How to Measure the Return on Investment of Social Networking for You and Your Clients

Congratulations! You've jumped on the Social Media bandwagon and set up your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. Perhaps you've even created a Facebook fan page and scouted out some niche-oriented sites to post comments to, answer questions, and start discussions on.

But wait … do you find yourself wondering if your Social Media efforts and time are really paying off? How do you measure the Return on Investment of relationship-building and engagement? How can you be sure you're not sucking the time out of your most productive hours each day with little return?

If you are participating in Social Networks in a willy-nilly fashion — a tweet here, a blog post there — without much thought to what your true purpose is, you are just a ship without a rudder in the vast sea of Social Media. And, you won't be gaining the kind of attention which will drive business to you, or to a client you may be advising on how to effectively use Social Networks.

Establish Your Clear Defining Purpose So You Can Unmistakably Measure the Return on Your Social Media Time

To see results from your Social Media activities, it's vital that you have a "clear defining purpose" for being there in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the common motivating factors to getting involved with Social Media …

  • Build brand visibility
  • Lead generation and list building
  • Education and awareness
  • Increased credibility and authority (Thought Leadership)
  • Increased blog/website traffic and leads
  • Promote products and services
  • SEO and link building
  • Gather insights into your community of interest (surveys, polls, market research)

As a copywriter, your defining purpose might be to: "engage and add value to (your chosen niche) community in order to increase leads and work opportunities."

If you are consulting with a client on how to participate in Social Media, you must help them define their primary purpose before creating an effective action plan.

Let's say your client is a fitness center. Their defining purpose might be to: "provide education on the life-changing benefits of proper health and fitness activities for members and prospects as well as to increase leads for new memberships."

If your client is a natural beauty product retailer, their defining purpose might be to: "increase awareness of the lasting health benefits of using natural beauty products in order to increase the customer base for 'X' Brand."

Once you are clear on your defining purpose, it's time to set up specific and measurable goals, develop and execute a strategy, and then evaluate your Return on Investment. Social Media actually provides two types of ROI. There is the traditional Return on Investment, which looks at concrete dollars, customers, subscriptions, etc. And, there is also the Return on Influence. Both should be measured.

Return on Influence has more to do with brand authority/credibility and one's levels of influence, engagement, and popularity in Social Media channels. Positive outcomes here will eventually have a real impact on the measurable dollar amounts which show up in the Return on Investment numbers.

So, back to setting your goals. Be sure they are not too vague or hard to measure. A weak goal for your fitness center client would be: "Our goal is to raise our brand awareness and increase our total number of memberships."

An example of a stronger goal could be: "Our goal is to increase website traffic resulting in 75 new leads and 25 new memberships in the next six months."

Perhaps your client is focused on connecting with influencers in their industry. A weak goal would be: "Our goal is to increase our brand visibility and unsolicited mentions of our company each month."

A much stronger goal is: "To achieve 15-20 unsolicited mentions of our company in industry blogs, publications, and forums each month."

As a copywriter, a vague goal would be: "To increase my Facebook fan base and Twitter followers." A more specific and measurable copywriting goal could be: "To acquire 50 new leads from Social Media and contract with five new clients in the next six months."

In looking at the two types of ROI provided by Social Media activities, here are some suggested ideas of what you can measure:

Return on Investment examples:

  • 500 new subscribers
  • 50 new product sells
  • Six new clients
  • Five new joint venture partnerships
  • $10,000 increase in donations for a non-profit

Return on Influence examples:

  • 1,000 new Twitter followers
  • 2,500 participants in your Facebook Group
  • 1,500 fans to your Facebook fan page
  • 25 mentions per month in blogs, Twitter, niche social sites
  • 400 new RSS subscribers to your blog

Useful Tools to Help You Track Your Social Media ROI

Be sure to take advantage of these very useful tools available to help you track your ROI:

  1. Google Analytics – (This is a very good tool to track website visitor traffic and conversion from Social Media sources)
  2. Feedburner – (Tracks the number of people subscribing to your RSS blog feed)
  3. Frogloop – (This cool Social Media calculator is designed for non-profit campaigns, but can be adapted for other business campaigns as well)
  4. BlogPulse – (Shows the growth in bloggers talking about your business/your client's company and tracks the growth in blog posts regarding a particular domain name)
  5. Trendpedia – (This is a comparative tool to track the number of blog posts that mentioned a particular keyword)
  6. Social Network Influence Statistics:
    • Increased numbers in Facebook fans on your/your client's fan/business page
    • Increase in Twitter conversations pertaining to your business/your client's company
    • Increase in Twitter follows, Facebook friend requests, and FriendFeed subscriptions

If you want to be sure you are participating in the Social Networks effectively, discover the strategies fellow AWAIer Jim Turner uses to find all the clients he needs solely through his Social Network activities. Jim's program, Social Networking: The 21st Century Way to Find New Clients details how you can use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to create a steady stream of hungry prospects and new clients for your freelance copywriting business.

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Published: October 28, 2009

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