The days of warm-and-fuzzy thinking about social media marketing are over. Everyone, from real estate agents to startup entrepreneurs to Fortune 1000 CMOs are asking: "Does social media marketing work? How do you know?"
Confusion exists over the value social media provides because its effect on ROI is not always easy to measure. The 2018 CMO Survey found that only 23.3 percent of marketers were able to demonstrate the impact of social media marketing quantitatively.
So is there a way to prove the value of social media from an ROI perspective? There is, with Google Analytics.
Appropriately used, Google Analytics helps you identify which social networks have the most value, shows how social media users interact with your site, and ties social media to your bottom-line revenue through goals and conversions.
Follow these five steps to use Google Analytics and get more from your social media efforts:
1. Determine Marketing Goals and Objectives
Determine the overall marketing goals and objectives for your website — common goals include increased traffic, downloads, dwell time and page views — before tracking social media marketing data using Google Analytics. Then, decide which forms of social media would be useful to reach them.
If the goal is to increase sales from social media on a retail e-commerce site, for example, Facebook should be a primary channel. If the goal is to increase leads for a B2B company through the download of a gated e-book, consider the influence LinkedIn affords as a business social network.
2. Sign up for Google Analytics
You must have a Google Analytics account to access the treasure trove of data it offers. Visit google.com/analytics, click the "Start for free" button, and follow the on-screen instructions to create an account. Click "Sign in to Analytics" to access your account if you already have one.
3. Add Google Analytics Tracking Code to Your Website
You will need to add some tracking code to your website to gather data from Google Analytics. There are two ways to do so: Use Google Tag Manager or add the tracking code directly to your site.
The mechanics required to complete this step are outside the scope of this post, but you can visit Google Analytics Help to learn more.
4. Create Social Media Goals in Google Analytics
Once you set up a Google Analytics tracking code, add some social media goals. These should relate directly to the marketing goals and objectives you outlined in step one.
For example, if the objective is to increase website traffic by ten percent in the first quarter, set a similar social media goal to help achieve it, such as committing a certain number of social media posts devoted to driving traffic during that quarter.
To measure progress toward that (or any) goal's success, take the following steps:
- Log into Google Analytics and click on the "Admin" tab, then click "View" > "Goals" > "New Goal"
- Go to "Goal Setup" and add a "Custom" template
- Name your goal in the "Goal Description" field
- Select an option that best corresponds to the goal. Options include "Destination," "Duration," "Pages per session," "Event," and "Smart Goal" (tied to Google Ads);
- Add the parameters associated with the goal (e.g., if Destination is the goal, add the URL you want to use; if Duration, input the hours, minutes or seconds you require to meet it).
You can also add a "funnel" to track traffic from specific social networks.
5. Understand Social Analytics Reports
Once you complete those preparatory steps, give Google Analytics a few days to begin gathering data, and then use the reports found under Acquisition > Social to access information. These reports — six in all — are where the "rubber meets the road" regarding understanding the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.
Social Value Overview
This report allows you to see at a glance how much conversion value social channels generate. The Social Value graph compares the number and monetary value of all goal completions versus those resulting from social referrals.
This report provides you with engagement metrics for traffic from each social network — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and others — and shows which networks referred the highest quality traffic.
The Landing Pages report allows you to see engagement metrics for each URL and shows you the originating social networks for that URL.
Of all the reports, Conversions — from purchases to forms filled out — is the most important and where you should focus the bulk of your attention. It's where you can truly quantify the value of social media for your business. activity, such as a form fill or product purchase).
This report tracks traffic that came from someone sharing your site's content using a social media button (e.g., the Facebook “Like" button). These social interactions are valuable signals of user engagement that reveal which content visitors find useful.
The Users Flow report shows the paths social network visitors took through your site. It is a good way to see what content people navigate to from each social network. By comparing different social sites, you get a better understanding of visitor behavior.
Social media marketing is still marketing and, therefore, subject to the same statistical scrutiny as more traditional forms. Use Google Analytics, especially these six reports, to understand the value social media provides and make the most of your marketing efforts across channels.