We still continue to hear the common “What’s the ROI for social media?” question when we visit prospects. But, we get it. You need to justify social media efforts to your bosses and show what impact social media is having on your academic unit or college.
The problem is, there is no simple or easy answer to this question. Social media ROI differs for every college and every situation. Units often aren’t sure what to measure, or measuring the wrong thing, or even worse, measuring nothing at all.
That’s why measuring can be tough and confusing. You’re asked to measure tough objectives and are often inundated with data that you can’t sift through. Or, you’re familiar with measuring ROI for traditional media and quickly realize it is a different ballgame when it comes to social media.
Has your Dean recently come to you and said, “I need to see how your social media efforts are helping us with our strategic goals.” If so, we can help!
Below are six easy steps that can help you add to your marketing toolbox and deliver social media ROI to your Dean, Associate Dean, Vice President or boss to show you are accomplishing the desired outcomes in coordination with the college’s strategic plans.
Before you begin you will need some key resources:
1. Google Analytics
2. Social Media monitoring and publishing tools
3. Shared content calendars
4. Survey tools
5. Marketing automation – Email management, CRM tools, etc.
Once you have taken inventory of these items, it’s time to follow the below steps to begin to deliver real ROI to your dean.
Step 1: Set Your Conversion Goals
As we said earlier, measuring ROI is tricky because it can differ for everybody. That’s why deciding which conversions properly align with your goals is key and the first step you need consider. What are conversion goals? We’re glad you asked:
1. New followers
2. Click to a website
3. Online form completed (students, donors, alumni)
4. Downloads of a file
5. Sign up for Newsletters (students, donors, alumni)
6. Video Views
7. Engage in social media interaction (share, like, follow)
Decide which of these conversions is most important to your unit and begin to track them. Don’t worry if you decide on more than one of these metrics or all of them, they are all easy to track and monitor. You may also decide that some of the metrics matter more for certain campaigns, and that’s ok. Just be mindful that every campaign may have different conversion goals.
Step 2: Track Your Conversions
You’ve set your conversion goals for each campaign and have identified the overall conversions that will matter to your Dean. Now you must track them properly. There are five metrics that are important to ensure you track your conversions in a way that will help you calculate your ROI.
1. Reach – The more follows, fans, and group members you have, the greater potential ROI for any campaign or promotion
2. Traffic – Getting visitors to your website or another URL where conversions happen is a major goal for any social media plan
3. Leads – This is important! This is the ratio of leads coming from each referring site
4. Customers – Track the number AND social media-generated leads that complete your desired behavior
5. Conversion Rate – The percentage of visitors by social media platforms or promotion piece tells you what’s working and what’s not
Step 3: Assign Monetary Value to Each Conversion
You can assign monetary values to your customers in many ways. But, if you know the lifetime value of your “customers” it’s easy to backtrack for conversion value. If you don’t have historical date, you can use common sense and experience to help assign these values.
For example, if you know that the lifetime value of your average person who donates to unrestricted is $175, and 1 in every 10 people who downloads your latest eBook donates unrestricted, the value per download of that eBook is $17.50.
Again, there are a variety of formulas to help assign these values, so contact us if you’d to learn more.
Step 4: Measure Total Benefits By Channel
You’ve set up a campaign, or decided which goals matter to your college and you’ve been starting to track your conversions. With these new monetary values, you’ll now need to do the math and show which incoming traffic is driving the most value per conversion.
(For offline conversions or to track particular channels, you’ll need to direct visitors to a special URL.)
You’ll remember you’ve established that eBook downloads are worth $17.50, and at the end of your eBook run there were 3,100 conversions from Facebook, 580 from LinkedIn, 200 from Twitter and 100 from Instagram. That translates into 3,980 conversions and a potential revenue of $69,650.
Step 5: Determine Total Costs
Sorry to dampen your enthusiasm, but you didn’t reach that potential revenue without incurring some costs along the way. After all, your staff doesn’t work for free and neither does Verge Pipe Media! There were advertising fees, labor costs, and other factors at play to help you reach that audience that must be deducted.
After you factor in those costs, you will determine the total cost to you and the college.
Step 6: Analyze Results and Improve
Use the intelligence from Steps 4 and 5 to calculate the ROI per social media channel. Now you have results per channel and for the campaign or promotion overall. This is the tangible information that you can deliver to your superiors.
Look at these hard numbers to see where can improve your social media marketing and communications efforts. We like to say “test and learn” a lot at Verge Pipe Media and that’s exactly what you must do once you begin to measure. Test different promotions and efforts and learn from the results. Then replicate what is working and adjust what isn’t.
You’ll also need to take a hard look at your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Diagnostic Metrics. KPI’s should align to your objectives and tell you “are we winning or losing.” They’ll also give you a look at if your social media efforts are affecting desired behaviors. KPIs include impressions, positive and negative sentiments, brand positioning and preferences and other key behaviors.
Diagnostic Metrics help you identify which changes need to be made to any strategy in order to improve on KPIs. Ask yourself, “Are we executing our messaging strategy properly,” or “Is our content resonating?” Diagnostic metrics include number of new fans and likes, wall posts, video views, link shares, link clicks, media uploads, etc.
Once again, don’t be afraid to audit yourself! It creates a baseline for all future improvements. Use the tools at your disposal to test and learn.
So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance
With data there is always chance. We recognize the communications and marketing landscape is changing each day and practitioners need to be agile. They have to be prepared to deliver data that can sometimes seem overwhelming. That’s where we can help!
At Verge Pipe Media, we are a data driven agency that employs the above tactics on a regular basis to help our higher education clients deliver ROI to their dean. If you'd like to learn more about how we've directly helped a client, click below and download our FREE case study that show how we helped the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University achieve tremedous social media growth and reach.