are selling)

–          Grow a particular target audience

–          Retain existing customer

There are also some bad social media goals:

–          Be on social media (a common and terrible goal)

–          Get more views, likes, shares (unless you are in a very specific business this is not a goal)

–          Raise brand awareness through shotgun blast to any audience

Create a Baseline

Before you start anything you have to gather baseline information on what is happening now. If you don’t have a social media presence then you should see if anyone is talking about you. You can do this utilizing a variety of paid and free tools, but more about that in a bit. Create a document that shows:

–          Online mentions

–          Sentiment on the mentions

–          Online conversions and sales

–          Conversation about your competitors

–          What audience you are targeting and their presence on social media

–          The social media platforms that your audience is on

–          What websites, blogs, and platforms you would expect to mentioned on and why

–          Anything else that you may find pertinent to your business

Identify Metrics


Basic Social Media Metrics

Based on your goal identify what success would look like. Is it an increase in sales? More people reading your blog? Increased foot traffic in your store? Brain storm the possible metrics that need to be tracked to prove success of your social media campaign and how they can be related. The metrics will change or be amalgamated in the future since there is no way to predict everything ahead of time. You do need something to track as you begin to post online and these initial metrics will provide a starting point. Incorporate your baseline metrics here to see the change from the zero.

Choose tool, not hundreds of tool

There are literally hundreds and probably thousands of different consumer response, analytics, and media management tools. Each includes various set of capabilities and various prices. Many people just want to use every possible available tool and combine all their metrics into the worlds largest and most colorful PowerPoint presentation. This however is not a good idea. Each tool utilizes different techniques for collecting data which will not mach with other tools. Additionally the same metrics may be defined differently by each tool. This will lead to overall confusion. Pick tools that can monitor your already identified metrics and ask the tool provider to give you a demo first. I suggest utilizing one social media management tool like HootSuite to manage all your channels and one metric tool such as Sysmos or Radian6 for analytics. What you use is up to you and the size of your business. If Sysmos and Radian6 are to cost prohibitive then there are other cheaper solutions.

Understand What You Are Looking At

The tools and certain social media metrics may not make sense at first. The difference between weekly and monthly visitors, total reach vs post reach, or some of the other thousand metrics out there are important to understand. If you don’t understand them, don’t despair. There are plenty of resources online available that will explain every facet of social media of metrics. Also make sure that the pay tools you are using provide support and training for their tools, there are often features that you would have never found yourself. If all else fails feel free to shoot me a message and I will try to help as I can.


Questions to consider

1.  Are there any other imperative steps to the analysis process?

2. Why does social media have a bad track record of proving effectiveness?

3. What metrics do you find the most important?

The quick explanation of how to be viral

How do things go viral? It is hard to say, the internet is big (like really big) and there is are a lot of people competing for the little bit of time and attention that we all have. Almost everyone that has any presence online dreams that some of their content will go “viral”. Although this is not a bad dream some reality needs to be injected into it. Considering that we already discussed that the internet is a big place it is difficult in the least to make anything go viral, let alone be shared a couple of times.

There is no magic solution or formula for viral content. Even the meaning of viral will depend on what it is that you do online. Many people jump to the idea of virality meaning that millions of people share and watch your YouTube clip or share your article. This however is not applicable to every business or venture, you have to be realistic about the size of your audience and what it is that you are presenting. Think of virality in the terms of the people you want to reach. If you are a small business owner that paves driveways then the audience you may want to reach may be only in the few thousands.

There are overall trends that make some content more or less prone to become viral. We all know that an average piece of writing or content is not going to go viral. Sometimes things go viral because of how terrible they are but that is rarely the type of fame that people want. Keep in mind a few general rules when creating your content and something of yours just might go viral.

Know Your Audience

As mentioned above, virality is dependent on what you do. If you pave driveways in a smaller city, virality might look different than a viral campaign for Coca-Cola. Look at the number of people who may be looking for a service like yours within the city and around it. If there are 10,000 possible customers and you reach 20% of them instead of the usual 5% then high-fives are due all around. Consider your content viral, you reached 4X more audience than usual and gained more exposure. Keep it up! If you only reached the regular 5% again, don’t despair, you reached 5% and that’s not bad.

Think about the most basic questions when creating your material. Do they know about you? Do they know about your competitors? Are you trying to contact them? Are your campaigns targeted or general? What is it that is most important to your customer? These may sound like simple questions but they are the foundation of any good piece of popular material. Think about your audience and what they want. Don’t create what you think is great, it is not about you. Think about what your customer would like to see.

Be Different

old-spice-commercial-adBe different. Try something other than what is the norm, stand out from your competition. After all if you do the same thing as everyone else you can’t expect to stand out. There is no secret to being different, if you look at your product or campaign and go “I have seen that” then it is not new. Don’t get me wrong, being innovative is incredibly difficult. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every piece of content, but throw out something whacky and different sometimes, it just may take off.

Be Emotional

Unless you are in a field such as saving baby seals or nature photography it is often hard to evoke emotion. Going back to the concrete laying business example, it may be hard to evoke emotion about a well paved driveway that won’t crack. Very few people get excited about everyday things but that is a large part of creating content. According to some research such emotions as awe, anger, anxiety, fear, joy and surprise are key factors to creating viral content. One of the most appealing and common aspect of viral content is humor. To inject emotion into your content jump back to the Be Different aspect and try something different. The Dollar Shave Club was a successful viral campaign that made a mundane activity such as shaving humorous and joyful. Take example from others success and see if any elements can be infused into your content.

Keep It to the Point and Make It Long

Is this point a Catch-22? Not really. As mentioned most people today have a short attention span. We are bombarded with information from every possible angle and absorbing all of it is difficult. If you are creating a video or a visual piece of content, keep it to the point. If a person does not have a lot of time allow them to skim whatever it is that you created for the nuggets of information and let them move on. They can always come back later and admire your work in its full glory.

Make your written content longer. Long, in depth posts are usually more apt to go viral than short and to the point. If your content is not based on visuals you can expand and go in depth. After all somebody committed to reading it, they might as well get as much as they can from it. Just remember to highlight the most important points or at least make them easy to notice.


That’s right, fail. I fail, you fail, we all fail at some point. The fact is that the so called “virality guru’s” fail all the time. If making something viral does not work the 1st,2nd,34th time, don’t despair, just keep at it. Over time and with experience you and I will get there, and the reward will your own piece of internet history in the form of a nifty viral campaign.


How can anything go viral if you don’t share? Seriously, throw some Share, Like, Tweet, and other social media buttons on to your content. Otherwise how are people supposed to share with the world the greatness that you created?


Questions to Consider

  1. Are there are important aspects to viral content?
  2. Is viral content really that important or is consistent good content better?
  3. Is virality really that valuable, does it bring in more business?

LinkedIn: The World’s Biggest Rolodex

Let us be honest, a lot of the time when looking for a new job it isn’t what you know, it is who you know. After a few recent conversation with friends who struggled to find jobs for months only to be set up by a long forgotten acquaintance or friend in the end. One of the main reasons to network is to ask someone for job recommendations at some point. The infamous desk Rolodex at one point served as a monument to how many people someone knew and who they could reach out to.

The Rolodex is so last decade, welcome to the age of social media. Taking place of the round ball of paper on your desk is the now infamous LinkedIn. The social networking site is taking job hunting, recruiting, and self-promotion to a whole new level. LinkedIn is basically your resume, education, interests, hobbies, and achievements all wrapped up and packaged for your friends and recruiters to see. LinkedIn houses your resume for anyone to see (if you let them) 24/7.

The issue that plagues social media hits LinkedIn just as much. The issue is the wrong information. Too many recruiters today can Google a potential employees name only to find alcohol, drug, and profanity laced posts and images. While before an employee may have looked great on his resume, social media has allowed recruiters to see another part of every person. The issue on LinkedIn is slightly different and it is too little information.

Everybody who has a LinkedIn account browses around other profiles to check out what they have posted and why. Too often you and I go to a profile only to be met with a few lines of nondescript text with the world’s most boring headline. To be honest that was me at some point, and I am still slowly working on improving my profile. I realized that in the age of social media not representing myself properly online would be like sending in a resume written on a Post-It note, a pink one.

