I often think that social media gets an unfair amount of flak when it comes to proving ROI from efforts on various social channels. Just because proving ROI from Adwords or display advertising tends to be a fairly straight forward affair, many people believe that because social media has dozens if not hundreds of measureable metrics, they should all somehow be put into a big formula with the ROI spat out at the end.
The truth, I believe, is that if you pay to advertise on social media platforms and have a business objective, whether it's sign-ups or subscribers or a purchase, ROI can be measured using the same metrics as you do for Adwords and other advertising platforms. If you're expecting to measure ROI because you uploaded a picture of a cute kitten and an inspirational quote, then you'll be searching for a long time.
However, there are plenty of other social media metrics that might not help you measure ROI but can certainly help you make business decisions - decisions that might ultimately help your bottom line. We've touched on it in the past with Return on Intelligence, but let's look at a couple of examples here.
Twitter Mentions and Timings
The first social media metric to help you make business decisions is the humble Twitter mention. One of the most important rules of social media is that once you have listened, you should actively engage your audience. Whether this is in the form of customer service as many airlines like American Airlines do, or simply being part of a community like Chipotle, knowing when and how many mentions come in can help businesses make decisions on optimizing staffing hours.
Dogfish Head, a craft brewery that makes some excellent beer, has an active presence on social media and fans love telling people how much they enjoy their beer.
And when do you think people like to tell others about how good Dogfish Head beer is? When they are drinking it, of course! And when is that? In the evening (unless you are having a cheeky one during your lunch break) as you drink that well deserved beer. The chart below shows how the mentions of Dogfish Head on Twitter vary by time of day over a 30 day period.
The mentions peak at 8 PM Eastern time, the exact time when most people are enjoying their beer at home or in a bar. The business decision on this social media metric is that Dogfish Head could capitalize on the increased buzz in the evening, and staff their Twitter account in the evening to actively engage the audience.
Engagement and Post Types
Choosing the right content type (photos, images, videos, links etc.) for your community is essential for getting the most value out of your content. By measuring your content type against the engagement it gets, you can optimize your content creation strategy. Your content is being more efficient and returning more value when it gets more people interacting with it.
The chart below shows how 7UP has seen more engagement on its links in the last 30 days than it has on its other content types. Video content has barely seen any engagement for 7UP and this would have to be something that 7UP investigates further to see if videos have seen fairly low engagement over the last few months. If so, it might not make sense for the beverage brand to pursue expensive video production for its Facebook community.
Of course, looking at content types is one thing, but more insight could be derived from knowing exactly what kind of content is working and what isn't. Unmetric is the only platform that uses human analysts to tag Facebook content and put it in to various buckets so you know if brand news or sector news or Happy Thanksgiving posts are working better than others.
You won't find the chart below on any other analytics platform but we've found that it's one of the most important social media metrics to keep an eye on because it tells you exactly how your content is working on a more granular level, helping you to shape and direct your social media strategy.
In this case, Intel saw exceptional engagement on its product updates in the last thirty days while brand news about Intel failed to captivate its audience. By focusing on the content that promotes engagement, Intel can optimize its content strategy, and reduce time and money spent on content that fails to excite its fans.
Do you need to know more essential social media metrics?
These are just three social media metrics that brands can use right now to make business decisions and from there build out a return on investment from social media. To learn about 29 other social media terms that all businesses need to know, download our free ebook.