Chris Shaffer recently joined the team at Greener Grass Marketing as their Chief Inbound Strategist. He has worked with a variety of businesses in the technology, medical, education, and small business sectors. He is also a regular contributor to the Greener Grass Marketing blog, where he writes both standard content and a weekly column called Genius or Insanity. This column explores the latest and greatest in marketing tools and tactics. He can be found on Twitter: @CjShaffer1 or reached via email.


So you’ve built your Facebook fanpage, have the Twitter account rolling, and are cranking out YouTube videos like there is no tomorrow, but you probably still don’t have any idea how to show your boss (or clients!) exactly how you are helping their bottom line. You’re not alone! The good news is it’s actually pretty easy once you know what to measure and how to measure it.

Measuring social is a two part-process. First, you have to establish metrics that show your impact in the social media world. Then you need to really be able to show how those numbers help impact the bottom line by measuring its impact on their website.

Measuring Social in Social

To measure social media, all you really need to do is find out how many fans you have on Facebook and how many followers your Twitter account has, right? You could, but those numbers by themselves are pretty much meaningless. Let’s take a look at a few metrics that will really help to show what you do.

Growth and Engagement Velocity:
Instead of simply reporting the number of fans or followers you have each month, take a look at your growth rate. By viewing and reporting this as a percentage instead of a flat number (i.e. 20% growth versus 50 new fans) it becomes easier to measure changes in activity as your fan base grows. This same concept can be applied to fan engagement (likes, comments, retweets) to show month by month changes.

When you combine these measurements, it becomes extremely easy to see how changes in what or when you post impact your networks. For example, if your engagement and growth velocity drop 20%, it is very easy to go back and see what you did differently this month versus the month before and fix it.

Reporting the number of times your company or product was mentioned in social is another great way to demonstrate value to your boss or client. By using a free tool like Social Mention to monitor mentions, you can not only show how many times you were mentioned, but also the sentiment and influence of those mentions.

Share of Voice:
While mentions of your brand are a powerful metric on their own, they become an even better metric when compared to the total mentions of your industry as a whole. This is known as Share of Voice (SOV). SOV helps show how popular your brand or product is in social media compared to the industry average or even in relationship to competitors.

Measuring Social Across the Web

So now you can wow your boss/clients with what you are doing in social media, but the part most people leave out is how their social activity actually impacts the bottom line. Social media marketing isn’t designed to keep people on Facebook or Twitter forever. It’s designed to eventually drive them to your website to read something, sign up for something, or buy something. (Yes, I know saying the point of social is to get people to “buy” something is frowned upon, but it’s the truth.)

Setup Goals for Your Website:
While most websites have some analytics installed (I strongly recommend Google Analytics), most companies neglect to utilize the goals function. By digging through your (or your client’s) website to find any place where people perform an action like reading an article, leave their email address, download a report, or even buy fluffy socks, you can identify goals to be tracked by the analytics software.

Establish Values:
Once the goals are set up, it is important to assign a dollar value to each of them (remember, dollars are really what matter in the end). For example, if one out of every ten people who download your free report on making better cupcakes end up buying your $10 cookbook, each free report download would be worth $1.

If you don’t know what your current conversion rates are — maybe because your site is new, or the IT guys just don’t like you — just assign the value of $.01 to each goal you don’t know. Showing even this bare minimum value contribution is better than expecting your boss or client to assume you are contributing value (and we ALL know what assuming does).

Once you have established your goals and their values, all you have to do is sort the site visitors who completed them by how they entered the site. You will be able to show exactly how much social media helps to drive dollars to the bottom line.

As much as most of us in the social media world would hate to admit it, for the majority of businesses, dollars are really the metrics that matter in the end.