How do you know if the money you’re investing into social media marketing is worth it? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. Since there are so many variables at play, formulating a precise ROI for social media marketing just isn’t possible.

Unfortunately, the success of pay-per-click advertising has triggered a mind-set that all forms of marketing must be accurately measured. Yet the fact is that social media isn’t exactly setting a trend when it comes to marketing that can’t be measured. What about television ads? Billboards? Radio advertisements?

In fact, most ‘traditional’ forms of marketing and advertising are invested in based on faith. We know that television advertising is effective, so we pay to create an advert, and then we pay for it to be broadcast. While it’s feasible to attribute initial spikes in sales to the advert, this correlation quickly becomes less and less relevant.

The success of television advertising becomes even more difficult to measure when we’re talking about high-value, occasional-purchase items – like a car or a holiday. The advert may be responsible (at least in part) for a purchase made 6 or 12 months after it were initially aired – yet unless we ask the consumer, we will never know the part it played.

Which brings me nicely onto my first point:

Ask!

When a purchase is complete, ask the consumer how they first heard about you, or what it was that made them choose you. Of course, you can’t force them to answer, but if you get lots of responses saying ‘Facebook’, you know your efforts are worth the time and expense.

Use Google Analytics

Analytics is my favourite tool for tracking social media ROI. It can’t give you the whole picture, but it can tell you who went directly from one of your social pages to your site, and then converted. It can also tell you who visited one of your social networks at some point before they converted – so long as all their movements were carried out on the same device, and on the same browser.

I’ve delved a bit deeper into how to use Google Analytics to measure social media success in this post here.

Utilise Call Tracking

Firstly, you’ll need to get yourself signed up to a call tracking service. Then you simply need to assign a different phone number to each of your social networks. Of course, this can’t give a complete picture of your social ROI. Call tracking can only track people who use that precise number to make a purchase. If someone visits one of your social networks, and at some point down the line makes a purchase through your site, call tracking will not account for this.

Run Social-Exclusive Offers

Instead of running an offer on your website and advertising it on your social networks, run unique offers exclusively through your social pages – that way, you just need to track how many people take you up on each offer to gauge the ROI of each one.

Alternatively, you can run identical offers over multiple networks, but create a separate landing page for each site.