In a recent report, Adobe examined the oft-discussed issue of how exactly to quantify the value of social media. What they found was that when it comes to measuring the ROI of social media, most marketers are using all the wrong tools. In fact, the vast majority of marketers included in their study of 225 companies relied exclusively on last-click attribution to measure the success of their social efforts.
Last-click (aka last-touch) attribution is the form of tracking that most analytics tools like Google Analytics employ. It’s called last-click attribution because conversions are measured based on the most recent channel that brought a visitor in before they converted. Think of it like giving your most recent date credit for leading to your engagement rather than your first date.
The problem with measuring social media through last-click attribution is that social channels tend to engage people at the top of the sales funnel rather than right before they buy. Think about it … when was the last time you bought something immediately after clicking through a Twitter or Facebook link? That’s not how it typically works, right? Most customers discover companies through social media, then take some time to get to know their products or services — subscribing to emails or returning again through another channel.
So what should you be measuring to get a better understanding of the role social media plays in your business, and how do you measure it? Start by asking yourself these questions, and using these measurements, to stop the struggle around social media ROI measurement.
Is social media working to bring in customers?
What You’ll Need: First-Touch Analytics
Just as the Adobe report suggests, the most comprehensive way to determine whether your social channels have brought leads and customers into your fold is through first-touch analytics. In fact, in comparing the two methods, the study valued social media visits measured through first-touch attribution to be nearly twice as high as when measured through more commonly used means. Here’s a look at social media’s impact on HubSpot’s own marketing in the month of May as measured through Sources, our first-touch report.
Here you can see HubSpot’s social media channels (in teal) brought in a substantial number of leads, nearly 3,400 total in the month of May, and five customers. It also dwarfed our paid advertising efforts (seen in red) at introducing leads to our company for the first time.
Here’s another example of one company, Thermo Fisher Scientific, for whom LinkedIn brought in 3,804 first time visits, all of which they were able to track and credit via first-touch attribution.
What are my best channels?
What You’ll Need: Multichannel Analytics
It’s not enough to just know if social media is working to bring in new leads, you also need to know which channels are doing so most effectively. The most thorough way to get this answer is through multichannel analytics. While they all vary in their approach, a number of marketing analytics programs enable you to see a breakdown of which channels drove traffic to your site. If you are using, say, Google Analytics to track your marketing, it’s a good idea to use UTM tags in your links, which allow you to append additional information like what medium and source your traffic came from to a given link. For example, the following link was part of a holiday campaign, and traffic coming through it came from the social media channel Twitter.
If this seems like too much gobbledeygook for you, you can always use one of the free UTM generators out there. Or if you’re a HubSpot user, skip it entirely. Your links will get tracked without adding a UTM tag.
What’s my best social content?
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