You’re managing the social media networks for your organization and in your opinion, it’s going great. You’re connecting with influencers, gathering fans, and getting lots of messages. Perfect, right? Actually, no.

Social media has become increasingly data-driven which means that social media managers today must prove social ROI (return on investment) to their boss. Businesses use ROI to calculate dollar/cents return on a dollar/cents investment and social media is no different.

Let’s add another layer of complexity. Your boss probably isn’t up to date with the latest social media developments– that’s why I’m going to show you how to prove social ROI to a boss who doesn’t deal with social on a daily basis.

Social ROI- A Story

Many moons ago, prior to starting my social media agency Contentworks, I worked as a social media manager for a large financial institution. I was spending €3,000 per month on content marketing and social media.

One day, my boss (who didn’t get social media) summoned me to his office to prove social ROI. “The shareholders (who also didn’t get social media) have decided that it’s not worth spending money on social media” he declared. “It isn’t producing leads and they would rather redirect the budget to the sales team.”

I nearly spat out my coffee. It was producing leads, click-throughs, sign-ups, and registrations but here’s the thing– I hadn’t done a good job of proving it.

I convinced him to allow me three months to prove social ROI after which I got my budget increased to €5000 per month. Let’s look at how you can prove social ROI to your boss.

1. Set Social Media KPIs With Your Boss

The first thing you need to establish are your social media KPIs. Establishing KPIs is essential for you to understand where to put your budget and how to report on your activities.

Identifying your monetary investment in social media means attaching a dollar amount to your social media goals. Usually, with KPIs, you would measure Reach, Engagement, Conversions or Leads.

However, when it comes to proving ROI, reach and engagement are very tricky areas. Your post got super high engagement on Facebook but what dollar value did that bring to the company? This is how your boss will be thinking so you need to work with that.

Boss Tip. Get your boss involved at a ground roots level when setting your KPIs. Explain how each KPI will benefit the company and ask them to help you decide on the ones to focus on. A boss who is involved in social media decisions is less likely to question them later!

2. Establish CPC to Prove Social ROI

How much is your company spending on CPC (cost per click) via other methods like banner ads? How do your social media costs compare with this? Will your company enjoy better ROI from social media marketing compared to alternatives like pricey television commercials, radio ads, billboards, print advertisements or Google AdWords?

To find out, just log into your ads panel and look at your recent campaigns. You can see below that my latest campaign achieved a CPC of 44 cents on Facebook. That means that I spent 44 cents for every click through to my landing page. All the main social media channels provide this kind of reporting and CPC is a key indicator of performance.

prove social ROI-- low Cost Per Click

prove social ROI-- CPC

Boss Tip. As a social media manager, you may not be privy to the costs of acquiring a client via other methods. Your boss will be though. Banner ads can be expensive, depending on your industry sector and social media is usually a more cost-effective CPC route. Have a discussion with your boss about this and get your costs in perspective in comparison with other business areas.

3. Track Conversions with Pixels

If there’s one word that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your boss’s face, it’s conversions. However, in marketing terms this doesn’t just mean a sale.

A conversion is the process of getting your client to complete an action which you track through your analytics panel. A conversion could be any of the following:

Subscribing to your newsletter
Completing a contact form
Downloading an eBook
Adding a product to basket
Purchasing a product or service

But how do you know if the leads you are sending from social media are converting? You install a tracking pixel!

A tracking pixel allows you to set tangible and measurable actions for your social media audience. You will then be notified through your ads panel when a social media user has completed the action.

Here’s what it looks like on Facebook:

prove social ROI-- facebook tracking pixel

prove social ROI-- Facebook tracking pixel

Installing a Facebook pixel is easy. It simply involves embedding a line of code into your website which then connects with your advertising interface. Once installed, the pixel will track conversions, retention, lifetime value of the client, and many other factors that your boss cares about.

Boss Tip. Provide your boss with regular reporting on the pixel activity which is easily obtained via your Facebook ads panel. You’re the social media expert so use this opportunity to draw conclusions and recommend spend. For example, if your eBook ad pulled in more conversions than your video ad, show the numbers and suggest rerouting the budget.

4. Track Traffic to Websites and Landing Pages

It’s not always possible to track using a pixel… think tweets, G+ posts, or Instagram images. It is, however always possible to track your links. Here’s what you do.

Create customized URLs for every landing page, video, or web page you are linking to. That might also include eBooks, app downloads, whitepaper downloads, and newsletter signups. You can easily do this using the Google Campaigns URL builder which is effective and (more importantly) free.

Here you will enter simple details relating to the campaign. For example, the URL, where you will drive traffic from, and what the campaign is about.

prove social ROI-- UTM tracking

The campaign builder will generate a unique URL for you to use on the channel you specified. It will look something like this:

prove social ROI-- UTM link

You can shorten the link for Twitter (as above) and use it for every related promotion. The campaign URL will accurately track any leads that have resulted from that campaign. When they sign up, download an eBook, or take any associated action, it will be clear that you generated the lead.

Create a bunch of custom URLs and save them in a spreadsheet. That way you always have them on hand to easily insert into your tweet or post.

Boss Tip. Explain the process to your boss so they know that you are tracking all your social media activities.  This is a great way to prove social ROI.

As with CPC, you will also be able to follow the life cycle of the client from that link. For example, if a client signs up for an eBook but then does not purchase you can look at why that is. Did your sales team call him? Was the eBook content good enough? Was there a problem with your signup form? Understanding the sales funnel is key.

5. Provide Super Clear Reporting

If you are reporting to a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) then know one thing. They are very busy and don’t have time for long waffling explanations.

Your CMO oversees every area of the marketing department and social media is just one piece of the pie. That means your boss needs clear and visual reporting that can be easily absorbed or explained to shareholders. That’s where Agorapulse comes in.

prove social ROI-- using Agorapulse reporting

With easy and visual reports from Agorapulse, you can display statistics for all your channels. You can highlight key areas and customize dates.

Your reports are also showing your boss just how much you have achieved throughout the month. Yes, you can definitely brag a little! For example, below you can see that Contentworks published 36 posts in the past month:

prove social ROI-- reporting on posts

It also gained all these video plays and link clicks:

prove social ROI-- reporting ROI with Agorapulse

The Agorapulse reports can be downloaded as a PowerPoint file and contain super colorful charts, breakdowns, and recommendations that are sure to wow your boss.

Boss Tip. I recommend sending an end of month report to your boss showing your social media activities. That said, be sure to pull out the main points in your cover email just in case the report doesn’t get read. Key stats might be something like: Twitter engagement up by 28%, clickthroughs from Facebook 929 or Instagram shares 259.

team social media management

Being asked to prove social ROI to your boss can seem both annoying and stressful, after all, you have other things to be doing right? However, if you nail these basics you will be transforming yourself into a better and more accurate marketer.

Understanding your ROI doesn’t just benefit your boss, it benefits you as a social media manager.

Have you been asked to prove social ROI to your boss? Tweet us and let us know.

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