There is much debate about whether social media can generate a return on investment. It is certainly a hot topic given the increasing investment in social media activity.

As a social media agency we work with lots of brands, big and small. All of whom have different expectations from social media. Each initiative is different and each has a different set of expected outcomes. Without a doubt our experience proves that determining ROI requires planning.

Detailed planning. Really, really detailed planning.

We are presenting a case study at Media Pro this Tuesday. We’re hoping to demonstrate how you can extract the value of social media and convert it into meaningful figures that business groups can understand [and value]. We tell the story of how to plan for ROI through Sony’s Twilight Football activity which recently won a social media award.

The secret to proving social media ROI is based on three fundamental frameworks:

  1. Set out your measurements from the start: Plan what you want to measure in the minutiae. Set out the metrics (there are hundreds of social media measurements); determine the KPIs (key performance indicators) and finally outline how you will evaluate. Explore all the options and tie them closely back to your business objectives.
  2. Continuous measurement allows you to optimise: Social media is dynamic. It ebbs and flows with the conversations, the interests and trends. Continuous measurement enables you to spot the opportunities to enhance your return. And if you connect up your dots – such as your web analytics to social activity – you can refine your activity and hone in on successful initiatives.
  3. Evaluate in detail and set the benchmarks: There is very little detailed data on successful social media activity. But there is no reason not to create your own set of insights. Insight to inform future campaigns. Delving deeper into your initiative you can tie back ROI to specific channels or relationships. Did blogger Y generate leads with a higher conversion rate? did XYZ forum create further social media ripples beyond its own site? And how did these outcomes play into delivering a return on investment.

The value of planned measurement goes beyond proving the immediate ROI. It allows you to set the benchmarks for future initiatives. To understand the optimal social media activity. When we talk about the success of Sony’s Twilight Football, it is the initiatives that came before (over 4 years), the benchmarks and evaluation, that enabled Sony to focus activity and generate an ROI of €12.5m.

And if you are near Olympia on Tuesday the 2nd Nov, do pop in to see the presentation. It is free, and we talk more in detail about how you can plan for successful results.

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