The number one question coming in from social media managers across campus is how to quantify what we do. Especially with annual reviews coming up, many bosses and administrators want to know – what is the return on investment (ROI) for our social media presence?
Before you read the answer, watch this. Gary Vaynerchuk is co-founder and CEO of a social media brand consulting agency, VaynerMedia. In his provocative keynote at the Inc. 500|5000 Conference Vaynerchuk turns the question on its head. “What is the ROI of your mom?” he asks. (A clip of that presentation is here but be warned, he uses foul language that may be NSFW.) Those who use traditional media are seldom asked to quantify, but print materials, tv/radio spots and websites continue to be produced. Social is, in some ways, being held to a new standard. The good news is that many of the sites we use are rich with data, as long as you know where to look.
My advice when faced with the ROI question: combine anecdotal evidence with data. Throughout the year, keep a running list of successful interactions you have had on social. Actual examples of human interactions are meaningful. Has social helped your office communicate with students, staff, faculty, alumni? Prove it. Tell that story. (i.e. – one of my favorite examples from our Boston College Facebook page, is when a wall post from a BC alumna helped to fill the library shelves in a New York City school thanks to the donations from BC Eagles around the country.)
Stories are nice, but most managers also want to see proof. If you have had your social channel for more than a year, it is helpful to provide the year-over-year numbers – comparing not only fan count, but user engagement. Find a peer school or department and compare yourself through self audit. (Here is a great piece that explains some of the key social metrics to seek out: Social Metrics 101.)
Although Google Analytics is arguably the king of analytical tools, here are a few other resources that can fit all our budgets (read: free) and provide rich data points.
Tool #1: Simply Measured provides beautiful free reports for social channels on some of the platforms where analytical data might not be obvious (read: Instagram, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest).
Tool #2: Tweetreach is a good resource to quantify a Twitter campaign. If you have a hashtag, this might be well worth the time to check out.
Tool #3: Want to experiment with posts outside the work day? Try using the Facebook Pages App. Here are a few of the easy steps to schedule posts (and don’t require the monthly charges from social media software companies.) The app comes complete with Facebook’s insights.
What tools do you find most helpful as a social media administrator?