Social Media Metrics – Not Everything is QUANTIFIABLE

alexis klein    February 26, 2015

Organization Name: Millennium1 Solutions

Industry: Business Process Outsourcing

Name of contact if available: Holly Abbott – Director, Quality & Corporate Communication

Web references: Millennium1 Solutions


When it comes to social media, companies either embrace the concept or stay clear of it.  To some executives, social media is an integral part of their marketing strategy while for others, it is just a buzzword, a “passing phase” that will eventually fade away. My weekly blog topic will focus on social media metrics at Millennium1 Solutions.

A key issue revolving around the use and importance of social media lies in the quantifying aspect of this marketing tool.

More often than not, social media has allowed businesses to grow their market share – which means it has played a pivotal role in increasing their return on investment (ROI).

However, like any corporate initiative, measurements are key – and measuring social media efforts is not obvious.  It tends to be fuzzy and far from scientific in terms of tangible contribution to the bottom line.


Let’s take a very simple example. Company X launches a new product called XYZ.  Part of the marketing strategy employs social media to create customer awareness.  Thus company X proceeds to create a Facebook posting for product XYZ, a Twitter account  and a blog.  On the official product launch date, all social media channels are activated.  A few days later company X gets a high number of “likes” for product XYZ on Facebook, experiences a lot of retweets and  high readership on their blog traffic. This is positive news – information on product XYZ is shared which means customers are liking it and the product is gaining increased visibility.

The problem is…what does this all mean? How does this contribute positively to the bottom line? If the general public (i.e. potential customers) are “liking” the product and sharing information about it, are they buying it?

3 out of 4 marketing executives are unable to calculate social media ROI.

This leads us to an important question – how can a company measure the success of a social media campaign? (i.e. how much revenue, how many units were sold as a result of social media initiatives, in quantifiable terms?). It is important to be able to answer these questions since social media campaign measurement is emerging as the most crucial component to social strategies.

“While experiments can fly under the radar for a short-term, without having a measurement strategy, you run the risk of not improving what you’re doing, justifying investments, and the appearance of being aloof to upper management. To be successful, all programs (even new media) must have a measurement strategy…” – Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter

I believe that the “confusion” and the lack of understanding on how to measure the direct impact of social media on revenues lies in the definition of the equation – meaning the definition of Return on Investment (ROI) and on what you wish to measure.

The standard definition of ROI is the exact dollar profit netted for every dollar spent.  It is possible to measure accurately the ROI of social media campaigns, depending on what you wish to measure.


Your goal is to increase the sales of product X.  You have designed and incorporated on your website a new page specifically geared towards that product. This page contains product information and also a feature allowing the visitor to buy the product directly online from that page.  On the day you launch that page, you announce the new website feature page via Facebook, Twitter and Utube.  By measuring the number of visitors to that page immediately after the announcement is made and by measuring the new number of sales (orders put through on that page), you can measure the effectiveness of your social media campaign. If sales go up  you can safely assume the campaign is working – and measure the number of new sales attributed to your initiative.


If on the other hand you are trying to promote more dialogue with your customers, enhance corporate visibility and create brand awareness to increase the number of new followers, website visitors and more “likes”  posted on Facebook – then your standard ROI definition will be harder to measure.  Having positive customer reviews and comments immediately after launching your social media campaign to generate increased customer interest means that the campaign is working – however- it is not obvious to relate the results of this campaign to sales in a quantifiable manner.  You might have sold more products since your campaign started but are you positive those sales were a direct result of that campaign?

Common examples of social media metrics are:

  • Reach
  • Site traffic
  • Leads generated
  • Sign-ups and conversions
  • Revenue generated

Common social media analytics tools that allow you to track the metrics:

  • Google Analytics: Track website traffic, on-site conversions, and sign-ups originating from social media campaigns.
  • Salesforce: Add Salesforce tracking codes to the links you share on social networks. This will allow you to track sales leads back to specific campaigns or social messages.

AUDIO – How to measure social media audio


Examples of how social media campaigns contributed directly to an increased in ROI with precise measurements:

  • The Coffee Groundz used Twitter as a direct ordering channel. Sales and market share grew by 25% shortly after.
  • Green tea makers Steaz offered coupons and generated discussions about organic tea by leveraging their Twitter and Facebook channels. 250,000 coupons were downloaded and sales doubled.
  • The boutique hotel chain Joie De Vivre used social media channels to offer exclusive $79 per night deals at 33 luxury hotels. Over 1,000 rooms were filled as a result (which would have been vacant otherwise).

Interview with Holly Abbott


Holly Abbott is the Director of quality and corporate communication at Millennium1 Solutions. She provided answers to some key questions I had involving the use of social media and metrics at her corporation.

1) Is your main objective using social media to focus on qualitative results (increase in brand awareness, visibility) or quantitative results (increase in sales/revenue directly attributed to your efforts using social media)?

– Our social media strategy targets 3 main objectives: 1) increasing brand presence and awareness through corporate updates, 2) promotion of our talent-brand to attract new applicants, and 3) to engage employees building an internal community.

(2) What are you main metrics in terms of using social media (is it “likes”, more conversations via LinkedIn, more website visits?)

– We use analytics to track new followers (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), reach/impressions (including click-through to our website), and engagement (shares, retweets, post likes, and comments).

(3) Do you frequently use Google Analytics and to what end?

– Yes. Google Analytics is one of our tools for monitoring our corporate website traffic and engagement. We also use Hootsuite.

(4) Any thoughts on social media and your company as a whole?

– Our social media presence has proven effective with a significant lift in our follower base since our new brand profiles were launched in 2013. While the approach is working, we are in what I would classify as our “toddler stage” for social media usage and are evolving our approach on a consistent basis.

Important conclusions:

Metrics do exist to measure ROI linked to social media (which is the case for quantitative data such as site traffic and conversion rates).  However, not all metrics are “precisely” measurable (i.e. raising brand awareness – which is the case for qualitative data) and not all metrics can be directly linked to ROI (i.e. is increasing the number of followers and loyal fan base on social media leading to an increase in sales?).

“Social media measurement is like driving a modern car. You may have a dashboard with all the lights, toggles, gauges, and metrics, but remember, the most important piece of data to have in front of you is the GPS screen. The GPS screen indicates where you want to go (your objective), where you are now, and how to get there”- Jeremiah Owyang