Social Media ROI

With social media being so very close to PR in the online space, it’s never an easy industry to provide direct return on investment if online redemption isn’t part of the buying cycle. There are however some key metrics to work with.

The first step to defining ROI is to define why you are going ahead with social media. What’s your motive for being there, the purpose? E-Bucks can do direct redemption of their products on sale right from Twitter or Facebook, so they can work on a sales return. A brand like MINI might work on PR metrics such as number of brand mentions or engagements, as cars can’t just be bought directly online. Either way, you have to measure against your purpose.

Let’s dive into a few measurable metrics:

1) Sales metrics – CPA (Cost per acquisition). Direct redemption or click-through to your online sales site, means that you can directly relate number of sales (lifetime revenue from client) from how many clicks were sent through from social channels to signing up and purchasing on your website. This is the ideal metric but not everyone is in a direct online sales space.

2) PR metrics – Engagement (number of conversations had) is another metric. This can be tied in total number of online brand mentions. You want your brand to be talked about, positively, by everyone, but mostly influencers. Social media is all about engagement and influence, so these metrics of number of mentions, mentions by influencers and engagements are a powerful measurement. You can also measure your mentions against your competitors to see, ‘share of voice’.

3) Reputation metrics – Brand mentions & reputation score are predominantly used in reputation reports, but with modern ORM software, reputation becomes just as important in the social sphere as it does in the traditional media sphere. Your return metric could be to raise your online reputation score through various strategies.

Now let’s look at the non-measurable esoteric metrics:

I like to call this “fairy dust”. What is the return on investment for positive reviews? What is the return on investment for friends referring friends to your twitter handle for help, deals, conversation? Recent research (Techcrunch 29 May) stated that respondents were 60% more likely to purchase that brand of product if the brand answers their questions on Twitter.

I’ve seen numerous people chose FNB over other banks only because of @RBJacobs. This sort of thing is hard to measure, and it’s really more just a good dab of fairy dust. You’ll know when you’re doing it right.

I’ve been at the talks and I’ve said it myself, if your brand isn’t engaging on social media you’re falling behind. With the immediate friends network opinion having such a large effect on buying decisions for the generation Y, the choice of this generation to deal with brands via electronic methods, strengthens the argument to have an excellent social media experience for your consumers.

There’s a host of times I’ve surprised consumers by answering their questions quickly, or jumping into a conversation on Twitter (running one of the brands I manage) when they least expect it, only to surprise and delight them. Most times getting a positive #brandplus or “this is why I chose X brand” response.

These are not as much of a return as it is a reason, but the positive effect on the consumer from the social engagement with the brand is a big component of the return on investment to brand. Positive interactions on these platforms create brand-love or at least meet an expectation from others that a brand should be there, in turn keeping positive perception.

With many metrics measurable, and some not so measurable, the argument is not whether or not to venture into social media because the ROI is or isn’t there. It’s not a direct marketing channel, so get your minds out of that gutter, think of it as an engagement platform and change your metrics from, “number of spam tweets sent” to, “number on customers helped, converted, conversed with”.

Start taking Facebook mobile seriously

Facebook has 3.8 million unique users in South Africa. Of these 3.8 million users, 2.5 million access the site via both web and mobile, with 0.5 million using mobile only. This mobile-only number is significant for two reasons: it’s already a big number and, more significantly, it’s the area that is likely to see the biggest percentage growth in South Africa. The 2.5 million ‘web & mobile’ users are already demanding mobile functionality that matches their web functionality. It’s up to you to make it happen.

There is a boom happening in the smart-phone market with more handsets being released daily, mobile operating system wars heating up and network providers aggressively pushing smart-phones to their users because they mean more revenue across data usage. It’s a smart-phone future for sure. Vodacom recently disclosed that 1 in every 5 phones sold is a smart-phone and other networks similarly punt the smart-phone in every deal you see advertised. These days you just aren’t cool if you don’t have social icons floating around your new phone offering.

So what does mobile have to do with you and Facebook? Well, companies building Facebook fan pages focus too heavily on the web user experience and not enough on the mobile experience. We create tabs with flash (micro-site type) interaction, we have click-throughs on the status updates to websites that aren’t compatible on mobile web. Most handsets can’t even access notes posted, polls, or adequately read all the commentary on posts. Accessing Facebook via a mobile browser improves the situation slightly but it’s still alarmingly overlooked.

By ignoring mobile we’re ostracising an audience that, although not a large piece of the current pie, is still an active and growing audience. This audience will surpass the number of users who access Facebook via web, and it will happen faster in countries like South Africa with our incredible mobile penetration. It’s important for us to remember this when doing content and campaign strategy for these pages.

You need to start catering for the mobile Facebook user with as much care as you would a web user. To get you started, here are some tips you can work on immediately:

  • Status updates:
      o If you’re posting links to your website, make sure it is compatible for mobile viewing
      o Create updates for your mobile fans only (something they could use while being “mobile”)
  • Linking to tabs / notes in status updates might mean the mobile users can’t use these updates at all
  • Direct URL’s to your fanpage from an SMS (Join us on ) doesn’t link straight to the fanpage, be aware of that


Mobile is definitely an interesting space right now. As more users access Facebook from their mobile devices we’re going to see more functionality made available and more opportunity for companies to offer a better user experience via the mobile device. Keep your eyes on mobile.