For any marketer, tracking the success of a campaign is incredibly important not least to show the return on investment but to also learn the impact that specific activity is having, be it in online advertising, through an affiliate programme or PR. The ever-changing media landscape coupled with daily technological advancements has meant measuring ROI has become a particularly challenging task, but no more so than on social media platforms. Malcolm Cowley, CEO of leading provider of real-time performance marketing technology, Performance Horizon Group (PHG), examines the enigma of social media ROI.

The growth of fan pages on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ has meant brands and businesses have been urged to set up profiles and engage with fans and followers, or risk being left behind. The management of brand pages can be a daunting task, not only in terms of creating the right content, gathering fans and then engaging with them, but also setting aside the appropriate amount of resource and budget to ensure social campaigns run effectively.

And, as with any marketing campaign, brands can often have many different objectives for engaging with its audience via social media, whether it is profile raising, customer servicing, crowd sourcing or driving sales. In any of these instances, measuring the impact of the campaign and tracking ROI, is key.

A day doesn’t go by without updates to social media platforms, which means brands need to keep abreast of these changes all while understanding what impact they will have on content they are creating, posting and sharing. The role of social media manager, albeit an extremely new position probably created by most brands in the last five years or fewer, is therefore an extremely tough one as it combines two skill sets not naturally found in one person – a good verbal and written communicator who has a technical aptitude and willingness to embrace change.  Finding this specialist can be costly and difficult.

With all of these considerations, maintaining a comprehensive multi-platform social media strategy can be quite a large undertaking and a notable chunk of budget, yet still, few brands are effectively tracking their social media performance, why?

Until now there has been a number of generic methods for testing how well a social media page or profile is performing; fan growth, engagement and number of interactions, retweets and @mentions, as well as even more advanced approaches which  have been created to include tracking click-throughs. The evaluation process for these methods, which takes into consideration engagement levels and numbers of posts and retweets, are lengthy ones and require many man hours to collate the information. They also do not lend themselves to the effective real-time environment that we have all grown to expect in the social media world and none of these methods can accurately monitor the impact social media campaigns and day-to-day outreach has on sales.

Now available are more sophisticated measurement tools, which successfully track each ‘like’ or ‘follow’ to the point of sale, effectively monitoring the return in investment of every pound spent on a marketing campaign. This real-time measurement is especially useful during difficult economic periods, when big brand retailers and digital agencies are looking to effectively monitor their ROI in order to plan the next quarters’ social media strategy.

This leap in social media monitoring technology is great news for brands and agencies, who will no longer be wondering if their social media investment is providing good value for money. Instead, brands can build effective social media tracking into their performance marketing campaigns to not only monitor effectiveness, but also see where conversions are being made and if social media budgets should be reallocated, bolstered or reduced.

Case study example

Kgbdeals, the group buying site, is currently running a trail with Performance Horizon Group’s social media tracking software, ExactView.  Three main areas of Kgbdeals’ fans’ ‘Like’ journey are planned to be monitored on Facebook including all clicks generated through the ‘Like’ buttons on the kgbdeals website. The brand is also aiming to soon track all subsequent conversions generated after the user has clicked the ‘Like’ button, to gather an understanding of the ‘referral tree’ generated from a user’s ‘Like’.

Thomas Greiderer, social media manager at kgbdeals, said: “We want our social media budgets to work as hard as they possibly can, so by using ExactView to track our activity we can effectively plan our campaigns.  The end result will mean the most relevant deals are released on our social media channels at opportune times, to ultimately help us increase sales.”

Malcolm Cowley

Malcolm Cowley


Malcolm Cowley is Co-Founder of Performance Horizon Group (PHG).