You may find it easy to measure PPC and SEO results, but measuring social media impact is more complex. Clients may be reluctant to invest in social media campaigns, however, until they see the “hard numbers.” How can you measure social media impact in a way that your clients will understand?
One impact of social media is straightforward and easy to explain: your competitors are using it. Even if you never quantify the results of social media use, knowing that competitors are using it should be enough to engage most businesses.
The hype cycle shows the process that is seen when social media or any other technology is first “discovered” by a user. Most business owners have initial inflated expectations followed by a “trough of disillusionment.” This is followed by enlightenment as to reasonable expectations from the technology and, finally, a plateau of productivity.
PR used to be about crafting your message and placing it properly. To a certain extent, this is still true. Marketers send messages through social media to a receptive audience. What has changed is that the audience can immediately decide what to do with the message, and this can take control of the message out of the “owner’s” hands. However, building strong social media relationships can give business owners a measure of control over how their messages are perceived.
Can We Really Measure PR & Social Media Performance?
It is very difficult to measure the value of a relationship. It is also difficult to identify a direct, causal relationship between your social media use and the willingness of someone to buy your product.
However, if you discard the idea that you are going to get cut-and-dried numbers from social media use, you can craft a reasonable measurement of the impact social media has on your business.
While there is no industry standard for measuring social media value, tying measurement to company goals must always be your own standard. Look at your objectives and see if you have met them better since introducing social media. From there, you can derive whatever formulas you like for measuring on a per-post or per-like basis.
You may also want to measure your impact on significant demographic groups. Of the people who became followers or friends in the past month, how many were 20-to-30-year-old females? This can help you determine if your social media use is reaching the groups you want to target.
Finally, review the overall cost of social media use. Most of it is very low-cost if you are willing to put some sweat equity into it, but paid advertisements do represent part of your overall advertising budget.
Set a benchmark so you know if anything has changed over the past month, three months, year or whatever time period you choose. Social media is dynamic, so a shorter time period is usually a better indicator of your actual performance. Measure your return on investment for that time period and see if your investment in social media has caused changes to your bottom line.