How to Use Analytics to Show Social ROI for C-Level Execs

The lack of hard ROI numbers has consistently been a top reason for skepticism amongst the C-level crowd. Fortunately, the proliferation of analytics across all types of the business now comes to social media.

In the early days, social was considered a novelty. Some brands dove headfirst into social content and earned some early results, but their efforts were unguided and undirected.

Most were on Facebook or Twitter just to be on it (many agencies told them it was a must), they weren’t looking at it as a source of insights or a customer service tool. Nearly all bigger brands now have active social media accounts filled with image-rich posts, but these efforts aren’t as focused as they could be.

So what’s holding back further company-level investment in social media management? The lack of hard ROI numbers has consistently been a top reason for skepticism amongst the C-level crowd. Fortunately, the proliferation of analytics across all types of the business now comes to social media.

Armed with new levels of insight, social media managers can better convince top executives that aren’t “in the know” that social isn’t an afterthought, but a channel that can shape the entire brand strategy.

Management needs summarized data

When C-level executives are asked to consider a new initiative (or expand an existing one), they typically want a summary of the key points and metrics. Before presenting the need for social activities, managers need to isolate cold hard numbers that show how customers are engaging on social media and encouraging others to follow or make purchases from your brand. This deeper level of social metrics requires an advanced platform such as the recently launched Insights service from social media analytics firm SumAll.

Presenting data in a clean and concise format is needed when you’re advocating for social because it quantifies what has traditionally been viewed as a pure brand awareness play. And it’s leaps and bounds better than the old way of simply relaying the total number of social followers or “likes.” 

The downstream benefits of indirect ROI

Social media is not only a great channel for informing and entertaining your customers, it also provides you with valuable insights about your customers. It’s not simply targeting (like traditional marketing methods), but is instead a more organic way to find those people that are engaged with your brand.

With new social media analytics tools such as Insights, brands can see detailed information about social media performance. The platform offers several data points, including the time and date your social content gets the most action, audience responsiveness scores, leading hashtags, and can pinpoint your most engaged followers.

This detailed information about your customers/audience offers significant “indirect” ROI. This means the ROI of the social campaigns comes when the audience insights are translated into other marketing channels. Armed with detailed knowledge, marketers can use social analytics data to develop an entire marketing plan. It informs all of the other facets of your marketing strategy, therefore driving benefits across the entire organization.

Compare social campaigns to TV campaigns and other strategies which are nearly impossible to measure (changes are coming in this arena) and therefore do not offer views into the customer demographics. Understanding the “who” from social audiences will allow you to offer refined and targeted email, advertising, and SEO campaigns. Used properly, the insights coming from social media will sculpt the entire brand image as it appears in every other channels.

Move beyond vanity

In marketing, there are a considerable amount of “vanity metrics.” These data points are easily gained, but they aren’t significant. A powerful social media measurement tool helps companies move past meaningless vanity stats such as the number of likes and followers which are easily inflated and don’t point to real engagement. The right data points can show social is a viable channel to drive sales, engagement, and brand identity, making the need for social an easy sell to the C-level execs.

Scott Pollack leads business development at SumAll, a connected data platform that lets businesses see all of their data in one place.  Previously he worked on partnerships in the social, television, and small business sectors at American Express. For more information about Insights, click here.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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