Measuring and defining the ROI of a social media campaign has been for many, the most daunting aspect of investing in social. This task requires clear definitions of functions and goals measured.

Definitive business objectives

First rule of thumb, every campaign needs to be based on an assumption that it will be beneficial to your business. Those assumptions can be broken down into actions (functions) and those actions contain variables that need to be measured. So I’ll say this now (and again and again)… keep records.

Six major functions

I’ve indentified six major functions that can be associated with social media marketing. They are traffic generation, link building / SEO, initiating sales funnels (customer acquisition) , customer service, brand building, and reinfocring sales funnels (customer retention).

Keep your metrics separate

Let’s start with a relatively easy example of a campaign and how to measure it. Brand A has no social presence but they want to create one for the company to promote product X. They have heard of ‘the wonders of Twitter’ and create an account to promote their brand and Product X. All they need to do is get one employee jabbering away on Twitter about the company and the product and hoping for the best right? Wrong. That is a waste of money and has no measureable results (because none have been defined!)

Is it working?

So let’s help Brand A out and define some goals for them while mashing up a little strategy to sort out the confusion.

Proposition 1 – build a social presence for Brand X
Proposition 2 – sell their new product

It’s immediately obvious that those are two separate propositions and as such, should be classed as two separate campaigns. Even though they are on the same platform and appear to have similar ends, unless the company only has one product or service, both goals need to be accounted for separately to accurately measure each one’s success.

Bearing in mind that these two goals ‘seem’ very similar because they are able to run side by side, keeping the metrics separate will save you a ton a work down the road trying to differentiate time spent on which campaign. This is so you can calculate the very tangible success of Product X’s campaign against the more intangible success of improving your brand reach.

Basic values

Breaking down your campaigns into their basic values are crucial for measuring the success of your actions. Here are the basic values that need to be assigned to a campaign (we’ll stick with the building of a social presence because that one is a little harder to measure and more challenging)

Brand Presence Campaign 

Overarching goals

  • Expand online brand reach by 20% (starting out with a perceived goal is crucial. Even though the brand has no real value for this goal, setting one that sounds reasonable at the beginning will allow you to have a benchmark for tweaking your campaign to suit your desires)
  • Increase overall product sales by 2%  (it should be assumed that increasing brand exposure will also increase product sales as an offshoot. And again, setting a reasonable expectation for this will provide a hypothesis that can be refuted or confirmed and underpin changes in your campaign)


Brand building


    • Gain 20,000 followers

Customer service


    •  Respond to 100% of mentions and thank you for all retweets

Continued customer engagement


    • Create 150 quality conversations with known customers every month


Time-period of campaign

  • 3 months

Time-cost (actual money spent to run this campaign)

  • 40 hours @ £X for the whole campaign

We can see that already, clearly defining our campaign functions, goals and investment into actionable points and targets has given us a tangible and easy to understand plan and is leading the way to an ease of measuring ROI on that campaign.

Defining intervals

You need to measure you efforts. Period. So defining set intervals when you can look at the work being done and the actual data coming though (Google analytics, links, traffic, sales, conversations, conversions, etc.) will help you tweak how you work. Depending on the length of the campaign, I would recommended not letting any more than a week go by without looking at your results. You’ll be surprised how much you learn about what is popular, what links have gotten the most hits, how many conversations have been started and about what, and what all this has lead to in actual sales or even mentions in the press.

A series of experiments

Your business is a great big science lab and your campaigns are a series of experiments that continually refine how your lab works. Without defined goals and expectations along with measurements of the variables you are working with, there can be no explicit progress or ability to determine ROI.

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