There is no question the value that social media marketing can provide your business, with each platform offering different opportunities and benefits. However, many marketers still struggle when it comes to tracking the ROI of their social media efforts. You know that you are spending valuable time growing your social presence and impact, but how is it helping you increase your bottom line?

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) recently released this infographic that dispels three of the biggest myths around social media ROI. Below is our take on them.

(The infographic was made to tie in with their new guidebook Solving the ROI Riddle: Perspectives from Marketers on Measuring Word of Mouth Marketing. You can buy the guidebook for $35 and learn how to measure the increase in revenue, lift in brand perceptions, and track performance against metrics.)

1.Social Media ROI is measuring “likes” and “followers”.
This first myth may be the most common because it is the easiest to do. And if the number keeps growing, it means that your efforts are working and making an impact, right? But “likes” and “followers” are just one piece of the puzzle.

For example, looking only at “likes” and “followers” is like looking only at the number of subscribers you have for your eNewsletters. When you send an eNewsletter, you also care about the open rates, forwards, links clicked and bounce rates. All of those metrics together prove the efficiency of your eNewsletter, not just the subscriber number.

Remember that you also need to be tracking your level of engagement, and every social platform has a different set of analytics to gather. For example, track your retweets and replies on Twitter, monitor your Facebook Insights, or use Klout to see your overall score for social influence.

When tracking your social media efforts, you first need to examine your goals and find metrics that correlate directly to them. Common goals are:

  • Understanding what your customers and prospects are discussing about your brand and industry
  • Engaging with customers and prospects
  • Positioning yourself as a thought leader in your community
  • Maximizing the reach of your content
  • Supporting existing sales and marketing initiatives
  • Supporting recruiting initiatives
  • Building an online community
  • And more

Therefore, you need to look at all of the metrics associated with your social media channels, and more importantly, see how they affect your business goals. “Likes” and “followers” may show buy in to your ideas and brand, but do not show the engagement you are looking and hoping for.

2. Measuring social media ROI is the same as measuring traditional media ROI.
Social media is not like traditional media; there often isn’t a direct effect. Many measure ROI in terms of a specific timeframe. (For example, I’ve increased visitors to my site by x amount in x amount of months). However, social media ROI is slightly different. Trying to gain immediate, short term results shows a lack of understanding of the platform.

Social media marketing is about building relationships with your customers and is a long term strategy. Is one post on Twitter about a listing going to lead to the closing on that house? It’s definitely a possibility. But your presence and voice in the local community will also help you stay in front of customers long term, whether they’re looking to buy a home right now or not. Position yourself as the local expert on social media sites and provide quality information, and your social media ROI will increase over time as a result.

Keep in mind that you’re sending out an idea that is being confirmed through likes, retweets, shares, etc. The amplification of this idea can change a customer’s opinion about your brand. In social media it is more important to look at the amplification of your posts and the engagement that you are receiving through the different channels.

3. Social media ROI is separate from other channels.
Looking only at social media ROI can be detrimental to seeing the whole picture. It will not show the full impact of your social media efforts nor will it show how your traditional and social media initiatives interact with each other.

You need to look at the full picture and include social media in your entire marketing brand strategy which includes: lead and customer data, web analytics, marketing automation data, online engagement, website forms completed, account sign-ups, closings, market share, etc. Together, your metrics will tell you what is working best and gives you a more comprehensive understanding of your overall ROI.