How To Measure The Real Value & Success Of Your Social Media Strategy. For Free.
WARNING! No fluffy metrics beyond this point.
The title of this guide airs the question which niggles the minds of many a Marketer and CEO.
We all thrive on statistics, big data and proven worth. Over the years, Social Media has struggled to define itself as a business-focused channel which returns tangible, monetary results…
Quotes to sum up the thoughts of cynics everywhere.
By the end of this guide, we will answer these proclamations with ease. You will be armed with enough Social Media firepower to please even the most contemptuous of cynics. I guarantee it.
Let’s dramatically de-fluff and shed some light on crucial key metrics.
Metrics which anybody in business will be keen to hear…
Social Media Strategies Must Cater For Important Business Objectives
Any marketing campaign should align with your global company objectives, prioritising those which return results conducive to revenue.
These may include:
- Whitepaper downloads
- Phone or email enquiries
- End conversions (purchases or hot leads)
The ‘problem’ lies in appropriate measurement of these business goals – how do you attribute these results back to those Social Media marketing packages you’ve been paying for?
First off, conversions can be split into a couple of types:
- Micro conversions
- Macro conversions
Your micro conversions consist of interactions which are indirectly related to the monetary success of your business – but still have an impact.
These may take the form of increased website traffic, PDF downloads, video plays or social follows/likes.
Your macro conversions consist of interactions which are closely-related to the monetary success of your business – the goals which are highly likely/guaranteed to result in revenue increases.
These may take the form of hot leads, transactions or upsells from customer coupons.
Now we have goals and micro/macro conversions defined, we are able to recreate these KPIs in Google Analytics to visually measure each time a visitor converts.
Recreate Your Social Media Objectives In Google Analytics For Tangible Reporting
Method #1: Goals
There are numerous methods to set up goals in Google Analytics (GA). Covering them extensively would take 1000+ pages, so we’ll briefly dip in with digestible bullets.
Under your Admin section in GA, head over to the Goals tab:
Within this section, you are greeted with the choice of creating a template or custom goal.
Let’s look at a custom goal:
After allocating a name to your brand new goal, the goal type needs to be set. There are various options for this…
- Destination: This is the final specified page of a visit which defines a completed goal. For instance, a contact form submission may send the visitor to a thank you page.
- Duration: Useful for measuring the content value of a blog or similar, a goal defined by this metric will trigger if visitors stay on the designated page/s for a set amount of time or more.
- Pages/Screens per session: Useful for measuring the content value of a blog or similar, a goal defined by this metric will trigger if visitors stay on the designated page/s for a set amount of time or more.
- Event: The techy option – but nevertheless, most effective and granular. A visitor clicks on a social share icon inside your blog post, but how do you track this? Normally, you can’t. But with event tracking added to the website, this is all possible.
Destination goal example
- Your Social Media campaign objective is to send visitors from your selected social networks to a landing page on your website
- The landing page includes an enquiry form
- Once completed, the successful enquiry form sends the visitor to a thank you page
- It is this thank you page which triggers the goal
- By defining required steps in your goal, you can ensure the visitor passes through certain pages prior to the destination page. Optionally, the goal will only trigger if this condition is met. This creates a goal funnel – very useful.
In this instance, you will want the visitor to navigate through the landing page to arrive at the thank you page, so be sure to turn on and complete the Funnel field.
- Assigning a value to your goal is another great tool for reeling off snap-shot stats in stakeholder meetings. If an enquiry is worth an average of £X, attribute this value to the Social Media goal. These monetary totals will appear throughout GA for quick analysis. I recommend turning on and completing the Value field.
Be sure to use relative URLs in your goals.
To do this, exclude your domain name in the path:
Event goal example
- Your Social Media campaign takes the form of new content on the website, shared heavily via social networks. Your indications of success include:
- Visitors scrolling past a certain point on a page after X amount of time
- The sharing of your content via social buttons inside your content
- Visits to your company’s social profiles directly from call-to-actions within your content
With the relevant event tracking code added to your website, all of the above actions can be collected and stored in Google Analytics as visual data.
Event tracking is divided into 4 conditions: Category, Action, Label and Value.
Here is what your Event goal might look like when measuring visits to your company’s social profiles:
- Using a combination of goal types, it becomes clear to see that there is immense analytical control at your fingertips. Don’t be afraid to experiment – but only count the metrics that matter to your business.
- Event tracking can be cleverly used to group goal conversions into categories. Remember micro and macro conversions explained earlier on? It is possible to use Google Tag Manager to specify a group of events that result in a conversion – so if 5 specific events equated to a macro conversion, this could optionally show in GA as a single macro conversion for fast, tangible reporting. (Techy territory, but worth looking into.)
Google Analytics only allows 20 goals per view, so consider your strategy carefully before making final decisions.
Method #2: Custom Campaign Tracking
Have you ever wondered how much website traffic and monetary conversions a single post generated on Social Media?
Google’s URL Builder Tool this granular insight is all possible. And the great news – it’s pretty straightforward to set up.
- You have a new product launch and wish to promote it on Facebook, with the aim of driving sales
- Your plan is to post 5 times over the course of one week
- Effectiveness of the campaign must be measurable to prove ROI to the board
Firstly, you need to ensure:
- The product has a great landing page which is conversion-focused. That means obvious call-to-actions (CTAs)
- Trust signals such as SSL certification (especially for ecommerce websites)
- Minimal navigation to channel your visitors to buy (a completely separate design from the rest of your website)
- Professional, enticing imagery (another type of trust signal)
- Something to incentivise your potential customers (such as a special offer for Facebook visitors only)
Your visitors will be expecting to land on a page as described in the social post, so the two must align for things to work out as planned.
You know those times when you click a link and end up somewhere you just didn’t expect? That’s what you must aim to avoid.
Now the landing page has been planned, let’s implement a custom URL for campaign tracking:
Head over to Google’s URL Builder Tool and enter your full landing page URL into the first field.
In this instance, we’ll use:
Full URLs can be referred to as ‘absolute URLs’:
The next step is to complete the Source and Medium fields:
And the name of the campaign:
Once submitted, you will be greeted with a unique URL for your Social Media landing page campaign:
When you post your product to Facebook to let everyone know about the launch, be sure to use this link within.
Consequently, for every visit that derives from this particular Facebook post, Google Analytics will track them as campaign visits, which can be viewed on this tab:
Campaign tracking can be also used to quantify success of a collection of posts. Simply use the same medium, source and campaign tagging for each post in the desired collection.
“But wait, the goal of this campaign was to measure and deliver tangible results to the board?”
That’s easy – with the assistance of the conversion section:
This section provides conversion data for all visitor sessions as a result of your campaigns, stemming from your custom goals and values (which we covered earlier).
It’s the juicy stuff which your board will most definitely want to hear about!
Method #3: Custom Segments In Google Analytics
Google Analytics has another great tool which can be utilised for Social Media reporting: The Custom Segments tab.
Perhaps you wonder how many conversions are driven by Twitter on mobile devices?
Let’s first create a Custom Segment for Social Media traffic…
Custom Segments can be used in many views to provide a fast drill down of data specific to the channel in question.
As in the screen grab, give your segment an appropriate title.
Now select and enter:
- matches regex
- Facebook\.com|quora\.com|reddit\.com|imgur\.com|tapiture\.com|disqus\.com|9gag\.com|tumblr\.com|plus\.google|stumbleupon\.com|twitter\.com|linkedin|del\.icio\.us|delicious\.com|technorati|digg\.com| hootsuite|stumbleupon|myspace|bit\.ly|tr\.im|tinyurl|ow\.ly|reddit|m\.facebook\.com|youtube|flickr|pinterest\.com|^t\.co$|tweetdeck
You may need to update this from time to time, there will always be new social networks! But these are the main ones for now.
Hit ‘Save’ and your segment is good to go!
Combine multiple segments
To visualise Social Media traffic from mobile devices, select your new custom segment in addition to a secondary default segment named ‘Mobile Traffic’.
Your view should now look something like this:
Utilise Secondary Dimensions
To access more granular data for a specific social network, Secondary Dimensions are another little gem inside GA:
Head over to the Landing Pages tab as highlighted above.
Select Secondary Dimension > Social Network
Next, select ‘Advanced’ to the right of the screen by the magnifying glass icon.
You want to include Social Networks containing Twitter:
Voila! You will now be viewing all visits to landing pages from Twitter users navigating on mobile devices, including the all-important goal conversion data for each session.
Answer To The Cynics With Hard Hitting Pound Value Data
Remember those questions at the beginning of this guide?
- “Social Media is too fluffy.”
“Actually, the tracking data indicates 57 high-value macro conversions were completed by visitors from Social Media last month, equating to £4,800 value.”
- “So what if we gained 46 likes?”
“Agreed. However, due to the increased sharing of our new product launch on Facebook, our custom campaign tracking indicates we have made 128 sales of the product through the Social Media campaign, equating to £12,500.”
- “OK. We spent £400 on Social Media competitions and achieved what exactly?”
“By using event tracking we’ve established that 180 visitors who entered the competition then went on to visit our website and make a purchase, totalling £8,230. In addition, 64 of those visitors signed up to our newsletter, which equates to an assigned value of £940…
…to sum up, for a £400 spend we gained £9,170.”
This Brand Gained Incredible Social Media ROI
As with anything that is subject to scrutiny – it’s real world examples that have the power to quash any form of skepticism.
A popular coffee shop in America, Coffee Groundz saw the opportunity to break into their industry using Social Media.
Twitter was their platform of choice due to its strong presence in B2C markets – consumers love Twitter for its ease of reach where intimacy with big brands is not only possible, but encouraged.
To use Twitter as a primary, direct ordering channel between the company and its customers.