Gini Dietrich

Five Ways to Measure Social Media Efforts

By: Gini Dietrich | March 8, 2012 | 

A couple of weeks ago, I was standing in line at security in the Ft. Lauderdale airport. I was fascinated at the three and a half hour line (which I thankfully didn’t have to go through) and commented on it to the guy standing behind me.

We started to talk and he asked me what I was doing in Florida. I explained I had just given the opening keynote at the Retail Packaging Association trade show on using the web for business growth.

He asked if that included social media. I said it did and he relayed a story to me about how many cold calls he gets from social media experts wanting to start Facebook and Twitter accounts for his business.

I said, “Yeah. Well, anyone with a Twitter account and a keyboard is a social media expert.”

They are a dime a dozen.

Yet, there are few who know how to integrate their expertise with real business results.

I swear, if I hear one more time that you can’t measure the ROI of a bar of soap (or your mom or a bag of chips or whatever the cool phrase is at the time), I may actually go ballistic.

The fact of the matter is, you can (and should) measure your social media efforts. Sure, if you’re only tweeting or updating your Facebook page, there isn’t going to be a return-on-investment, other than an increase in fans or followers.

But if you integrate your efforts with other marketing and communication strategies, there are several metrics you can easily track.

  1. Leads. The number of qualified leads that come through your efforts are easily tracked with Google analytics, sites such as Clicky, and good old fashioned asking customers where they heard about you. If you set up your tracking correctly, you’ll be able to watch who comes from the blog, email marketing, and even your social networks.
  2. Converted leads. As you begin to watch your qualified leads, you can do things to nurture them along, keeping you top-of-mind. In some cases, that’s going to be “talking” to them, one-on-one, every day on the social networks. People buy from people they like and trust. And trust can be built through the social networks. But be sure you’re tracking those leads so you can show how your efforts help convert them to customers.
  3. Shortened sales cycle. This won’t necessarily apply to consumer-facing businesses, but if you work in B2B, you know how long it takes to close a new customer. For some, it’s three days and other it’s 12 months. By using social media to stay top-of-mind with your qualified leads, you are able to shorten the sales cycle. Track how long your leads take to become customers and compare that to the other methods of closing new business.
  4. Improved margins. Margins is another word for profit. It comes from the margin between your top line (revenue or sales) and your bottom line (profits after expenses such as payroll, benefits, and rent). Any time you can improve the number that’s left after expenses, the better the company does, in terms of growth. Perhaps there is a new product you can sell online to your social networks or you have created a premium eBook that you can sell. By thinking of new ways to sell, you’re increasing the margins for the company. Even if it’s only one percent, and you can demonstrate that came from your efforts, you’ll be hailed a hero.
  5. Increased fundraising. Not all of us work in for-profit businesses. If you work for a non-profit, the goal might be to increase fundraising. Create a Twitter chat or a program such as 12for12K to demonstrate your social media capabilities are raising money for the organization.

This certainly isn’t every metric you can track, but I was allotted 500 words for this blog post and I’m already over my amount.

But I’ll leave you with this…once you learn how to measure your social media efforts, in real dollars and cents, you’ll get the attention of the executive team and create an opportunity for you to become an investment, instead of an expense.

This first appeared on Social Media Sun.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I thought I recognized this! But the real question is what is the ROI of a pin? Has anyone asked that yet?

    • ginidietrich

       @SociallyGenius Do not make me beat you! Actually, I have two case studies where pinning is driving sales. For one client, it’s the number 10 driver of traffic and, since the beginning of the month, has converted $1,504 in sales. Not too bad for a couple of images on a site that people are down on.

      •  @ginidietrich @SociallyGenius are we talking hat pins or bobby pins. Huge difference.

        • @HowieSPM @ginidietrich I was actually thinking more of the button pins you get at parades and on St. Patty’s day

      • @ginidietrich I figured it would be high in most cases. And Fyi, you beat me, I’ll be forced to drop the ridiculously that’s in front of the awesome

        • ginidietrich

           @SociallyGenius  OK, OK! I won’t beat you!

