If you're like most marketers, you're adopting social media as an increasingly integral part of your content strategy. Last year, nearly 92% of marketers working at companies with 100-plus employees said using social media for marketing purposes was a regular part of their roles; in 2013, that figure was just 86%.
This adoption trend represents progress, but companies still have a ways to go before they're reaping the most of their social media content marketing strategies. In the past, many companies underestimated the power of social media and failed to see it as essential to their businesses. And though this mindset has greatly shifted as we've witnessed the viral effect of social media on businesses' marketing efforts, many organizations still don't see the full potential that social media holds.
Why? Because they have a hard time trusting in what they have difficulty measuring. In order to understand the true value of your social activity in terms of the impact it has on your business goals, you have to know how to track and showcase its ROI. Below, we'll cover tips that can help.
First and foremost, you need to identify the objective behind your social media strategy: Do you want to use social media to engage with others and build industry influence? Position yourself as an ideal employer? Drive more leads for your business?
Ultimately, the content marketing goals you can achieve with social media fall into three main categories:
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Your success in hitting your goals will likely vary by platform, just as the ways to increase social media engagement do. For example, we've found that Twitter is more effective at building thought leadership, while LinkedIn is a useful tool for employer branding. (In fact, a recent study shows that 60% of prospective employees use LinkedIn to conduct research on a potential employer before applying.) Facebook can also be great for employer branding and lead generation, as it offers ways to humanize your business, engage your audience, and invite people to opt in when the time is right.
Tailoring your objective to each network is one of the best ways to increase engagement on social media. Once you've nailed down your goal(s) and mapped out a social media content marketing plan to help you achieve them, it's time to start tracking your progress.
Despite their aptitude in developing social media strategies to increase engagement, content marketers still struggle with measuring and demonstrating ROI. According to Content Marketing Institute's 2022 report, over half of B2B content marketers characterize their teams' abilities to measure their content performance as "average."
Having the right technology to analyze your social media accounts makes measuring ROI a lot easier. For example, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and HubSpot are all popular reporting and analytics tools that can help you get the job done.
Do you know the questions to ask and content success metrics to review to evaluate the impact of your content?
HubSpot allows you to analyze the performance of your social media posts by showcasing the number of clicks, shares, and other key metrics indicative of your performance. You can also extract more granular data with this tool that you can't access through social media platforms, such as the number of contacts and marketing-qualified leads driven to your website from your social media pages.
The image below outlines the key performance indicators you need to have access to in order to accurately measure the impact of your social media efforts based on your business goals:
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Once you have access to these key metrics, you can begin documenting the ROI of your social media efforts.
Start by creating a shared spreadsheet that can be accessed by your team. List in the columns the names of the KPIs you're tracking, and set a reasonable benchmark goal for each one. The layout of your spreadsheet should look similar to this:
Track your progress weekly in each of these areas by using your preferred analytics tool to gather the necessary metrics. Populate them in the spreadsheet over time and evaluate your success at the end of the quarter.
Breaking down your progress week by week allows you to pinpoint trends more easily. If you notice a peak or dip, you can go back and attribute the change to specific social posts and identify whether they are helping you achieve your overall objectives. This will help inform your social media strategy and boost your business results moving forward.
As the internet continues to evolve, one thing is certain: The importance of social media in content marketing will only grow. Rather than creating social media content just for the sake of it and crossing your fingers that it will help your business, taking a more strategic approach that's informed by data and proven ROI will pay off big time in the long run!
I'm a marketing assistant at Intero Digital's Content & PR Division, and I love all things social media. When I'm not scouring the internet for content and being a typical Gen Zer, I'm either working on my clothing business or hanging out somewhere on a lake in Missouri.