Most small business owners know the importance of social media in modern marketing but struggle with social media tracking to prove the value. Calculating return on investment (ROI) is easy for ecommerce-driven businesses. It’s a completely different ballgame for brick and mortar stores, but there are a number of metrics that can be tracked to determine ROI.

Before diving into these, it’s important to note that social media marketing is about much more than making the most money in the shortest time possible. Building a community of engaged brand advocates where two-way communication flows freely and publically is a fairly new frontier, and is invaluable to your small business. Communicating with your audience, listening to and addressing their needs or concerns is a great benefit to your company. This will net the greatest return for you and should be the first priority when crafting your strategy.

Now let’s dive in.

Tracking URLs

Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking and analyzing visits to your website. However, it lacks the capability to truly segment the performance of social media efforts on a granular level, such as which post the user to clicked to get there. You’re able to see which visits came from a particular website, but it pretty much ends there.

Luckily Google provides a service called URL Builder that allows you to add specific campaign parameters to a site URL. This provides segmented tracking so you can see exactly which post drove them to click through to your site.

So instead of using a standard URL like:

http://example.com/for-dad

It will generate a URL like:

http://example.com/for-dad?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_term=wife&utm_content=5%20dollars%20off&utm_campaign=fathers%20day

If you need to clean up the URL before posting, use bit.ly to shorten it.

To create these URLs, first enter the page to which you want to direct traffic. Next, add the specific parameters you want to track:

Campaign Source is the site the visits will come from (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).

Along with the page URL, this is the only section you’re required to fill out. However, added details will provide more detailed results.

Campaign Medium describes the type of source that drove the visit (social, email, etc.)

Campaign Name simply describes the overall campaign you’re promoting. For example, use Father’s Day if you’re running a campaign to drive gift purchases for dad.

Campaign Content can be used to describe the content of the post, such as offering $5 off to customers that follow you on social.

Campaign Term is where you can add any keywords that can further help in segmenting your visits. For example, use “wife” or “children” to differentiate the audience targets.

Call Tracking and Switching

Call tracking services allow you to purchase unique phone numbers that forward to your main business line. Through providers such as Marchex, a tracking number can be purchased for $12 with a monthly fee of $0.08 per minute. This is a minor investment that has major benefits in tracking ROI.

Purchase a dedicated number for each of the social media platforms used. Analyze them on a monthly basis to determine exactly which site is generating the most leads. Focus your efforts there.

These services also offer call switching, which automatically changes the phone number listed on your website if the visit came from social media.

Form Submissions

Contact forms can be used for giveaways, sign-ups or to simply contact your business. They also provide another method for tracking leads from social media. Forms can be included on your website or directly on Facebook through a landing page tab.

Set up goals in Analytics to track form submissions and where they came from for another method tracking leads through social media.

Deals and Offers

Special offers are some of the quickest ways to generate sales for your business. Offer small monthly promotions to your social media followers. Use unique redemption codes for each social media website to determine which generates the most value.

Newsletter Signups

It is much easier to convert customers through email marketing than social media, so driving signups should be included in your social strategy when applicable. Implement a Facebook landing page tab where followers can sign up without ever leaving the site. Create posts that drive users to your website to sign up for exclusive offerings.

Ensure you properly set up goals in Analytics to track signups from social media. You can also assign a monetary value for each new email customer to better calculate their value. For example, if your historical data shows the average customer spends $500 over their lifetime and you know that 5% of your email list converts into a customer, you can calculate that each new sign up is worth approximately $25. If you gain 20 new signups from social media in a given month, you can be fairly confident that these efforts will generate around $500.

Additional Social Media Tracking Tips

Create clear goal paths for your customers. People are much more likely to take action if you tell them exactly what you want them to do every step of the way.

Collaborate with other social media marketers in your area. Many cities have social media groups that meet on a monthly basis. Find these groups and attend their meetings. Participate in the conversation and share the strategies you’ve tried. Talk about your failures as well as successes, and bounce ideas of other members.

You can also use LinkedIn groups as a digital discussion space.

While it can be difficult to track return on investment from social media, it’s certainly not impossible. Ensure you’re spending your time wisely by implementing the social media tracking metrics found here.

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