  • Wow. I can’t believe so-called social media experts are making cold calls. That just doesn’t seem like the best way to get new business. If you’re worth your salt and know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t have to be making cold calls. But that’s just me.
    As for tracking, I think these are great. Even just doing #1 goes a long way. Even my husband’s tiny law firm asks that question on his client in-take forms. We’ve woven it into the process so we know where his business is coming from. I think people are often under the misconception that tracking is only for huge corporations. But, it’s  just as important (or maybe even more so) for small businesses to do it.

    • ginidietrich

       @lauraclick When he told me he’s getting cold calls, I was astounded. We talked a lot about what he does and he asked me how I would approach him. I told him I didn’t think FB or Twitter were right for his business, just knowing what he’d told me. I don’t think many people will say/do that. It kills me.
      I also think the difference comes in either owning your own business or having been charged with a P&L before. Without that business experience, it’s difficult to show results because you just don’t know how.

      •  @ginidietrich @lauraclick I think this is being viewed wrong. I have to directly pursue new business just like a direct sales person because I am not an inbound marketing wiz like Marcus or someone with enough referrals to pay the bills. So I actually look for businesses I want to work with then start calling them. But something tells me I need to be like these experts because I always start with …if you think starting a twitter account or facebook page will make you rich someone is lying to you. They then hang up.

        • ginidietrich

           @HowieSPM  @lauraclick I don’t think that’s true, Howie. You’re just as smart as Marcus. You should have inbound leads galore coming in, based on your engagement online. I do no cold calling. We’re up 37% (so far) this year and it’s all inbound leads. 

        •  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick it’s a different world for this direct sales guy so not sure what I am doing wrong. Maybe too brutally honest?

        • ginidietrich

           @HowieSPM  I’m pretty brutally honest, too, so I don’t think that’s it. I just had a prospect hang up on me because I told him I didn’t think they needed a Facebook account. Clearly that was not what he wanted to hear. Have you done things like created calls-to-action on your blog or developed a monthly newsletter? I already know the answer to that. How about you start with moving to WordPress?

        •  @ginidietrich ACK WordPress! shonali save me!

        • ginidietrich

           @HowieSPM  shonali She won’t save you!

        •  @ginidietrich I’m definitely not going to save @HowieSPM , I’ve been trying to get him to move to WordPress forever. 

        •  @HowieSPM Isnt avoiding WordPress for your blog kinda like people avoiding mobile? And we know how much you hate people not embracing mobile!

        • ginidietrich

           @sydcon_mktg  @HowieSPM Bwahahaha!

        •  @ginidietrich  @sydcon_mktg Hush. I just bought a rotary phone!

      •  @ginidietrich Right there with you. It seems I write and talk more about when social media is NOT right, than when it is. For really small businesses, there are often plenty of other things they need to do first before social. 

    •  @lauraclick I never do completely cold calls, but have asked clients or other people I know to help me with introductions.  I am far, far too shy to do a totally cold call in the first place! 

      • ginidietrich

         @wabbitoid  Asking for referrals is MUCH different than cold calls.

  • AndreeaC_T

    @MargieClayman Happy International Women’s Day darling! Have an awesome day! 🙂 Keep being fabulous!

    • MargieClayman

      @AndreeaC_T back at ya wonderful lady 🙂

      • AndreeaC_T

        @MargieClayman I haven’t forgotten about your pie :). I’ll make another apple pie once this class is over. I’ll send you a few pieces. 🙂

        • MargieClayman

          @AndreeaC_T temptress!! 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @AndreeaC_T @margieclayman WAIT! I want pie!

        • MargieClayman

          @ginidietrich no no. Your thing is cake. I’m pie. cc @AndreeaC_T

  • ginidietrich

    @MargieClayman Super awesome post coming from you this afternoon

    • MargieClayman

      @ginidietrich thanks. Glad you like it. It would suck if you didn’t 😉

      • ginidietrich

        @MargieClayman I will beat you if you don’t share your pie!

