Social Media Metrics for Return On Investment

Mike MacEachern    March 13, 2017

When Social Media was in its infancy many managers (I am guilty as well) felt, how do we limit this distraction in the workplace?  Work is a place to contribute to the organizational goals and sales, in other words, to ensure there is a return on the investments being made.  Well despite early avoidance there is no doubt that Social Media is a powerful tool and can contribute to an organization’s success.  But how do we know?  The simple answer is to calculate the return on investment from Social Media.  No matter what industry that you are involved in, it is vitally important to be able to explain simply why the agency/organization should invest in any particular tool.  Social Media is no different and social media metrics can help you do that.  The Nottawasaga Inn is using simple metrics to track their progress.


When it comes to Social Media metrics there are seemingly endless possibilities as to what you can measure.  However, the key is always to identify the business outcome you are trying to achieve.  This will drive determining what you should be measuring in order to identify if you are reaching that goal.  In Swift 6:  Measuring your social media success a number of key metrics are defined.  These range from the size of your audience to the response rate to customers.  Again the business objective should be identified and then the measurements you will track to provide information as to whether your activities are moving you towards that objective.

The hard part really comes in calculating the Return on Investment.  In the article “3 Steps To Measuring Your Company’s Social Media ROI”.  Souza indicates that there are really three key metrics when trying to estimate the Return on Investment for Social Media:

  1. Sales conversions which can be difficult to determine as it is hard to determine exactly at what stage the decision to purchase was made and whether it was that exact page that caused the sale
  2. The value of increased website traffic.  Even if the customer has yet to buy from you there is value in getting more people to your site for brand recognition.  You can value your Facebook efforts by equating the posts to pay per click campaigns to drive engagement with your website.  You can determine the average cost per click from these previous campaigns and can value the traffic generated by your social media efforts.
  3. Depth of engagement

Tourism Ireland developed a method for valuing deeper engagement to their brand that only social media can produce.

  1. Post impressions
  2. Page impressions
  3. Personal action – clicks on photo, video or link-
  4. Public action – commenting or sharing information with social media friends or followers

They took these 4 areas and assigned values to them based on similar marketing activities that have known costs and produced a Social Equivalent Advertising Value.

As you can see the return on investment discussion helps to start to move the discussion from simply measuring the results of your activities and starts to look at how to assign a value to those activities.  Looking at social media metrics and in particular return on investment led me to interviews with the Nottawasaga Inn.


The Nottawasaga Inn is an all Season Resort with spacious accommodations, luxury suites, two golf courses, A Centre Ice Hockey facility, Recreation and Leisure Dome, Restaurants and a full-service Conference Centre.  For the Nottawasaga Inn, they follow the best practices of hotels where their efforts are integrated into the overall marketing and branding effort of the resort.  In fact in the article “Social Media ROI:  Does Your Hotel Have a Competitive Advantage?”  it is suggested that three areas should initially serve as the focus for a hotel’s social media value chain:

  1. “Sales/Revenue Management: Incremental revenue generated with new guests and existing customers (top-line) as well as improvement of sales margins/ADR yield (bottom-line).
  2. Marketing & PR: Efficiency of cost per brand impression for your hotel and avoidance of less efficient and more expensive lead generation channels.
  3. Customer Service: Operational savings and added value for your guests.”

In interviews with several key Nottawasaga personnel, it was clear that the resort is focused on the value of their investments in social media.  Dino Biffis Vice President and Owner of The Nottawasaga Inn said: “If I can’t measure it we don’t invest in it.  The opportunities for Social Media are endless and each business needs to find where social media should fit into their business strategy.”  Leslie Foerster (Marketing Manager) indicated that the focus for Nottawasaga Inn is really on the customer experience and building customer loyalty.  In order to do this, they are focused on responding to client inquiries quickly usually within an hour of the posting.  They post a lot of imagery of activities happening around the resort and they have found that to drive the number of impressions.  They have developed a schedule of posts again with the focus being less on sales and more towards informing their audience of all that the resort has to offer.  This strategy serves a customer relations and brand loyalty function and responds to customers who indicated an interest in seeing all the changes happening at the resort. The incremental revenue generation is tracked through the front desk staff who keep track of the source of booking.  They use Google Analytics to track where their site traffic originates and have a variety of metrics like time on the site and number of pages visited that help inform the success of their efforts.  It is clear that the Nottawasaga has a clear customer service objective for their social media efforts.  It is also clear that they understand that the value of social media is its ability to work along with other business activities to amplify results.  It is not social media by itself that will meet the business objective but it is a powerful tool to assist in improving the customer experience and contributing to return business.

Lessons for Others

The starting point is identifying the desired business outcome you wish to improve.  Then you can identify the social media metrics that will provide you with the data as to whether you are moving towards that objective.

Businesses should be clear about how they are going to measure the Return on Investment from Social Media efforts.  Some efforts will be easier to value than others like social media leading to incremental revenue increases.  However other social media outcomes, while more difficult to value,  can be estimated when you make a correlation to a similar effort that has a defined cost.  For instance in looking at their Facebook page, Tourism Ireland equated the personal action of clicking on a video to having a similar value/cost as clicking on a promoted YouTube video and a public action like sharing of any item on their page to a Google paid search click.  The idea is to define the action in a monetary sense to give you a sense of value.

Social media works in collaboration with other efforts across the organization.  The value is always in the incremental value it adds to customer experiences or sales generation.  Social media is about generating a relationship with your customer.

Organization: Nottawasaga Inn
Industry: Hotel
Name of Organization Contact: Dino Biffis, Vice President and Owner

Authored by: Mike MacEachern, student, SMBP, University of Waterloo

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Sohn, O. and O’Reilly, D. (No Date). Social Media ROI: Does Your Hotel Have a Competitive Advantage?, Hotel Business Review, retrieved from

Souza, J. (2012, Jul. 26)  3 Steps To Measuring Your Company’s Social Media ROI, Fast Company, Retrieved from

123 Reg (2016, May 25). Swift 6:  Measuring your social media success  (Video file) Retrieved from

Henry, M and Harte, B (No Date).   A new & simple way to measure social media ROI:Social Equivalent Advertising Value, Scibd., Retrieved from

Nottawasaga Inn Resort Logo.  Retrieved from Google Chrome on March 13, 2017

Nottawasaga Inn Image.  Retrieved from Google Chrome on March 13, 2017

Biffis, A. (2016, Sept. 13).  Aerial views of the Nottawasaga Inn Resort (Video file) Retrieved from: