Social Media Metrics Flourish, but ROI Is Still Up for Grabs

Social media week has drawn a lot of attention to both the strengths and weaknesses of social media as a marketing tool -- and it’s clear that measurement continues to be one of the main areas of weakness. Sometimes it seems like marketers are no closer to defining what constitutes social media return on investment, let alone how it should be measured. But it’s not for lack of suggestions, as highlighted by the proliferation of social media measurement services, guides, handbooks, and so on, including multiple announcements this week alone.

First up, cause marketing shop Fenton has released a guide to social media metrics titled “See Say Feel Do,” which is intended to help organizations “discover the most effective social media tactics and indicators for achieving their broader communications goals.” The wittily-written guide, authored by Fenton senior vice-president for digital John Gordon, observes that while “It is tempting to imagine social media as its own communications island where Twitter Follower counts are valuable currency that can be exchanged for internal high-fives,” this is essentially meaningless if it’s not related to a campaign’s broader goals. And the guide offers some good advice beyond simple social media metrics, including for example the need to acknowledge the complete media consumption behavior of target audiences, as “People consume information without regard to medium and share content and action without consideration of platform.” The guide is available for free download at Gordon will be hosting a Twitter chat to discuss the guide and answer questions on March 6 at 2 PM.

Also this week, Group FMG today announced the launch of a social media benchmarking service  which is intended to help companies qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate their online presence against competitor activity. This includes better understanding their competitors’ digital content and growth strategies on social media channels 00 which should, in turn, help them find new ways to enhance their own social media and customer engagement. The web application captures a variety of data from an advertiser’s Facebook and Twitter presence, including fan and follower growth, fan profiles and response times, while tracking key measures of what Group FMG refers to as the “SoLoMoCo” dynamic --  social media, local rich media content, mobile apps and commerce.

Finally, social commerce startup Moontoast announced an update to its Social Analytics Suite platform, which aims to bridge the gap between social media marketing and ROI. Tim Putnam, Moontoast’s vice-president of marketing and client services, stated: “As marketing managers, we’ve been trying for years to define returns in social, and the Social Analytics Suite makes it easy to see exactly which messages build relationships, which are the most relevant to fans and followers, and how they ultimately drive sales and results.” The SAS is centered on Moontoast’s proprietary “Return on Fan” model, which aims to measure the quantitative and qualitative impact that a fan has on a brand in the social Web. This includes tracking “engagement transactions,” both monetary and non-monetary; in the Moontoast model, social messages lead to impressions, which lead to interaction, which lead to transactions and, finally, long-term endorsements. Moontoast provides unique insight into fan relationships.

3 comments about "Social Media Metrics Flourish, but ROI Is Still Up for Grabs".
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  1. Guy Powell from ProRelevant Marketing Solutions, February 22, 2012 at 5:32 p.m.

    INteresting article. Major brands have been measuring the impact of social media on their brands (and then on revenue) for quite some time. It's a bit more difficult for smaller brands because they don't invest in the right data or otherwise. Check out if you would like to follow this discussion.


  2. Daniel Soschin from Speaker & Blogger, February 22, 2012 at 7:02 p.m.

    Erik - yes, social media ROI analysis is in its infancy. I believe this is a result not because we lack tools and metrics, but rather there is a disconnect between data analysts who lack understanding of social media, and social media managers, who lack an understanding of analytics. Thus, we are at a bit of an impasse. I presented at Social Media Week DC on this very topic (how to measure the ROI of social media) in an effort to help social media managers take charge of their efforts and lead the analysis front for their organizations. I archived the presentation on my blog here:

  3. Sean Grace from Strategic Franchising, February 24, 2012 at 1:35 p.m.

    Great article and comments too - I'll check out the links provided on ROI. Social Media ROI is definitely difficult to measure, but not impossible. I think we will see some great strides in this (or, at least better understanding of it) as social commerce really takes off.

    There are so many different kinds of interaction with social media as well. Many companies have a content strategy to inbound marketing, which is great. But, the work has to be put in to see where the leads are coming from and how many are converted.

    What my company offers businesses are tools that allow them to provide some monetary value through social media, require the message to be shared , and capture valuable data that allows for targeted re-marketing in the future. We've seen some great success so far, and I believe it's due, in no small part, to having specific data to back up our claims.

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