        • MargieClayman

          @ginidietrich how’s about if I serve you up a fist sammich before dessert then HUH???

        • ginidietrich

          @MargieClayman I serve you a sammich!

        • MargieClayman

          @ginidietrich mine has toe jam!

  • I can measure the ROI on my soap. I buy environmentally friendly soap. I know the cost. It get’s me clean. I smell fresh and feel fresh. Total positive ROI.
    Your point number 2 I tell many people who are in B2B sales. In many industries that rely on direct sales relationships overcome many shortcomings in your product offerings, quality, even price. And in the case where everything between competitors is equal they buy from the person the like the most.
    Now sometimes this is bad for the salesperson. One guy at a Texaco refinery loved me. He would always give me first shot to sell him instrumentation plumbing. He did magic for little kids birthdays on the side. Then like after 2 years and many lunches I see his Clinton sticker with the O replaced by the Nazi symbol. Or the guy who would refuse to talk to anyone else when I was working Inside Sales for the same company. He gave us all his electrical valve business and just enjoyed chatting with me. Then one day Jim told me his fond memories from Viet Nam. They would fly in their helicopter with Viet Cong prisoners and toss them out one by one placing money bets on how high they bounce after hitting the ground.
    12 and 16 years later and you can tell I am still scarred. Would Social Media of saved me Gini?

    • ginidietrich

       @HowieSPM I don’t think social media can save anyone. But it can be measured. It’s ridiculous anyone thinks every company should have Twitter and Facebook and hang out there and everything will be better. But that’s the “pitch” business leaders are getting from social media experts.

      • @ginidietrich @HowieSPM I’m thinking maybe I need to stop selling mortgages and start selling Social Media. Very few can force choice close as subtlely as me… Will that be Facebook or Twitter Mr Client?

        • ginidietrich

           @SociallyGenius  You probably could get people to buy social media!

      • davedelaney

         @ginidietrich I agree with you completely. Great post by the way. When I meet with clients I insist on setting goals and objectives. It’s crucial that these are set ahead of time, so that time and effort can be effectively measured. This way the program can be fine tuned as it’s needed. 

        • ginidietrich

           @davedelaney And it’s so much easier to know what’s working (and what’s not) when you do that work ahead of time.

    •  @HowieSPM One of these days Howie we’ll have to swap sales stories. I had a guy at a trade show in Vegas tell me that he was placing orders based on measurements, “lap dance” measurements that is. 
      That is the tame version and he was true to his word. I didn’t do any business with him that week, but that is a different story.
       @ginidietrich ROI is a funny thing. Some executives would prefer not to have “accurate” measurements because it has a negative impact on budgets, reviews and their job stability.

      • ginidietrich

         @TheJackB  That’s dumb. If things are done correctly, they’re getting raises.

        •  @ginidietrich  @TheJackB Yes Gini but you have no idea how often I was commanded to inflate my forecast. The issue is short vs long term compensation vs loyalty.
          1] I get paid by quarterly goals
          2] I can be fired at any time
          3] I can leave at any time
          Badda bing…dysfunction

  • ginidietrich

    @BrandConnection You do?!? Really??

    • BrandConnection

      @ginidietrich For sure. The same people that usually mispronounce my name. LOL

  • ginidietrich

    @tracysamantha Thanks!

  • JeffRice63

    @ginidietrich Hi Gini! (not implying u r) ( :

    • ginidietrich

      @JeffRice63 Hi!

      • JeffRice63

        @ginidietrich Why haven’t u been n my life lately?

        • ginidietrich

          @JeffRice63 It’s been crazy busy here! How are you?

  • ginidietrich

    @Tony_Carbon Thank you!

  • paige_speaking

    What measurement tools do you have in place? Great RT by @ginidietrich Five Ways to Measure Social Media Efforts

  • All these guys pitching have become useful to me.  I tell my clients that if I don’t reach a certain measurable we agree on in advance I don’t get paid.  Usually it relates directly to the bottom line – people in the door, dollars in the till.  I get business that way because none of the other cold-callers are willing to do this. 

