I was in this industry when people were starting to throw around the phrase Web 2.0. Video marketing was in its infancy, Facebook was only for college students, and MySpace was where you sold things to a 12-year-old. Along with my time in the industry, social media has grown from a conversation we had with clients, but didn’t really worry about, to an intensely competitive and important form of marketing.

As we traveled through the lifespan of social media marketing to date, we heard and said a bunch of phrases like, “revenue tracking isn’t really possible here” and “your revenue is in the engagement.” A quote that has stuck with me for years is from Lee Odden of Top Rank Marketing. He said at a PubCon about 5 years ago, “You don’t ask the phone company to report on the ROI of your telephone.”

From my perspective, I think Social Media serves multiple purposes in a business plan. It allows an easy and public form of customer service communication. This can be an invaluable asset to a business.

Social Media: Ubiquitous & Measurable

It has become widespread, and almost expected, that a company have a Facebook or Twitter page. Comcast empowers its customer service agents to keep in touch with consumers. Dell works to keep in contact with clients via Twitter and Facebook. Many brands online will give a consumer with an issue a way to contact a person that can help them resolve their problems. Consumers now expect to have this avenue of communication.

Social media is also a format to engage in push or pull marketing. You can push your products and ideas out to many people via very robust targeting options, or pull consumers into you concepts and products based on engagement and explanations within the platform. If we look at it from the 10,000 foot view, social media meets a lot of marketing needs on one platform, something most other platforms can’t boast.

Measuring engagement and revenue has historically been a real pain when it comes to social media campaigns. In the last few years, analytics platforms have done more to make these features available, but it’s still not as simple as revenue tracking from a PPC ad or an organic listing.  There are some custom reports and filters that can make your life easier, and the platforms themselves are developing easier-to-use reporting features as well.

Custom Reports – Revenue

I use a few custom reports that make my life easier in understanding social media’s impact on my clients’ sites. One I found recently takes the Google Analytics Social Report and pulls together goal completion and revenue data for each social network. You can, of course, pull this data from the standard reporting with some clicks and filters, but what I like about the custom report is having it at my fingertips, which I can then easily add to my Analytics dashboard.

I found this on my go-to site CustomReportSharing.com. and it was shared by the amazing Annie Cushing. This report – simply called the “Social Networks Report” – can be installed by clicking on the link and choosing which analytics profile you’re working with. Here are the differences:

Standard Social Networks Report:

Custom Social Networks Report:

 

Custom Reports – Engagement

Measuring engagement from social media is also an important tool. With some brands and tactics, social media visits can incite a higher bounce rate than a normal organic or PPC click. Understanding that this is happening, and why it is happening is important.

Here’s the crux of the issue – to get Google Analytics to track Social Engagement with more in-depth data, you need to do some fancy coding within your analytics script. This isn’t always within our skillset, or ability – so how do we solve this problem? I built a very simple, but easy to implement custom report that will show engagement data only from social sources. I basically took Avinash Kaushik’s Page Efficiency Analysis Report, revamped it for social networks, and included revenue and adjusted goal completion metrics.

I call this the Social Engagement a la AK Report (click on the link to add it to your Analytics custom reports).

 

The benefit here is to see the data that matters to me. You can edit this custom report to include the metrics that are most important to you!

Get Onboard With Social Networking

I think it’s time, if you haven’t already embraced it, to get on board with social networking. Many who read this will be pros, but many may not have even started down the road. This is for those who just aren’t sure if it’s worth the time investment. I think it’s past time; social media is not going away.

How deeply you’re involved is directly dependent upon your industry and the demands of your audience, but we’re even seeing healthcare information discovery shift to social media, which is a highly personal and private niche – and it’s moving to embrace social media very quickly. In the new year, take a look at your strategy and use these reports to make adjustments and gather information about how well social media has, and can, work for you.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Beginner | Channel: Analytics | Google: Analytics | How To: Analytics | Search & Analytics

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About The Author: is the co-founder of Ignitor Digital, along with long-time colleague Mary Bowling. At Ignitor, Carrie tackles tough technical SEO roadblocks many small business owners don't even know they have. Her experience with analytics and troubleshooting helps her get to the root of issues. When not working, Carrie loves to cook for friends and family, hang out with her pretty awesome kids, and read books that have little-to-no educational value! You can also follow Carrie on twitter, @carriehill.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://nickfrancedesign.com/ nfrance

    Great stuff, Carrie! Thank you for the info and the resources.

