Measuring Social Media Success Beyond Engagement

I have read one too many articles lately that claim you just cannot measure success on social media, at least not yet, but rather it's more about awareness, engaging loyal fans and customers, creating goodwill, etc. While, yes, social media is about that, it's also about RESULTS and yes you can measure that and I'll tell you how today!


At Step Ahead, after spending the last four years managing a variety of clients' social media accounts, we've developed a formula that we know generates results beyond the intangible results listed above. Here's our formula:



But HOW do you measure if that formula works?


What to Measure

First off decide what you want to measure. Here are some of the most common concrete results social media can generate:

  • Increased web traffic - to your site overall or to specific pages.
  • Sales! Yes, you absolutely can generate sales by following our formula.
  • Filling out a form for more information - maybe this is a Contact Us form, maybe it's a request for a proposal, maybe it's for a free analysis.
  • Complaints resolved - track how many customer service issues you were able to solve using social media. I can tell you it's pretty significant for Comcast & AT&T - much more so via social media, than probably by phone.
  • Email addresses collected - You can design promotions on social media to capture email addresses and allow people to opt in to receive your email newsletters or eblasts.

I don't know about you, but if I can show my client or my boss that I generated significant revenue for them via social media, I think I can lobby for an increased social media budget. So tracking is critical.


Tools for tracking

To accurately measure social media success, you need several tools in your arsenal.

  • A URL tracker - We use BudURL but there are others like Bitly, etc. Create a unique URL for each link you post via social media and track how many times people click on the link. This is especially important for Twitter, because many people use desktop applications that will not show as referrals links with your analytics program. So to accurately count Twitter clicks, you must use a URL tracker.
  • Analytics - We always use Google Analytics. It's free, easy to use and allows you to track what sites people come to your website from, what pages they go to, how long they stay and if that's longer than average for the site, where they're located, etc. Be sure analytics is not just on your website but your blog as well.
  • Tracking Revenue & Goals in Analytics - The biggest component of Google Analytics is it allows you to track REVENUE from referral sites. That's right! Set up properly, you can see how much revenue Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. are bringing you. Additionally, you can set up goals, such as filling out a specific form, and again track which referrals sites brought you the most people who completed your goals. Wouldn't it be great to be able to say to your boss: People who came to our site from Twitter, stayed longer than the average site visitor and bought more than the average site visitor!?
  • Google URL Builder - A great tool that ties right into Google Analytics is Google URL builder, which allows you to create campaigns within analytics. So for every URL we post on social media, we start with a Google URL, name the campaign and medium for whichever social media tool we are posting the link to, and then go and put that URL into BudURL. Now when we go to analytics, we can look up "Facebook" as a traffic source and see exactly how many people clicked through to our link, as well as track clicks through BudURL. 
  • Facebook & YouTube Insights - These are both great tools at giving you more of a breakdown of engagement, demographics and even what sites are bringing visitors to your Facebook page.
  • Manual - Some things you have to track manually like emails collected and complaints resolved, but just keep a running Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet and add in every email you collect (or use an automated system) and note each time you solved a customer service issue or received a request for more information.

Do you track social media success? We do! And we've found in one case $14,000 in revenue in one month directly trackable to Facebook for one client. Amazing. Yes, you CAN track results from social media and you should. Now, go get started :).

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Comment by Kizzy Bass on September 18, 2011 at 10:53am
wow thanks for sharing.
Comment by Lyn Mettler on September 14, 2011 at 2:28pm
That client was a group of hotels in Myrtle Beach - so those were room bookings at probably around $100 average night, so a higher dollar value. You can track revenue in Google analytics so you can indeed see if people from Twitter or Facebook are buying anything and even how much are they buying and when are they buying it. If you need help with getting that set up, shout!
Comment by Lena on September 14, 2011 at 9:20am

Thank you for your post. I think it is pretty accurate. I agree that if you can measure the ROI of your social media campaign with traffic and sales than you can justify it, but so often there is no good way to measure it. For example, twitter account or facebook fans. Do they actually buy anything? I am curious to hear about your client with $14,000 in revenue in one month from facebook - what do they sell?

Wall Decals for Kids Rooms


Comment by Lyn Mettler on September 8, 2011 at 1:54pm
Ces, Let me know if I can answer any questions for you!
Comment by Ces H on September 8, 2011 at 12:06pm

this is a great article, i still have to learn about using Google Analytics, actually I still have to learn a  lot. im just glad that reviews and sponsored posts keep coming. i wish i can also be successful in social media.


Comment by Lyn Mettler on August 26, 2011 at 11:12am
You're welcome! Glad it was helpful :)
Comment by Courtney Loquasto on August 26, 2011 at 10:53am
Great article, Lyn!  Thanks for taking the time to share your expertise...very helpful.   Courtney




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