    • ginidietrich

       @wabbitoid Totally agree – most won’t do it. 

  • clearpointpr

    Everyone with a keyboard does think they’re social media experts. We listened to Jason Falls speak last week at the San Diego Social Media Symposium and he declared “there are no social media experts” and we couldn’t agree more. We are always reseraching and learning more about social media because it changes SO fast. Once you ‘know’ something, it changes again. 

    • ginidietrich

       @clearpointpr Exactly! You can be a communication expert that uses social media, but no one is an expert in the tools.

  • nateriggs

    I guess I never understood what was so hard about ROI in social media. It’s just tools. Use tools well and you get value. Use tools poorly and you’ve wasted your investment of time, energy, money or all three.
    It comes down to two sets of metrics — the ones that tell you how big and strong you are building your new online channel and then the KPI’s for your business that are effected by the types of things you do on the channel you’ve built up across social media.
    But … I still think my mom still has ROI too. 😉

    • ginidietrich

       @nateriggs See, you and I are in the same camp. We don’t think this is hard. But we’re in the minority. The vast minority. Measurement is not sentiment. That’s awareness. Measurement is business growth – the things we pay our bills with.

  • ginidietrich

    @dfolkens And sentiment and followers

  • ginidietrich

    @KaryD Oh hi!

    • KaryD

      @ginidietrich Hey you. Hope you haven’t gone ballistic over anything lately. 🙂

      • ginidietrich

        @KaryD I haven’t gone ballistic in at least a day. 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @davedelaney I see you here and on @spinsucks!

    • davedelaney

      @ginidietrich @spinsucks I get around. 😛

  • Amen. 

    • ginidietrich

       @jasonkonopinski What’s for dinner tonight??

      •  @ginidietrich Good grief, woman. Quit pestering me! 😉
        Honestly, I haven’t the foggiest idea yet. I want to grill something. 

        • ginidietrich

           @jasonkonopinski I’m hungry!

        •  @ginidietrich What else is new? 😉 

        • ginidietrich

           @jasonkonopinski I know! And cycling season hasn’t even begun yet. Pete will be out in full force soon!

  • GemCraftBoutiqu

    @MediaTip thanks for the retweet!

  • All this stuff did seem difficult to me, until I started reading Spin Sucks.
    With so many tools to choose from, so many platforms to keep up with, and what seems like daily tech updates, how in the world can anyone really be a “Social Media Expert?” If they are, they must be smarter than Carl Sagan was.
    I’m a social media baby, but in the branding business for more years than I’d like to mention. Guess what? I still cold call AND about 50% of my currently client work is from those calls. I know, crazy! I realize I need to change this strategy right now and am working on it daily, using your advice of course, Gini.
    Now, trying to figure out G+ for business.

    • ginidietrich

       @Craig McBreen Was Carl Sagan smart? 🙂
      Use G+ for SEO. You don’t need to use it for anything else. Are you using it to drive traffic to your blog?

      •  @ginidietrich 
        He sure knew how to say “billions and billions!” 
        Yes, just now trying to figure it out! I guess I should search the archives here, huh?

  • ginidietrich

    @ideasurge Where the heck have you been?!?

  • evolutionfiles

    @miguelcurrey Great piece on sm measurement, thx for RTing it. How’s your week goin?

  • DonaldinDC

    Great metrics-focus: “you can (and should) measure your social media efforts” from @ginidietrich – five tips

  • Well, I am no “guru” but I incorporate Social into Small Business very often.  I just signed up for ArgyleSocial, which makes measuring results EASY and interesting… and very useful.
    How long can ‘unmeasurable’ Social last?

    • ginidietrich

       @AmyMccTobin It won’t last much longer. I think 2012 is the year people’s feet are held to the fire with results and 2013 will see a mass exodus of those who don’t get it.

