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When you’re using social media for your business you might feel like you’re not seeing the return that you’re after. But there are ways to measure what your social accounts are doing for you.

As more organisations use social media for business purposes they are investing more time and money.  This all points to the fact that they will want to ensure there is some return on investment on their commitment of time and money.

To date, there is no clear formula that can be used to measure ROI, frustrating business that wants clear measurement guidelines. Some argue that measuring social media is a waste of time as it can’t be done. And if you can’t measure your success on social media, some argue what is the point of investing in it.

Although social media ROI may be challenging, it is not impossible. Currently, most people want to measure social media using the same mindset and tools as traditional media. This will not succeed as social media is vastly different from traditional media so new metrics will need to evolve. In time this will occur.

In the meantime, here are some ideas that can be used as a basis to assess ROI. Although these metrics are far from perfect they provide a starting point.

Determine Costs:

At a very basic level, you can assess the costs of your social media strategy by determining how many hours are spent on social media activities and then multiplying these hours with the appropriate hourly dollar value of the person who is active on social media. This should provide some expense assessment.

Know the Purpose of your Social Media Platform:

When you know what your social media platform is being used for, then you will have some idea of whether your purpose is being met. For example, if you want to use the platform to create ideas, each significant idea can be a tick in the ROI box. If it is to provide customer service each problem solved is also a tick. What do these ‘ticks’ mean in dollar terms. Well, using the customer service example, what is the financial value of successfully solving a customer problem? If the issue was solved by the community and not by the customer service department, what is the value of this to the business?


Establish your goal/s with a starting point of information (data). This can then be used to measure the effectiveness of the goals over a period of time. Future data can be measured against this original data to measure the value of what has been achieved.

Soft Metrics:

Likes, comments, shares or followers are known as ‘soft metrics’ in social media. They are easy to measure but they are not entirely accurate. There is ambiguity in the numbers because there is no way to measure whether these are genuine ‘likes’ or  ‘followers’, or simply fake ones. However, they shouldn’t be dismissed entirely out of hand. They can provide an overall brand awareness evaluation that is difficult to quantify but has an effect on the social media platform.

None of these approaches are complete but are a starting point to use as business adapts to social media usage. As the business environment becomes savvier detailed measurements will be devised and tailored to specific platforms. Although measuring social media is challenging at the moment this shouldn’t prevent organisations from putting together a strategy.

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Anna Cairo

Anna Cairo

Anna is a social media communications expert. She supports businesses to increase their online presence through social media. Additionally, she also educates businesses around the impacts social media creates in the workplace and how to minimise these risks. She is a writer, researcher and author writing for diverse audiences on a range of topics. Further, she conducts workshops, presentations and is regularly asked to speak to lawyers around social media risk. Anna was recently nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2013. You can join Anna on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Cairo-Consulting/285887488090944">Facebook</a> or visit <a href="http://www.annacairo.com">www.annacairo.com</a>.

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