5 Steps to Proving the Value of Social

What impact does social have on your business? For some organizations, the answer can be murky, intangible, and difficult to define; for others, ROI, business, impact, and specific social KPIs are clear and scientific. We know that you’d prefer to be in the latter camp—and we want that for you, too.

Before you can truly answer questions around ROI, performance, and impact, you have to take the time to understand your social business objectives, how your social program contributes to them, and how you will define and measure success. Sounds simple, but there are many factors to consider as you begin to roll this out. We workshopped this topic with Spredfast's Senior Strategist, Christy Kirby, and are excited to share 5 key steps to help you confidently answer questions about impact, performance, and even the million-dollar question around ROI of your social program.

Let's get started.

Step 1: Set your objectives

Determine the business impact you want social to drive. Think of social as a part of your overall business story. This requires looking beyond your social goals and more broadly up to your business objectives. What are your top business priorities? From there, what are your top communications objectives? Now that you've defined success as part of the larger business story, you can start to develop your social objectives and success indicators to ladder up to that story. If you’re having trouble getting started, Spredfast’s VP of Research & Insights Chris Kerns wrote a blog post on common business drivers in social.

Step 2: Determine your success indicators

What are you going to measure? How do you define success on social? This step is actually the conversion of your broader objectives into tactical benchmarks and data points. If your business objective is to increase sales, your communications objective may therefore be to raise awareness. With awareness in mind, you can begin to think of meaningful KPIs for this goal, i.e., audience growth or increased engagement rate.

One thing to keep in mind: social at its core is about building community, building engagement, and building an audience base. If you prioritize business drivers too heavily, you might reduce the efficacy of your social program. Always keep a balance of business and awareness KPIs in mind.

Step 3: Determine your toolset

With your KPIs and benchmarks set, you are ready to start pulling the data. What's the mix of tools that you need to track progress?

Spredfast Conversations can help you pull content performance, engagement rates, paid performance, social care, and more. If you’re interested in measuring the business drivers that were discussed in step 2, i.e., link clicks, web traffic, or conversion, Spredfast Conversations just launched Next Generation Web Analytics, making it easier to measure conversion.

You can see conversation volume, trends, and measure sentiment using a listening tool such as Spredfast Intelligence. Sentiment can also be tracked by diving deeper into your social customer care requests to understand whether conversations are trending positively or negatively. Knowing where and how to find your data ahead of time will set you up for success.

Step 4: Reporting & optimization

This is about establishing your report cadence.

  • Cadence: Define key dates for when you're reporting and how often. If you already have an organizational report that goes out on a monthly basis, you may consider packaging social into an existing report. Just make sure to give yourself enough time to crunch numbers and formulate insights and opportunities.

  • Flow: How do you communicate results up and down the chain of command?

    • You'll start with an executive summary, which should be a brief overview of actionable insights or learnings that tie back to your broader business objectives.

    • After the executive summary, you can do a channel-by-channel performance card for PR, Corp Comms, Digital, etc.

    • Then you may build a more detailed report on top-performing content for your social teams, agency partners that are helping to craft content, etc.

    • Finally, you might include a campaign-specific recap for individual brands or business units.

  • Distribution: When you think about your reporting flow, you should also consider distributing in a similar manner.

Step 5: Always tell the story behind the numbers

Read between the numbers to tell the larger story while making sure your insights are actionable; are there noticeable increases or decreases? Explain the “why” and be sure to give opportunity to course-correct or amplify positive increases. This is your opportunity to build the case to expand social, get additional budget, or nab more resources. Be sure to show how your results compare to your overall industry or competitors.

Once you've done the work that we outline above, you'll be in a great position to define social ROI for your organization. You have the knowledge, credibility, and context to develop a thesis around ROI. After you have established your position, you can start the ROI conversation and confidently answer questions regarding the impact of your social program.

Want a deeper dive on this topic? Reach out to us to schedule a conversation with our strategy team.

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Unji is Director of Customer Marketing, where she leads loyalty, adoption, and advocacy programs at Spredfast. With a background in customer success, Unji is passionate about helping businesses thrive by connecting them with their audiences on social. As an almost-native Texan, Unji is a fan of cowboy boots, the outdoors, and warm Austin weather.