Sure, social media’s has had plenty of hype – but how do you prove that it offers true value, especially if you’re trying to persuade clients or management to invest marketing dollars in Facebook, Twitter, Digg or other social media campaigns? This session looks at concrete ways to measure ROI and performance of social media activities.

Moderator: John Mires, MediaVest

Q&A Moderator: Arthur Coleman (AC), CEO, OnlineMatters, Inc


  • Mel Carson (MC), adCenter Community Manager – Europe,Microsoft
  • Linus Gregoriadis (LG), Research Director (UK), Econsultancy
  • Charlie Osmond (CO), Managing Director, FreshNetworks
  • Ian Strain-Seymour (IS), Social Commerce Strategist / Client Partner, Bazaarvoice

(The below are Tim’s notes from the “Proving Social Media’s Value” session at SMX Advanced.  They have been posted during the session and will be tidied up later – more SMX coverage here)

Blog Partner Logo

Linus Gregoriadis

(Reporting on some of the key findings soon to be published in E Consultancy search marketing benchmark report)

  • 2/3 of companies say that can’t measure Social Media ROI as effectively as they would like but 65% of companies plan to increase spend.
  • Spend levels still small in comparison to search budgets

What business objectives does social media impact?

  • Sales
  • Profit
  • Customer retention
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Brand recognition
  • Brand reputation
  • Inc traffic to website*
  • Reduced costs

*This was the objective that most respondents were seeking to impact through social media

Social Media Sites Used for Social Meida

  • Twitter (81% respondents up from 3% two years ago) – mostly for brand awareness and reputation
  • Facebook (78%)
  • LinkedIn (52%)
  • YouTube (48%)
  • Many others. Digg dropping in emphasis.  Also need to consider review sites etc

Measuring Value and ROI.  How do you track ROI?

  • Clicks/Visitors (52%)
  • Branding (24%)
  • None (22%)
  • Sales (22%)
  • Leads (21%)
  • Page Impressions (20%)
  • This clearly shows that measurement is unsophisticated currently
  • Jim Sterne – measure according to business objectives, not no of followers.  Need to look at a combination of metircs and work it up into a performance metric
  • There is no simple formula for measuring value from social media , in the same way you can from search
  • Social Media is not a sub discipline of search!

Charlie Osmond

Problem with Social Media ROI – people approach it as a series of one night stands.  Should approach it on long term relationships.  Suggest focusing it on customers you have, not customers you want.

Type of Metrics

  • Web Analytics
  • Community Health Metrics
  • Outreach – to what extent are people talking/referring

Case Studies

TM Lewin

  • Off the cuff community – has videos on how to iron a shirt, what tie to with what search
  • 22% increase in time on site
  • People go into community are twice as likely to purchase

Vetsnow (Scottish company)

  • Built a community for the vets to talk about emergency and critical care (one aim was recruitment)
  • Expecting £20k+ recruitment savings
  • In first six months have doubled number of registered vets
  • 60% of vets sign in every day
  • Social media saves dogs lives!


  • Ran auditions for red coats on YouTube
  • Drove PR reach of 53M


  • Built community round a collection
  • Got people to upload photos round theme
  • Charity element (25% of profits)
  • Community was 4x more effective at driving sales than Facebook (JC Facebook better than almost all)
  • Conversion rate of those who engaged were 2x more likely to convert.
  • New campaign used Foursquare – got people to check in where the shoes were

Ian Strain Seymour

Social Commerce – what you are doing on your own site as opposed to on Twitter etc

  • Focus on Awareness, Conversions and Returns + Voice of Customer
  • Traffic
    • Visits etc “Basic component of awareness” – better than awareness, reach, impression metrics etc as they are people you have failed to get to your website
    • People coming in using review search terms is traffic social media can take credit for
    • Need to translate traffic into money by applying a standard cost per click to traffic [lot of disagreement in audience!]
  • Conversion
    • Identify people who have seen your social commerce program and then look at how it improves conversions
  • Returns – people who have read reviews etc are less likely to return products because they are better informed.

Mel Carson

Community Manager for Microsoft AdCenter

See social media is a two way tool – they learn from customers and they ear from them “Learn & Earn” white paper

“Involve me and I’ll understand” Benjamin Franklin

  • Launch of adCenter was negatively received.  Set up a blog and forum.  Asked for feedback, feature requests, gain beta testers, reduce customer service costs
  • Need to research where you should be – do you need a Facebook page?  Think through the costs
  • Like the opt in nature of social media
  • Value in search – additional rankings  – showed example of having 7 out of 9 for search for “B2B Social Media White Paper” (on Google too, not just Bing!)
  • Use lots of tools to monitor sentiment and buzz
  • Getting a lot of useful feedback, managed to get a meeting with Stephen Fry as a result of chance happening on Twitter – “stuff like this is priceless”
  • 7 Value Indicators
    • Measure growth and translate as “reach” (visitors numbers?)
    • Think how you are lowering costs e.g. £20 cost of standard call centre call.  American Airlines save millions because of Twitter.
    • Information and empowerment (better informed advertisers) leads to increased spends – AdCenter can directly track advertisers back to posts they have read etc
    • Internal education leads to external evangelism
    • “Earned Media” – Windows 7 launch got 221M Impressions – compare to buying banners
    • Think “Social Media Marketing” – Be disciplined to ensure you get joined up thinking
    • What the return on inaction – if you are not doing it, how much are you losing?


  • Recommended Tools? CO: free report on their blog of top 7.  Neilsen Buzz Metrics but for simplicity ScoutLab. LG: Don’t forget Google Analytics, Tweetdeck. Paid tools are arguebly better for workflow and sophisticated sentiment analysis.  Radian 6, Brandwatch etc.  E-consultancy also . MC: Use Radian 6 amongst many others – use a hotchpotch.  Microsoft launching a product called Looking Glass which allow you to overlay data e.g. sales (including offline).  See that social media listening will drive future ad campaigns.
  • Is there a minimum number before worth measuring? CO: Most important number is how many hyper engaged audience (the 1% content creators etc). LG: Spend is about internal resources, not media buys so important to work out costs internally.  Effort often under estimated.
  • Why didn’t anybody mention value of links? CO did! Panel agreed it was important.
  • How do you put social data into analytics (latent conversion analysis). CO: use excel etc, big problem MC: No perfect tool but Omniture quite good. Unica worth a look?

Tags: , , , , , ,