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Yes You Can Prove Social Media ROI (Email Series – Part 3)

This blog post is Part 3 of 3 in an email series titled 3 Critical Steps To Social Media Success – A Social Media Manager Shares His Secrets”. It has been written in collaboration with Reid Travis, Social Media Manager – Panchero’s Mexican Grill.

To receive all of the emails and articles in this series and to sign up for our newsletter, click this link and sign up now.

Reid Travis has been working as a Social Media Manager for Panchero’s Mexican Grill for over 18 months now, and in that time he has adopted some great practices that have helped him excel in his job. The basic everyday roles of a social media manager can be divided into three umbrella categories; monitor, manage and measure. For the remainder of this post we are going to dive into the details regarding the monitoring portion of Reid’s job; share a few tips and hopefully inspire you to implement some of these practices for your company, or personal brand.


You Can’t Improve What You Don’t Measure

Welcome back to the third and final part of our blog series about social media. Thus far, we have covered how to begin monitoring a brand online and also how to efficiently manage a brand once you have started establishing a presence online. This final article will focus on the measuring aspects of your social presence.

There is one question that keeps social media managers up at night, haunts our dreams, and sends shivers down our spine: “What is the ROI from our social media?” This loaded question can sometimes be difficult to answer, not because ROI doesn’t exist in social media, but because the process of measuring your return is quite a bit different than the traditional ROI equation.

Before I get into the breakdown of measuring social media ROI, I want to show you some tools you can use to properly measure your social media presence. After all, if you can’t prove people are even paying attention to your content, than any hope of proving social media ROI is pretty much lost.

Google Analytics

Our old friend Google is back again! Google Analytics is a free tool used to analyze the traffic for websites and blogs. Google Analytics displays basic information such as unique visitors, page views and visits but also hits the nitty gritty stuff like entrance paths, bounce rate and time on page. (It can measure your Google Adwords campaign, too!) The service can be implemented by simply embedding the code into your website or blog.

I unfortunately don’t have the wherewithal to hit all the features of Google analytics in this post. Fortunately, though, Google has put together an incredible YouTube channel chocked full of videos to help you be an analytics pro!


I’ve been utilizing a service called Squawq to help me track my conversation and brand mentions on Twitter. Squawq gives me a graph of brand mentions over time and also a few other analytics including keyword association and a list of VIP twitter handles that interact with me at a high frequency.

When looking at this information, specifically the graph to the right, you see obvious spikes over the last month. Part of my job is to isolate these spikes and compare them to my communication timeline and see what might be causing these jumps in brand mentions or interactions. In this case, the spikes come on Fridays, for the most part, which is when I play an online Trivia game via Twitter, therefore we see interactions spike.

Shortening links is a huge necessity on Twitter. When you only have 140 characters to work with, it doesn’t fly to have a link with 130 characters. Services like bit.ly allow you to not only shorten your links, but also see analytics for that link.

Here’s an example of the type of information you can analyze by using a bit.ly link. Click on this link: http://bit.ly/bh0l6e+ (Notice the + at the end of this link that takes you to the bit.ly analytics page). The analytics you see is for a blog post I did about Panchero’s and this content is available from any bit.ly link and allows you to prove that people are interacting with your content and passing it around! (that’s a big deal!)


Facebook has an analytics service called Facebook Insights. Facebook Insights can be accessed through a Facebook Fan Page by anyone who holds admin status on the page. Again, I put a huge stress on patterns with these kind of analytics. It’s great to see someone visited your page, but the key component is drawing conclusions of why and how they are visiting your content.

Now you know how to see if people are interacting with you online, time to take this to the next step! ROI…

How To Measure Social Media ROI

ROI is found by taking the difference of your gain from investment and cost of investment and dividing it by the cost of your investment. This equation tells you whether your initial investment is yielding positive results. However, that equation is pretty cut and dry. It asks you to have some rather specific numbers so that you can plug them into the equation.

Social media measuring can return some hard numbers (and I will show you where and how to get those) but you aren’t trying to make those numbers fit into a cut and dry equation. Social media measuring is more about discovering patterns and correlation. Patterns in your consumer’s behavior or your business can be just as useful, if not more useful, as a simple equation.

Examples of where you may want to be looking for patterns:

  • Year over year overall growth.
  • Sales revenues
  • Number of transactions
  • Net new customers

Step One: Create a Baseline

The specific metrics you want to pay attention to will differ based on your goals and your business, but these are just a few examples.

The first step is establishing a starting point. Create a baseline for these numbers to grow from. Take a look at your month to month sales revenues and draw a big fat line down the month in which you started your social media. From now on, when you refer back to this data you have a specific starting point to reference.

Step Two: Create Activity Timelines

Make a timeline of your weeks and continue to fill in exactly what content and activity took place on your social media channels. This isn’t just great for ROI measuring, it also allows you to look back on your content over the months and make sure you are actually covering the goals and content you set out to create when you started. (talk about a win win situation!)

Step Three: Compare and Prove Relationships

Remember that line in the sand you drew in your sales revenues? Reference back to that point, look at the growth and then look for the comparisons and relationships you can find in your social media activity charts.

How were people touched by social media, if at all, during those sudden jumps or continuous growth in your sales over the last month. By proving these relationships you can help to justify that your social content is really working and driving some sort of change. No, it’s not a cut and dry equation, but yes it’s better than tweeting like a mad man and wondering if it has had any impact on your sales.

The Social Media ROI equation

Measure your social media and prove that people are, in fact, visiting your pages and interacting with your content. Then, take to the books and show that the interaction you’ve had on specific days (or over time) are responsible for the positive impacts!

I didn’t say this was an exact science. Social media is a powerful tool and can make serious impacts in numerous areas of your business, but it doesn’t come without a little bit of work on the back end.

Just like with the rest of this blog series, there is far too much content around this topic to truly cover all aspects in a single blog post. However, this should get you thinking and hopefully give you some ideas! Use the examples and apply them to your own specific needs. The goals and areas of measuring social media ROI is very different from company to company, but it all boils down to patterns. Try to look for patterns and/or anomalies in your business and use the measuring techniques to show that social media was a driving force in that difference.

Screenshots and information attributed to Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder)

Thanks for checking out the final article in this series “3 Critical Steps To Social Media Success – A Social Media Manager Shares His Secrets”. I would love to hear what you think! Do you have any tools that you use to measure your social media that I haven’t covered in this article?

Reid Travis – Social Media Manager
Panchero’s Mexican Grill

Trevor Turnbull is the President of T3 CONNECT Sports Marketing, COO of Sports Networker & Sports Executives Association, Contributing Writer for Entrepreneur.com, the lead Linkedin trainer for Route Three Marketing and co-producer of Zero To Money Making Website & WordPress Authorities. Connect with Trevor on Google+
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About Trevor Turnbull

Trevor Turnbull is the President of T3 CONNECT Sports Marketing, COO of Sports Networker & Sports Executives Association, Contributing Writer for Entrepreneur.com, the lead Linkedin trainer for Route Three Marketing and co-producer of Zero To Money Making Website & Wordpress Authorities. Connect with Trevor on Google+