      •  @ginidietrich I for one have a hard time ‘selling’ my clients anything I can’t prove.  I’m glad of the exodus… and if my clients don’t want to pay enough to cover the analysis, they shouldn’t be doing Social anyway.

        • ginidietrich

           @AmyMccTobin Amen! We won’t take on a client that doesn’t want to do it. I totally agree with you.

  • Pingback: Tweeting for justice: Why social media is the new face of feminism | Open Knowledge()

  • I think the real difficulty with social media is measuring the real return vs efforts or time. Like the Gold Rush, how many really became rich? Or richer? I mean, beside those who sold tools.
    But as you said if it can be measured then social media are a tool which can become useful for business. Depending on the result of the measure clearly.
    Happy weekend! Here’s already Friday. 🙂

    • ginidietrich

       @Andrea Hypno You’re exactly right, which is why I think the Gold Rush tools is the integrated marketing communication strategy. It’s not social media. It’s not the platforms. It’s in the integration.

  • Great stuff! I think posts like this are important. Figuring out the ROI piece is very much in the self interest of most marketers (unless the ROI is not good).
    Like any “it” thing (i.e. bubble), there is a grace period where no one wants to buck the trend. In the end, Corporate dollars are finite and will be given to those departments who can prove that they will produce a return on them.

    • ginidietrich

       @adamtoporek Yep. Exactly right. And, I’ll tell you what. We have one client who hired us toward the end of 2010 because they thought we’d get them on Facebook and Twitter. What we discovered were both were a waste of time for their business, but they had untapped opportunities with other online means…and they made an additional $3.2MM through our programs last year. So they’re OK with not being on Twitter or Facebook.

      •  @ginidietrich  get me those numbers, you can have all of my FB and Tw accounts. I think that’s like 1.6M per follower in my case.  🙂

        • ginidietrich

           @adamtoporek Wow. With an offer like that…

  • Pingback: The Friday 5 for March 9th | REALTY LAB()

  • ginidietrich

    @HeidiEKMassey You can always carry a ninja sword. You just tell people I said so

  • naimeesha

    @realsocialroi thaks for sharing

  • ginidietrich

    @DeborahInComms It’s frustrating people are saying you can’t measure it

  • Pingback: 3 blogs that you probably haven’t checked out « A little bit of life()

  • seniorinternet

    RT @jeanlucr: 5 Ways to Measure Social Media Efforts #socialmedia

  • ginidietrich

    @thesnowlegacy You’re so good to me!

  • biancaben

    I really liked this, very straight forward. There are a lot of thoughts and ideas about social meda measurement that are being recycled but I thought you provided some fresh ideas that can help the bottom line.

  • Pull_Innovation

    @glenn_ferrell Thx for the RT, Glenn

  • sarajeanmiller

    RT @MattLaCasse Five Ways to Measure Social Media Efforts via @ginidietrich

  • Pingback: Conducting Surveys: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by @extremelyavg | Spin Sucks()

  • Pingback: Weekly Writer’s Round-Up: Week of June 11, 2012 | Chris Devlin's Blog()

  • Pingback: How Instagram Makes Communities Better by @topherjryan | Spin Sucks()

  • Pingback: Show Me The Return on Investment by @petercanthony | Peter Anthony()

  • Pingback: Applying the Scientific Method to Your Social Media Plan()

  • Pingback: Social media is great but measuring sucks [infographic] | Running a PR life()

  • Pingback: Social media measurement, math, and other things PR pros are afraid of | Thornley Fallis()

  • Pingback: Is your social media startegy working? « MEWS – Middle East Web Solutions – Web Development, Web Design, Internet Marketing, SEO , SEM In the Middle East.()

  • Pingback: Math is following me! | arianatopetro()

  • Pingback: Show Me the Return On Investment | UGN - Automotive Industry Solutions()

  • Pingback: Conducting Surveys: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly « MindCorp | Newsfeed()

  • Pingback: How Instagram Makes Communities Better « MindCorp | Newsfeed()

  • Pingback: Analyze This: A Social Media Measurement Process | FeedBlitz - Email Marketing and RSS()