As a marketer, you are constantly challenged with verifying the value of your efforts. Sometimes this is a simple task, by tracking communication directly to purchase behavior. Others, a deeper understanding of the social implications of your efforts must be taken into account to be able to relay the same ROI message. The latter is often the case with regard to social media forwards and retweets; this also happens to be the subject of my Blog Off II competition posts - socially relevant marketing value from social media and traditional marketing.
One area some have trouble tracking ROI is in the aforementioned "twitterverse" and "blogosphere." The executives in your organization might ask, "why should we be spending our time and dollars connecting and dialoging with prospects, rather than directly messaging them with an immediate call to action"? I answer them by saying social media does have immediate impact - via retweets and forwards.
How, you might ask, is this the case? First, I look at it from a sales perspective. Someone retweeting or forwarding your content is akin to them endorsing your message in a similar manner to the way a good sales call is an inherent endorsement. I remember being a young salesperson for a national auto auction group, and making a sale based off of a great conversation I had with a dealer. Even though he didn't give me his business, he made a call - on my behalf - and I was able to secure some business based off of his recommendation.
The point is, the plethora of endorsements received from content retweets and forwards can go a long way to building your credibility with people and businesses that have no reason to trust you, other than someone they respect validated your communication. This creates quality impressions.
Quality impressions are what I view as a more important tool than any other to measuring true reach. Reach, obviously being a traditional metric for marketers to gauge the potential effect of their communications, is important to understanding conversion rates. This can get us closer to a true ROI valuation C-level executives so ardently crave to loose the purse strings of time and money to your social media efforts.
To aid in the mathematical measurement of these phenomena, you have a multitude of tools at your disposal. Following is a list of some that can assist any marketer willing to invest the time (and sometimes a small amount of coin) to extract the value.
- Forward Track - Allows your to track forwards, blog impact and facilitate social media.
- Twitip offers a list of four different tools available for Twitter users searching for retweeted content.
- Tweetdeck offers its on solution to retweet tracking.
- Sitemeter is a tool that can be used to track the number of visitors to a blog, and the best two things about it is there is a free version and it's real-time.
So, the next time you're challenged by upper management to explain the value of your social media efforts, refer to the fact that being connected digitally is as strong a relationship builder as multiple dinners and ballgames with potential clients. Plus, it is less expensive and affords greater reach due to the high volume of information sharing nature of social media.
Thus, if you can explain a unique value proposition while spending the time to connect with your digital network you'll be well on your way to building measurable value from your social media impressions. What are some of your success stories and methods you use to track social media ROI?