What's your Twitter ROI? How to measure social media payoff

Yes, you can measure the ROI of marketing via social media campaigns -- really

1 2 3 Page 2
Page 2 of 3

The minimal cash investment has helped justify the aquarium's efforts on this front so far, Clark and Santucci say. The cost to tweet about a new horseshoe crab exhibit, for example, is minimal -- in the tens of dollars. A worker can use an aquarium-issued smartphone to snap a photo, upload it and send out the brief message.

But the question then becomes, how much business is generated by a tweet like that? A special URL can be added to such messages to track the number of patrons who visit shortly after seeing the tweet. But it's harder to measure the degree to which the buzz inspired by that message and similar activities influences things like future sales of tickets and memberships.

Looking ahead, Clark and Santucci say there has to be a clear ROI to justify spending more time and money on social media.

From zero to 'infinite'

Of course, that special promotion did yield a concrete metric. The staff spent a minimal amount of resources to send out information through Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, but their efforts brought in $42,000 -- or 2,500 admission tickets. (Clark and Santucci both say that driving ticket sales is the big goal with these efforts.)

That's a clear and trackable ROI, Clark says. "We had zero sales through social media last year, so it's infinite growth," Santucci says.

However, he and Clark acknowledge that it's harder to count how many of those visitors would have come without the promotion and how many came because they conveniently received the discount. The tools to assess that part of the ROI equation aren't in place yet.

Clark says he's exploring what tools to use to track the number of people who post and share videos or pictures from the aquarium on social media sites, as well as track how many people chat about the aquarium online. What's lacking, he says, are tools to calculate how those activities translate into ticket sales.

Jeffrey Mann, an analyst at Gartner Inc., says businesses might use social media for communicating internally, for communicating with the public or both.

Leading-edge companies using social media to reach the public are starting to calculate ROI based on lead generation and sales completed, he says.

Companies using it for in-house work are trying to calculate ROI, too. Mann says they often measure activity, such as the number of log-ins or the number of posted documents and comments. But he notes that activity calculations don't necessarily translate into a hard-core ROI figure or measure the business value generated.

"A lot of people end up measuring activity, but getting from that to value is the hard part. It's very hard to measure value," he adds. "So there's still a bit of a gap."

He says companies need to calculate how much time and money they spent on certain tasks -- e.g., making a decision or designing a new logo -- before the introduction of social media and compare that with how much they spend now.

Mann says he expects more companies will have to calculate these costs as they invest more in social media. Having an employee update Twitter every now and then might involve minimal investment, but as a business's IT department starts to build its own applications or integrate off-the-shelf applications with the company's CRM system, the costs -- and the need for hard ROI calculations -- will go up.

1 2 3 Page 2
Page 2 of 3
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon