Social media seems to be taking over the world. If you’re going engage in social media, you should do it well so that your association receives as much benefit as possible. But that’s easier said than done.
Here are some tips for measuring the ROI for social media for your association. Keep in mind that the real goal is increased member engagement, improved member retention, additional member sales or more non-dues revenue - not a viral video or a bunch of “likes.”
Identify your goals. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. And you can’t measure it unless you have a goal. Make sure you assign a number value to each goal, such as:
- Acquire 5 members/month via Twitter.
- Increase event attendance by 15% over the previous year.
- Drive 10 members to contact their state legislator
Resist the urge to set goals for a certain number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes; these do nothing to improve the bottom line of your association.
At this point in the evolution of social media, gaining insight about consumers and communities is the biggest benefit, even for the largest companies.
Build your plan. If you want results you have to have a map to get there. Create an editorial calendar and plan when you’ll be posting to social networks for each project or initiative. This sounds like a lot of work up front, but scheduling when you want to post certain content to each network helps you stay disciplined and keeps you on target. You already plan your events and other communications in advance. Simply do the same thing with your social media posts.
Take action. Put the wheels in motion. Listen to your members, respond to them, provide support, answer questions and tell your story though social media. Many times, you’ll be linking to additional content you have created already. Remember: don't simply post items and walk away from the keyword. You'll likely have members or followers respond to your posts or ask you questions. You need to show them that you are listening and reply to them.
Measure. Now you that you have goals, identify the right measurement tools. If your goal is new members or event attendance, your association management software is the idea place to track your progress. Run new membership reports or retention reports to gauge how your efforts are impacting your association.
If you’re seeking an increase in website traffic to certain pages or content, use Google Analytics to monitor your progress. Facebook allows you to track the behavior of people who click on ads or posts. You can see which ads or which types of content drive the most engagement.
Use project-specific landing pages to get members to submit information or download documents. It’s easier to track these page views if you know that members can only get there from certain links you share. Another way to measure your association’s word of mouth potential is to use the Net Promoter Score.
Analyze. Create custom tracking codes in your membership management software for lead sources or referrals. Use Google Analytics (or other website traffic tool) took at what social network is driving the most traffic to your site and the content you share. Which content or landing pages drove the most desired actions? Did one social network drive more registrations for your event than others?
Calculate the ROI. Track how much time your staff members spend each day/week/month promoting the organization or engaging your audience via social media. Calculate a percentage of their salary and add in any other expenses (software, researchers, etc.) to determine how much your social media efforts cost your association. Then weigh those against the return you received, in dollars.
You, like many associations, may decide that you don’t need a positive ROI because you feel there are intangible benefits of using social media. With a thorough analysis, though, you’ll be making an informed decision.
You may not feel like you can get an exact ROI for your social media efforts. That's common for associations who are largely in the relationship business. The point here is to make an honest attempt to understand what your efforts are producing and why you are taking on these initiatives.
Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Act on it. Measure It. Analyze it. Calculate your ROI.
Without these steps, your association will continue to wonder if you're getting your money's worth from social media or if it's truly impacting your business.
How do you track your social media impact?