Social Media

What is the impact of social media?

It’s been an ongoing battle for years now; that social media doesn’t demonstrate a return on investment. Ever more important that we reflect upon it as the year comes to a close; and strategies for a shiny new year come to the fore.

A friend and client recently asked me what she should ask her engagement team (read social media team) to report on as she couldn’t fathom why tracking a #hashtag was notable. Indeed, social media users are sharing more than ever – which is great news. But why is that meaningful for brands? What questions should we seek answers to?


Engagement orientated:

  • Is there a correlation between engagement and content type?
  • No. of tweets and similar
  • No. views and source
  • Are there certain photos or creative assets that do better than others?
  • No. of contributors
  • Timeline deliveries (number of impressions – and reach is the same thing – e.g number of impressions)
  • Hashtag usage – #socialmediaroi
  • Additional followers – across channel
  • How many times has someone marked a specific post as spam?
  • What types of engagements are the most popular (Hint: it’s probably going to be the lightest commitment – ex. a like or a RT)
  • What was going on in the user’s world at the time a post was made? I’d be wanting context here

Conversion orientated (I know right!):

  • If there was a call-to-action (CTA) on a post, did users respond in the desired manner? o Did they click the link to view my content?
  •  Answer the question?
  • Sign up for your newsletter?
  • Play the video?
  • Buy something?
  • If not, what did they do instead (if anything)?
  • How are social channels driving traffic to the brand’s website?
  • Where on the site did they land; are we tracking site entries and exits?
  • How about form completion?
  • Are we using conversion ads? What is the impact of them?
  • What amount of income generated is attributable to social media – even if non; exclusively?

Sentiment orientated:

  • What is the nature of the content-based comments posts receive?
  • What is the nature of the messages and feedback communities provide unrelated to content? Testimonials or praise? Complaints? Neutral items (like questions)? • What is the nature of the conversation about the brand (this requires social listening)? • Are there key phrases that we can pull out for consideration? Exposure (overlaps with engagement):
  • How many people saw my content compared to the number of people in my fan base? (not current followers etc)
  • What’s the average reach, per platform?
  • Is there a trend (like time of day, or day of the week, a particular show is on tv) where things are higher or lower than the average?


So, in a not so short response, social media return on investment is quantified by asking the right questions. Not, demanding it drive sales or engagement alone.