  • treepodia

    “You don’t ask the phone company to report on the ROI of your telephone.” One quote to remember.
    Thanks for sharing the valuable tools as well.

  • disqus_OAJ5YhfSg4

    Hi Carrie. I am a college student pursuing a BA in Writing and have recently discovered that I love the online world! I have realized that I can marry my writing skills to a social media career, so I have been trying to learn as much as I can about sm. While I understand the overall basics of social media platforms and how to use them, and about how to develop a social media strategy, I am less informed when it comes to social media metrics and analytic programs. This article is the first article I’ve seen that provides an option. Anyhow, may I ask you two questions? 1. Does the role of tracking and reporting sm data analytics fall upon the shoulders of the sm coordinator? or the marketing dept.? or the IT dept.? 2. I am very confused about software data “amassing” programs. Can you shed some light on how I would go about finding a service that pools all my metrics into one spot? Or are companies using a few different programs and then drafting their own tracking spreadsheets? I have no idea about what I need to learn or where to start when it comes to measuring data. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Amy Cygan

  • Guest

    I really enjoyed this article! Metrics are important and social media should be treated as an important stream marketing. Using such tools (especially when they provide industry benchmarks) should be a wake-up call that not just anyone should be monitoring your social media pages. Companies should be looking for individuals with professional experience with strategic marketing to fill these roles rather than assigning interns or recent college grads. We need to remember social media has an enormous impact! Thanks again for a great read!

  • Lauren Waters

    I really enjoyed this article! Metrics are important and social media should be treated as an important stream marketing. Using such tools (especially when they provide industry benchmarks) should be a wake-up call that not just anyone should be monitoring your social media pages. Companies should be looking for individuals with professional experience with strategic marketing to fill these roles rather than assigning interns or recent college grads. We need to remember social media has an enormous impact! Thanks again for a great read!

  • http://www.facebook.com/carrie.hill1 Carrie Hill

    Hi Amy – thanks so much for your comment and your questions. Here are my nutshell answers :)

    1) Tracking and reporting should fall toa person that understands the metrics and impacts of those metrics. This absolutely eliminates the IT dept. NO way! If the head of the marketing department “gets it” then by all means their department can report on it. I prefer having the social media expert create the report, then present it for discussion within the marketing department – making sure everyone is on board with the impact and the game plan (data is just data unless you do something with it.) Then the marketing manager can present to the c-suite if that’s how your company works. Generally, the biggest impact is made if someone who is passionate about the platforms, data and strategies creates and presents the information. Think of the game “telephone” and how lost the real meaning gets as the info is passed from person to person.

    2) Data Analytics is a key component to making sure you’re understanding your business and marketing efforts. Many use multiple forms of tracking – as one generally isn’t 100% reliable. For example, I use Google Analytics but I also use Facebook Insights and for usability, CrazyEgg or some similar eye tracking/user behavior analysis program. Don’t become bogged down in only using one thing. Also it’s good to look at new offerings as they come out, so you are confident the tools you ARE using are the best available to your business, and your budget.

    Again – thanks for your great questions!
    ~Carrie

  • http://www.facebook.com/CherylRuan Cheryl Ruan

    Great article! Social Engagement, well social media has has come a long way from where it was a year ago. Over 60 percent of marketers still don’t know how to measure social ROI. Companies especially ecommerce sites should be looking for a way to look at all these numbers in one simple dashboard. Social commerce has been slowly transitioning into where social can be justified. Social ROI comes into place with both social commerce and social marketing. Social ROI is made up of 3 different components Social Annex (http://bit.ly/12joLHI) helps marketers and companies justify social and being able to drive more conversions, engagement, and sales through social.

  • Guest

    Thank you Carrie for responding so quickly. I can wrap my head around your advice, so cheers and many thanks!

 

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