Let’s be real – we can all stand up in a meeting and claim that it is difficult to measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media or Social Media ROI. We can list a number reasons that make it difficult, such as:

1)   complexity with attribution

2)   inability to track offline sales

3)   difficulty in valuing customer support

4)   No way of capturing the opportunity cost of not having a social media presence, and the list goes on and on

However, are we doing ourselves more harm than good?

Let me explain, Our career goals are pretty simple:

1)   increase our salary

2)   get promoted / empowerment

3)   maintain job security

4)   get recognized for our hard work

In your company, your executives are driving the ship and have to report on business KPI’s to their bosses – investors and board members. These KPI’s usually are around revenue, profit, customers, etc. For them to be able to get bigger bonuses, promotions, praise, and not get fired, they have to make sure that those numbers go up.

Now, here is where it gets messy. If you are arguing that its too difficult to measure ROI and instead its best to focus on engagement and awareness, you are no longer aligned with the goals of your executives. Likes, shares, comments, and fans doesn’t get them paid.


The result is that when money is flowing in and there are now opportunities to promote people, give bonuses / raises, and recognize people for hard work, they will inherently focus on those that are driving the business KPI’s.  These divisions will see their budgets grow, will get more hires, and their employees will see more career growth.

Now, when times get tough, executives will immediately slash budgets, do layoffs, and move resources for those divisions that do not impact their business KPI’s. So if this is the case, don’t you want to make the case to your leadership that you are driving ROI on Social Media?

It is not a blessing that your boss isn’t asking for ROI on Social Media, it is actually a disservice to you! They are putting your career at risk. So instead of just reporting on likes, shares, comments, talk to your boss about what are the important metrics for the executive team and find ways to align your social media metrics with those business metrics.

If it’s not immediately obvious, here are some examples on how to tell a data story:

Provide analysis on the cost savings of running customer support through social media versus the phone. By saving costs, you are driving profits.

Perform media math modeling to show the value of social media at different points of the conversion funnel (e.g. value per link click, value per impression, value per mobile install.)

Start attributing online revenue to different social media channels.

Start attributing lead generation conversion points to social media channels and assigning values (value per form qualified lead, etc).

Correlated the growth in offline sales with the increases in media spends on social media to come up with a strategy on how each $1 of social media drives a sales.

You also don’t need to limit yourselves to one of the above, you can do all of them.

Next time you are meeting with your executives, go in with a presentation that shows them how you are impacting their business KPI’s. You can include all the typical engagement stats, but tell a data story that aligns with the business goals. The benefit of you being the one to bring this to the table is that you can define the story that you want to tell.

So stop defending the argument that measuring ROI is difficult and start finding ways to tell the data story about how your actions on social media are driving business value. Need more? Download 5 Steps to Social ROI Measurement.

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Posted by Nik Pai