Top tips for Efficiently Measuring Social Media ROI & Getting Strategic with Your Data | npENGAGE

Top tips for Efficiently Measuring Social Media ROI & Getting Strategic with Your Data

By on Jun 25, 2010


Measuring the return on investment for any organizational effort is a standard of doing business. Was the recent direct mail you sent worth the investment? How much is your online fundraising augmenting offline efforts? Was the social media plan you implemented worth the time you spent running it?

In a rapidly changing media landscape it can be overwhelming for organizations to know how to properly measure the various types of impact being made, especially when it comes to social media efforts. And analyzing this data for meaningful takeaways is something many organizations haven’t even considered at this point.

While the area of social metrics continues to evolve and grow, there are five main tips all organizations should follow when measuring social media activity for ROI:

1. Define success metrics before starting campaigns.
How will you know what campaigns are successful if you don’t know what success looks like? In the same way key performance indicators are outlined for website metrics, fundraising goals or advocacy efforts, define successful outcomes from social media and keep these top-of-mind while building a social presence and/or campaign. For example: define goals such as raising certain amount of funds on a specific social fundraising campaign or set a goal of getting a pre-defined number of people to take action. Specific and easy to assess.

2. Keep an ongoing dashboard of metrics updated regularly.
To properly highlight positive trends and insights pertaining to social media metrics, a regularly updated dashboard containing key metrics over time helps maintain reporting in a scalable fashion. In starting, define what metrics should be measured per social media tactic employed and ensure all meaningful elements are measured. For instance, if you are using Twitter as a key tool in your strategy Twitter followers, references to your organization and number of new followers each week demonstrate awareness growth. Retweets, referrals to website and donations sourced from Twitter illustrate engagement. Go through what metrics are meaningful to you (and no, these are not universal for every organization) and define them per channel/tactic.

3. Be realistic in what you want to track – don’t get lost in the data!
Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed in Google Analytics? Similar to your website, the metrics to potentially measure are endless, and social metrics multiply each passing day as new tools are introduced. Rather than trying to measure everything, start small. Begin with measuring the top 10 – 15 metrics and grow this number as applicable for the number of tools used and the complexity of your campaigns. This makes measuring less overwhelming and analysis much more realistic. It also ensures that you don’t put yourself into analysis paralysis and increases the likelihood you can realistically keep up with reporting over time.

4. Measure actionable items.
All the metrics in the world won’t do any good if you can’t derive actionable meaning from them.  A number of basic metrics like number of Twitter followers or Facebook “likes” are not truly actionable.  But, analyzing trends for noteworthy incidents helps for future optimization. For instance, if you see a spike in followers, you can reflect on the activity that helped create the boost. If you experience a surge in donations or web traffic, find what messaging was effective and replicate it in the future. If you discover top influencers and advocates, reach out to them to help in future campaign outreach and grassroots communications. In the same way you analyze and test email marketing and website activity – follow a similar approach with social.

5. Leverage existing online tools to easily track metrics in a scalable manner.
With so many metrics, finding each granular metric can be a time-consuming task. Where can you find number of retweets, who your influencers are, when you are being mentioned on Twitter, trending topics in your industry, etc…? With a little insight into readily-available online tools, managing you social media reporting can be built into your ongoing information gathering process. Tools such as Spredfast, Social Mention, and Twitalyzer can respectively help manage your social campaign calendar, send daily reports of activity, track click-throughs of URLs and highlight potential influencers to help spread your cause.  Don’t track each metric individually, use existing tools to help streamline this part of your work. It will save you time, and also help ensure that you can actually manage measuring and reporting with all the other work on your plate.

Regardless of your specific social media strategy or tactics, ensuring the right ROI metrics are properly tracked and utilized is a crucial key to success. It proves success, helps you learn how to optimize programs for the future and helps make a case for a place in your communications strategy.

For more ideas on tracking, as well as a sample reporting dashboard, list of metrics to consider and a complete list of tools to help you get started, see the below “Getting Strategic With Social Media” presentation with examples of the above, and strategy information from the Wendy Harman of the Red Cross and Jaime-Alexis Fowler of Pathfinder International.

Have your own pearls of wisdom for social media ROI measurement? Sharing is caring – leave me a comment to add to the list above!


From time to time, a guest blogger will appear on npENGAGE. Guest bloggers are industry experts contributing useful, relevant content to the conversation on npENGAGE. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, contact the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *