How do you get to the true ROI of social media?

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Here are some tips:

1)   Start today 

Most social media (early on) is free.  If you don’t already have a social media presence, then read this post, and get to it as soon as possible. Create the basics (FacebookTwitterPinterest, Youtube, Google+, and Linkedin Company Page).  Try to keep search in mind when creating these social locations to include the full name of your business where you can. Create Twitter and Facebook before you create Pinterest – you can use Facebook to sign up on Pinterest.  Create a gmail account so you can easily synch it with your Youtube channel. All of these locations have intuitive interfaces

2)   Review data

Make sure that you record the date you started, and of course track all activity.  Your goal that you need to keep in mind is that you’re making a very qualitative endeavor (social media) into something as quantitative as you possibly can.  You must create benchmarks, and track your progress. A few

HootSuite - Statistics

HootSuite – Statistics (Photo credit: Search Influence)

simple ways to track your progress include leveraging tools like Hootsuite, or when tweeting or posting links.  Tweetreach allows you to analyze the content of your tweets and will produce some really lovely visual reports for you to share with your boss.  Also, check out TweetLevel from Edelman. They will compile a really nice analysis of your tweets along with a written executive summary. This will help you distill the activity when presenting your case.

3)   Review the competition 

This is easy.  If you’re at a small to mid sized business, I’m sure you have a lot of competition. Whether it is based solely on location, size, or direct

Snagit Screenshot under Windows

Snagit Screenshot under Windows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

competition – start researching.  Check to see if they have any social media presence. Are social icons on their website? Are they conducting SEM programs? Do they have a Pinterest board? Aggregate snapshots of all social locations using Techsmith’s Snagit, and present to your boss. This type of presentation will be sure to stir a visceral reaction in your boss. The reality is social media is here to stay, and I’m certain some of your competition are active.

4)   Generate great social content

Be sure to create a central repository of all the content you share via the social places – I recommend 37 Signal’s Basecamp. This will cost some money, but it will reap dividends. Sometimes after you post on Facebook or Twitter (and

Image representing Basecamp as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

your not tracking activity) it’s difficult to remember what photos, or video you posted.  Also, keeping a good inventory of this content will articulate to your CEO that you already have great content and that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to gain access to social media ready content.  The first step should always be to leverage your current assets.  Once those are exhausted, then start to create unique content. This can be as simple as walking around the office and snapping a few photos.

5)   Track Conversions

Now you need to start to make a case for your few months.  If you don’t already have access to your companies Google Analytics, then get it.  Google Analytics is fantastic for tracking the ROI of social media. You will be able to see how people discovered your site. If you’ve been executing properly chances are you’re going to have some traffic from the few social places I mention in step 1.  There is your proof.  All you need is some inkling that there is a possibility that social media generates traffic to your site.