Measuring the ROI on Social Media Initiatives

Analyzing The DataI met with a group of CEOs this morning and social media came up in conversation. More than several members of the group wondered if a social media strategy is worth the effort. In other words, how do we measure the return on investment (ROI) of our social media initiatives?

This is a topic that comes up a lot at Matrix Group. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula for calculating ROI on social media activities. Mashable says that you can measure the ROI in two ways:

  • Qualitative – Are you part of the conversation in your industry? Are you able to demonstrate that you or your organization is a thought leader? Is social media able to help you build better relationships  with your target audiences?
  • Quantitative – Look to your usage reports, RSS subscriptions, e-mail opt-ins, e-commerce sales and registrations to see if social media is increasing traffic and transactions.

At Matrix Group, our social media initiatives include: a blogging strategy (this blog and participating in other blogs like WomenGrowBusiness), Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.  Here are the metrics we use to track ROI:

Qualitative Metrics

  • Are prospects, clients and candidates mentioning our social media activities?
  • Are our clients and prospects interacting with us on the different platforms?
  • Are we getting mentioned?
  • Do clients and prospects see us as a leader in our field?
  • Do clients and prospects reference articles and posts from our Web sites?
  • Are we getting recognized in industry and trade publications?

In this area, I’m honored that I made the Washingtonian’s list of Top 100 Techies and SmartCEO’s list of top 50 CEOs in the DC area.  In addition, we’re getting lots of mentions and clients are referring to our social media pages on a regular basis.

Quantitative Metrics:

  • Number of followers on Twitter, fans on Facebook, subscribers to our RSS feeds, and opt-ins to our e-mail lists.  This metric is important because these numbers represent the people who are willingly allowing us to communicate with them.
  • Increase in traffic to our Web site and this blog. We’ve seen a steady increase in traffic to our sites as we beef and promote our content.  Interestingly enough, traffic to this blog recently outpaced traffic to the Web site, largely because of referrals from Google and social media sites, esp. Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon.  We use Google Analytics, Webtrends and FeedBurner for these statistics.
  • Number of interactions, including comments on the blog, retweets and direct messages, and comments in Facebook.  Over the past year, we’ve seen a steady increase in these interactions as we gain followers.

Ultimately, where the rubber meets the road is whether or not we are getting leads and converting prospects to clients. Over the past year, here is what we have seen:

  • We are getting 2-3 high quality leads per week from our Web site where we were getting 2-3 leads per month in the past.
  • Traffic on our Web site and blog has tripled in the past 12 months.
  • Twitter and Facebook are two of the top five referrers of traffic to our site.
  • At least three clients in the past three months told us that they believe Matrix Group to be a thought leader in the interactive space for associations and non-profits.
  • We closed our last fiscal year up 10% over last year.

No matter how you track it, we’re getting a positive return on our social media and that’s worth blogging about.  How about you?  Are you tracking the ROI of your social media activities?  What’s been your experience?

2 thoughts on “Measuring the ROI on Social Media Initiatives

  1. Being a thought-leader in your industry is a remarkably powerful tool that has a very intangible value. It is similar to brand strength, which is immeasurable and invaluable at the same time.

    This has a far-reaching impact that extends into an area not mentioned by Mashable or your post: employee retention and recruitment. Openly communicating through multiple channels/networks helps a company be transparent: it exposes the culture, activities and performance. In a world where relationships, personality and ethics ultimately prevail, a company with a history of genuine communication builds the respect and trust of its employees and partners (and of course, customers!).

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your own company’s social media strategy and how you measure Return on Investment from your social media marketing activities. While the Mashable definition of social media ROI is not the only one out there, it does provide a solid framework. I am wondering, since it has been almost nine months since you published, how your social media ROI as measured above is doing these days?

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