Social media ROI: An expert Q&A

With our social media ROI webinar just around the corner, we've spoken to an industry expert about one of the industry's thorniest issues.

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social media roi

As we build up to our free webinar on social media ROI, we’ve spoken to one of the industry’s leading experts about the challenges of justifying social media activity.

Katy Howell is managing director of Immediate Future, and has helped global brands like Sony, HSBC and Staples with their social media needs.

We sat down with Katy to pick her brains ahead of her joining us on our panel of expert speakers in our webinar on July 12…

Katy, what is the biggest challenge facing marketers in relation to social media measurement?

Our recent B2B report shows that there are three main challenges (and we suspect it is the same for consumer brands too). Most dominant is lack of time, followed sharply by an under-investment in tools (and not just social media tools, but marketing technology too). Finally, a lack of skills is also a factor – especially in analytics.

How should marketers benchmark and evaluate their progress on social media?

I think we are all aware that ‘vanity metrics’ such as followers and engagement don’t serve the C-suite need to see business value. So comparing competitors for followers and likes is pointless. Instead brands should target performance against business goals and marketing objectives. Benchmarks should be considered alongside attribution modelling across all marketing channels. Not just looking at last interaction to sale, but where and how social meets the buyer or consumer along the journey.


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Increasingly, the social networks are charging for access to their data. Do you need an expensive platform (that has access) to be able to measure everything you need?

The perception that social media is free really hasn’t gone away. The reality is there is immense business value in social media, but not if you don’t have the right tools. If you want the insights (and rest assured, you do) then you must pay for it. The value of the investment goes far beyond social performance too. Insights lead to deeper understanding of your audience. It allows you to understand motivations, behaviours and attitudes. Smart marketers will add this to the wider planning mix and even share the insights across the business.

With the rise of messaging apps and ‘dark social’, is measurement becoming harder, or impossible in some cases?

Agreed, it is much harder with dark social. However, that will likely change. After all, the networks want you to advertise and spend money – they will want to prove to you they have an audience of value and want you to be effective and understand more about audiences. It will come.

In the meantime, using trackable links helps you understand site-side traffic, assuming audiences cut and paste your post into their messenger. Direct traffic and custom segments will give you some estimates and there are emerging tools to help too. Other than that, you are still somewhat blind until the networks cough-up the data!

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