Originally posted on the Hootsuite blog

When it comes to social media, one of the biggest challenges businesses face is measuring return on investment (ROI)—especially as the landscape continues to evolve.

As the CEO of LiftMetrix, a social media analytics platform and Hootsuite partner, my job is solving the complexity around ROI measurement. And I believe businesses and brands can do that by following these five simple rules.

Don’t let your team get away with reports that focus only on likes, shares, comments, and reach

It is imperative that you define the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you want your social media team to reach. Otherwise, there can be no expectation that the investment in paid ads or content creation is being fully optimized against the business’ goals.

My advice is to work with your team to define the results that will justify the time you invest in social media. Help your employees understand what metrics move the needle for the business and challenge them to demonstrate how social drives those metrics. My best advice is to choose social goals that align with your business objectives, rather than likes, shares and comments. For example, if your goal is to acquire new subscribers to your blog, use Google Analytics to track that event and measure it from social.

Encourage open communication between your community management, website analytics, and social ad buying teams

To truly understand your ROI, you need to examine your data from social media ad buys, data from content you published on social media channels (comments, shares, likes, etc.), and data from traffic on your website that originated from social media platforms. If your content team does not have access to your paid data, they may wrongly assume that a certain piece of content is outperforming another, when in reality, it’s the promotion behind it. Likewise, if the paid team has no access to the data, they may be targeting the wrong audience.

The key is to make sure you have a data-sharing strategy. This can be as simple as a manual collection process that ends in excel spreadsheet, or as complex as leveraging a tool such as Tableau to centralize all your data.

Organize all your social media metrics and insights so that they’re visible to all teams

Every ad targeting set you create on Facebook, every link that gets clicked on Twitter, and every piece of blog content that does well gives you insight into your audience and what they like. It’s essential to make sure that you have a way of recording this data and then distributing it to the necessary teams so that they can use it to make smarter marketing choices.

I suggest recording your social data in a company-wide data warehouse to give your business intelligence team the necessary information to make smarter decisions.

If your business has a centralized database that houses social media ad and content data, e-commerce purchasing data, and customer data, then your business intelligence team could leverage data visualization tools to extract powerful insights.

Know when to increase budget or resources for the social media ad buying team

If you have not defined the KPIs that trigger the need for additional budget or more resources, then you have not properly incentivized your social media team to grow the business.

At LiftMetrix, we’ve published a great deal of content on the best ways to measure your ROI on social media. These methods can help you properly define a framework to enable you to make calculated decisions on budgeting and staffing.

Spend time with current and prospective vendors

Social media is incredibly complex. The pace of innovation around new social networks, ad products, and data availability can be overwhelming. If you are not learning about these shifts directly from your existing and prospective vendors, you are missing out.

I recommend that you spend time with different social media tools, apps, and integrations to learn about their capabilities and what is going on in the market. You should dedicate time each month to sit in on three to four conversations with these providers because they are experts in the space and you can leverage that expertise at no cost. You can also then build a stronger stack of tools to address your specific business needs.

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Posted by Nik Pai