We know that tracking, measuring, and proving Social Media ROI isn’t as easy as solely setting a goal and monitoring your progress toward it via KPIs.
In a recent Agorapulse study, a total of 10,650,123 social media posts (excluding Instagram) were analyzed, according to CEO Emeric Ernoult in his Social Media Marketing World presentation. Out of all those posts, 32% (3,393,506) contained a link. But of them, only a scant 1.8% (64,884) contained tracking parameters.
That means a whopping 98.2% of social media posts that could lead to conversions or revenue will never be tracked.
Why so little measuring social media ROI? Is it due to lack of prioritization?
Agorapulse surveyed 300 social media professionals about the business impact of social media. Even though a staggering 98% say it’s somewhat or extremely important to measure the business impact of social media, only 35% actually do it.
Do CMOs feel the same? According to an Adverity study, around 38% of CMOs say that measuring Social Media ROI is their biggest challenge. And a Marketing Charts article states that 98% of CMOs say that measuring ROI and ROMI is the biggest issue keeping them up at night.
Aside from lack of knowledge, lack of tools, and time constraints, three huge hurdles need to be overcome before you prove Social Media ROI.
Each hurdle centers on data.
Social Media ROI Hurdle #1
iOS 14.5 and the removal of third-party cookie data collection
To answer consumer demands for more privacy, more transparency, and more control regarding how and where their data is used, high-profile companies did the following.
- Apple released iOS 14.5, which means that all apps are now required to ask their users to opt-in to consent to data collection and tracking.
- Firefox introduced “Total Cookie Protection,” which stops cookie data collection on Firefox browsers.
- Google Chrome is planning to sunset its third-party cookie tracking in 2024. (Note: This initiative has been delayed twice.)
All that is fantastic news for us as consumers. But it’s terrible news for us as social media marketers and managers. Especially if we’re trying to measure and prove Social Media ROI.
A lack of third-party data means we’ll find it harder to track consumer journeys through the funnel.
We won’t know where consumers have come from, what they have or haven’t interacted with, or where they’ve dropped off. For instance, since the iOS 14.5 release only 10% of iPhone users now share their data with advertisers. It used to be up to 70%!
Less data means we’ll find it more difficult to improve our social media ROI. How will we know what is and isn’t working? And we’ll have to work harder to track our progress toward our KPIs and our ultimate objective.
“Since iOS 14.5 came out, measuring Social Media ROI has become much more difficult,” says Ratz. “Allowing people to turn off tracking has certainly been an impediment.”
Social Media ROI Hurdle #2
Too much data at times
Despite the removal of our third-party tracking capabilities, however, we still have access to huge amounts of data due to technological and advanced analytics tools.
Sometimes, we’re faced with such a barrage of it that it can be a time-draining struggle to find meaningful social media metrics that help us track and prove progress toward our KPIs. Especially if you’re collecting data from different sources and storing it in multiple spreadsheets, which you update manually.
“Say you have an omnichannel presence and you’re working on selling things from different platforms or websites, or URLs. That’s when it can become tricky and there’s just a lot of data that can be pooled together.” (Deonnah Carolus)
Social Media ROI Hurdle #3
Data can’t always be trusted
“There’s a trust issue with data,” says marketing expert Paul Ince. “Can you trust the numbers that you see, whether it’s on Facebook, someone else’s platform, or anywhere else? I think we sometimes struggle to articulate the whole situation with data, and all the limitations this brings.”
Over one-third of CMOs don’t trust the data they have at their disposal. Why not?
The mistrust stems from a fear of the unknown. The data and insights that we get from social media are based on algorithms and web analytic platforms. How much do we really know about those things?
Do you have a deep understanding of how the Instagram algorithm works? Do you know in great detail how Google Analytics gathers its user data?
Despite the three data-centric obstacles, we can still hurdle over them and succeed in measuring Social Media ROI.
Overcome Social Media ROI Hurdle #1
How to get beyond the iOS 14.5 update and the removal of third-party cookie data
“Even if you only know 75% of what’s happening, that will give you enough guidance to know what to spend your money on to make a good return.” (Azriel Ratz)
Don’t get hung up on the loss of third-party web browser data. Instead, invest wisely in tools that can hook into comprehensive analytics platforms and offer you real-time reporting.
“Even if you’re not 100% clear on where every single dollar is coming from, tools like Agorapulse, Google Analytics, and even Shopify will give you enough data to give you direction on where your next dollar should be spent, and you can show that to the board,” says Ratz.