Want to avoid the mistakes I and many others made on LinkedIn? Follow these few steps and you will be well on your way to looking the hirable and motivated hero that you are.

1. The Headline

If I could scream through the computer screen I would scream headline. This has to be catchy and descriptive since this is the first piece of text that anyone sees on your profile.


2. The Summary

Right after being done screaming about the headline I would yell a bit about the summary. You include a summary on your resume, why omit it on LinkedIn?

3. Include all experiences

On LinkedIn you can include almost everything you have done in your life. You shouldn’t include everything but you can add much more than usual. Did you take some relevant classes in college, have a applicable hobby, wrote a paper or an article? Include everything that a recruiter or someone else may find interesting.

4. Add Skills

LinkedIn has the ability for you to add up to 50 skills that you believe describe your capabilities the best and then others can endorse you for those that they believe are the best for you.



5. Proof Read

Proof read everything you wrote and then proof read it again. Nothing looks worse than a resume, online or not, that is full or grammatical errors and improper language.

6. Have a picture

LinkedIn gives you the advantage of adding a picture. A profile with a picture is much more likely to be viewed than one without. Keep in mind that this is a professional picture of you, not your dog, cat, spouse, or dream vacation spot. Be an egotist and just put up your most recent, best looking picture.

7. Add Contact Info

What is the point of a resume if no one can contact you? Add your social media accounts, website, and any other way that you want people to follow or contact you.


Things to Think About

1. Is there another point that is crucial to your LinkedIn account?

2. Does LinkedIn really help that much in a job search?

3. What is the best way to network on LinkedIn?

The Beginners List to Using Twitter

There are a number (a large number, like really large number) of articles, infograhics, and lists online that tout tips the proper use of Twitter. So whose list is the right one? I don’t know, but the correct answer is somewhere in the middle. Personally I am a believer in analysis and statistical methods so if we look at a number of the lists and combine the most commonly mentioned points then we should have the list of all lists. Below is a compiled list of some of the common pointers about Twitter slightly altered from personal experience.

1. Define Who You Are

Don’t be on Twitter just because your competitors are on Twitter. Think about what you do, what it is what you want to do, and how Twitter can help you accomplish your goals. Think of how you want to come across as a brand, whether it is humorous or serious.

2. Define Your Purpose and Goals

Many different companies use Twitter for different reasons from customer support to sales. All the successful companies however know the purpose behind their Twitter handle. Your business has goals also and Twitter can help accomplish them. Figure out what how Twitter will help you achieve them.

3. Identify Who Will Tweet

One of the main problems that a number companies suffer from is inconsistent voice and tweets. You may have one person in charge of your social media ortwitter-cartoon-2 an entire team. Whatever the case may be decide on the rules of interaction and how they will do it. Focus on what your social media team should do instead of what they shouldn’t do. Social media and Twitter is a flexible medium, don’t restrict it by placing to many rules.

4. Research the Communities and Your Target Audience

Twitter is one of the most open social media platforms available. Only about 5% of Twitter accounts have some privacy restrictions. Use the Twitter search bar, available Twitter research tools, or look to other brands to online to identify your target audience and the communities within which their reside. There is no need to guess what you should say or how you should engage, you can research it beforehand.

5. Create Great Content

This is probably the most repeated point when it comes to social media. With the entry barrier to social media so low it is becoming harder and harder to attract customers. What people look for online is original, creative content. Much like the old axiom “Build it and they will come”.

6. Respond, Interact, and Follow

This is social media, the word social says it all. Be social and respond, interact, and follow with your consumers on Twitter. You should respond to everyone who engages you on Twitter.

7. 80/20 Rule (Called the Pareto Principle)

This is the second most repeated point when it comes to social media. 80% of your posts/content should be for your followers while only 20% of your posts should be self-advertising.


1. What should be added to this list? What should be removed?

2. How closely should you follow the 80/20 rule?

3. What is the best way to research your audience?