Guest Post by Teresa Sizemore, Blogger at Bluefire PR

While a high percentage of businesses engage in social media marketing, many don't understand how to measure returns and mold strategies. A Fournaise Marketing Group report illustrated the disconnect between business and marketing when it found that 73 percent of CEOs didn't trust marketers, due in part to marketers talking about things like branding and social media without being able to tie business data back to marketing efforts. Measuring the impact of social media endeavors on business isn't that hard, though, and looking at the right numbers can help you understand where your efforts should be concentrated.

Per-Link Drivers

It's important to understand where your traffic comes from. SEO expert Nichole Kelly recommends an identification process for all links. Using Google Analytics and a Google Analytics URL Builder, you can create links with three data points embedded, enabling you to track the response to every unique link. This provides feedback on what interaction on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites drove the traffic to your page. First, you record the link information in a database; then, you watch for referral data on Google Analytics, transferring matching numbers to the database. Suddenly, you know that the picture you posted generated dozens of clicks and purchases, while all those funny statuses didn't generate any follow up by consumers.

Google Analytics URL builder can also be referred to as UTM parameters. Bizible tracks these parameters inside Salesforce, allowing businesses to match revenue to social links and posts. Bizible's reporting tools allow marketers to easily compile social media and ROI, putting CEO's at ease. 

Social Equivalent Advertising Value

Social media engagement that doesn't result in traffic to your website isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're looking to maximize brand recognition across a diverse audience. Tourism Ireland developed a way to track engagement on Facebook to determine the cost of consumer interactions. By tracking the number of views every social media post received, the number of interactions such as clicks and likes, and the number of shares, Tourism Ireland could attach a per-interaction value to social media efforts. You can do the same: Keep track of the hours and labor costs spent maintaining social media pages. Divide those costs over the number of interactions received, and you might be surprised to see that links, shares, and other social media leads end up costing you mere cents. You can equip your team with a high-speed Internet connection so it can track social media figures that update rapidly.

Sales Conversions and Social Media History

Traffic and conversion history on your site should never be viewed as a single data point. Instead, look at the overall story associated with a user. If you're using IP tracking and URL data points, then you can see when and how a person first entered your site. Today, a user may have searched for your site on Google, followed the link, and made a purchase. If you go back in your traffic history, however, you may see that a few days ago, that same person originally found your site through Facebook. According to SEO analysts, the Facebook link should get marketing credit for the conversion. It may not be pretty, and certainly, no social marketing analysis is perfect, but spending a little time with the data can give you a good picture of your social marketing ROI.

Bizible, on the other hand, tracks the exact digital pathway of every lead that comes into your website. This is recorded in Salesforce under the Lead Insights section. With this new technology, you can stop guessing where each paying customer originated from and know which marketing campaigns are actually working. 

About the Author: Teresa Sizemore

Originally from Florida, Teresa's currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in marketing. When she's not studying or blogging, she can be found hiking with her two dogs.