Ratz specifically mentions Agorapulse because it’s the only social media management platform that automatically adds UTMs to every link that you publish on social media.
Agorapulse is the only tool that connects to Google Analytics and allows you to track users as and when they interact with your content, in real time.
“Diving into the data is the best way to tell the story and assess whether your efforts are actually impactful on the various platforms.” (Julia Jornsay-Silverberg)
Agorapulse gives you access to data that will prove your progress toward your KPIs and allow you to see how much you’re spending on social media campaigns vs how much you’re making.
Agorapulse’s built-in ROI calculator lets you assign monetary values to metrics that matter, such as the number of:
- Engaged fans
- Link clicks
As you publish content, with auto-added UTMs, you can see whether you’re making or losing money.
Yes. Agorapulse really can measure Social Media ROI.
“Providing you use effective naming conventions, you can actually see how much money you’re spending on each social platform vs how much money you’re bringing in.” (Deonnah Carolus)
Could this be the answer to all your Social Media ROI problems?
It is for Lisa Gautreau. As the communication and brand manager for Plezi, she uses Agorapulse to prove the ROI for all her and her team’s social media efforts.
“We add UTMs to every link that we share. That way, I can track the daily performance for each campaign,” she says.
“This means that when the sales team signs a new client, it will always indicate the initial source. When I see ‘social networks’, it makes me so happy to know that my work has had an impact on the business.
“This is the key: Use UTMs (or configure them directly via Agorapulse) to allow you to see what’s generating your income.
“Notoriety is good, but proof of conversions and turnover is better!”
“If you’re using the correct UTMs you can gather good data and track how you’re performing, which platform is driving traffic, which campaign is driving traffic, and what targeting is driving traffic,” says Ratz.
“Focus on the big picture: See where the sales are coming in, and just do more of that.”
Overcome Social Media ROI Hurdle #2
How to conquer data burnout
It’s actually easy to streamline and consolidate data collection to make it more manageable, less time-consuming, and less reliant on manual processes and spreadsheets.
How? By investing in the right tools (and also making sure that you’re tagging your content correctly).
“Analytic tools are pretty great. You can really drill down into the data and track the more nebulous types of things,” says Carolus.
“I still use Google Analytics to track results from social, especially when it just comes to traffic and conversions. It’s easy within the Google Analytics funnel to see your social media efforts.”
And, as we discovered in the previous chapter, Agorapulse is the only social media management platform that directly connects to Google Analytics.
Agorapulse’s reporting functionality automatically pulls data from the social media networks that you use. It tracks every piece of content that you publish. The reporting feature pulls this data into clear dashboards that allow you to see, at a glance, how you’re tracking toward your KPIs.
You don’t need to keep spreadsheets full of manually added UTMs. You don’t need to pull data from individual social media accounts and build performance reports yourself. And you don’t need to trawl through mountains of data to find the metrics you need to prove performance.
You just need Agorapulse.
“Use the right tools, it really makes a difference,” says Gautreau. “Social media management tools, like Agorapulse, save you valuable time. The time you save will allow you to better analyze what does and doesn’t work, and find new creative ideas that will make a difference.”
Overcome Social Media ROI Hurdle #3
How to trust the data you have
This hurdle is a little more complicated to overcome.
“Triangulating data from multiple different sources will reassure you that you’re seeing the same story across all of your data collection points.” (Paul Ince)
For example, you could compare data from your Facebook ads with the data in your Google Analytics account and the data in your ecommerce platform.
Compare what the insights are telling you across all your data sources. Doing so will help you spot inconsistencies that you can investigate and rectify, or reassure you that the data you’ve collected is painting an accurate picture.
“Triangulating data will help you make sense of the data and then create a narrative that tells a story about what the performance is and what we think the outcomes are,” says Ince.
Or how about you go truly analog and actually ask the original source of data–your customers– questions?
“We encourage businesses to ask their customers questions: Where did you hear about us? Where did you see this? What did you think of this… Collect the data first-hand.” (Paul Ince)
Not only will this mean that the data you gather is completely accurate and trustworthy, but it also has the added benefit of strengthening relationships with customers.
“The limitations for measuring Social Media ROI are why we measure social ROI using the feedback we receive from our clients,” says Lauren Garner, VP of Marketing for Trinity Packing Supply.
“While we may not be able to put an exact dollar amount on those social efforts, our content is keeping us top-of-mind and getting our feet in the door for growth opportunities.”
We’ve fixed some of the issues with proving Social Media ROI.