How To Calculate The Exact Return From Your Social Media Initiative


"Create a LinkedIn group for your company! Grow brand awareness on Facebook! Engage your online community!"

There are numerous posts and articles drifting through the blogosphere, encouraging companies to create social media schemes. The reasons are obvious: social media can help grow your reputation, increase your profile, or market and sell your brand or your products. But how are these schemes being followed up and measured?


Measuring Success

An online community with thousands of followers is great. If the members are engaging in meaningful discussion, that’s even better. But unless your organisation is analysing the usefulness of these initiatives in order to make better decisions and calculate your return on investment (ROI) in social media, then much of this useful information is being wasted.


Google Analytics Social Reporting

With Google Analytics Social Reporting, it is finally easy to find out the ROI and impact on your business’s bottom line. Google Analytics goes beyond the social reporting offered by the social media platforms themselves. It places your website in the epicentre and lets you know how social media is impacting it and your brand. You can now find out your visitor flow, network referrals and data for pages and plugins through Google’s social analytics reports, as well as find out how your social community is interacting with your content.


Discovering the Financial Value of Social Media

By assigning a financial value to each Goal as a Conversion, Google Analytics reporting can tell you exactly which type of visitor, social media community or content brings you conversions. This process used to be vague, based largely on guesswork. Now, companies are easily able to shape their social media marketing strategies according to this valuable performance data. So what exact steps need to be taken to gain all this knowledge from Google Analytics Social Reports?


1. Goals
Start by setting Goals. Marketing initiatives usually have set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), so why not social media? Are you measuring your performance in terms of sales, email subscriptions to your newsletter, tweets, shares or the time visitors spend reading your content? This way the reporting is specific to the business or brand goals, and helps to figure out whether a social media strategy is in fact helping the organisation to reach those.

Once you decide on your KPIs, you can set them as Goals in your Google Analytics Social Reporting. You’ll then be able to read reports on how well you are doing on these aims. A Goal can be identified by URL, the length of a visit, page or event, as well as assigned a value.


2. Data
Collecting data is useful only if it is put to good use. Google Analytics uses website data to show which social media brings the most traffic to a site, the quality of that traffic, and the conversion rates. Marketers are able to pick out the networks that perform best for the company or the brand, and help to develop strategies for other social networks in line with their Goals.

Visitor Flow Reporting shows how users from social networks move around on your website, how many other pages they visited and at which point they left. This will help when you are tweaking your site to grow your conversion rate.


3. Content Marketing
Google Analytics’ Content Reports help you compare social networks and see which ones bring the highest quality traffic and exactly what content assists conversion. This information helps you grow your community and increases organic sharing.

The Pages Report picks out any viral content (content shared on the website and on external sites). The Social Value Graph helps you see how you are doing with your Goals and whether you are winning conversions through referrals. The Social Plug-ins Report shows which posts on your site were shared, how many social buttons were clicked and how often, and on which platforms they were shared.


4. Relationships
What is your impact on your audience? This has traditionally been difficult to measure. Since Google Analytics draws a difference between an immediate conversion and ones from returning customers, this is now easier to evaluate. This data is useful to determine whether a bigger and longer-term investment in social media is needed, rather than simply using social networks to post information.

Last Interaction picks out referrals resulting in conversions. Assisted Social Conversions identify social referral visitors that result in a conversion not on their first, but during a later visit.


5. Knowledge of your Audience
It’s easy to know who our converted customers are, but harder to pinpoint those who are simply reading or interacting with your content.

The Social Sources Report shares ordinary data like duration of visit, pages views, etc. Analytics reports also show referrals from networks and which content URL brought them to your site. Hub Partner Networks by Google additionally reveal conversations about your content, although the networks included are limited to Google+, Google Groups, Delicious, Blogger, Reddit, Disqus, Digg and a few others.


By implementing the above steps and analysing your ongoing performance, you should be well on your way to creating a smart strategy when it comes to growing your business through social media.


Tuhin Ghosh

Guest Author: Entrepreneur and enabler, Tuhin Ghosh has been pursuing his dream of enabling business and catalysing growth mainly in the education industry. He is the Co-Founder of Prepgenie, a test prep provider that offers exam preparation courses for GAMSAT, PCAT, HPAT, UMAT and UKCAT to aspiring medical students globally.