Return on Investment (ROI) Measurement Tools for Social Media Marketing and Communication Activities

It is unfortunately true that many who use social media for building business relationships, growing leads and increasing sales have no idea whether their efforts are working, or are simply a waste of time.  The platforms you choose to use depend a great deal on the industry you’re in.  Some of the most popular social media platforms today are Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, but there are literally hundreds of them available.  The question is, should you use measurement tools to determine your Return On Investment (ROI), and what are the advantages/disadvantages of such tools?

To answer the first question, should you use ROI measurement tools to determine if your social media strategies are working?  Absolutely.  Whether free or paid, it’s essential that you have a clear picture of which of your strategies are producing the most results, so that you will know what areas to concentrate on, and which are really a waste of your time and effort.

Here is a brief glance at some of the social media marketing and communications ROI measurement tools, the advantages, and the drawbacks.

Telmar Matterhorn (TMR) –  Telmar Matterhorn is a tool that works to help identify the specific media placements which work in virtually every phase of the path to the purchase funnel.  Essentially, Telmar Matterhorn assists in targeting your audience, analyses your reach/frequency across media and monitors cost per impact.  Optimised media mix recommendations based on ROI optimization, points of diminishing returns and “what-if” scenarios are other capabilities of the tool.

Addictomatic – While this is actually a news aggregator, Addictomatic can be used to measure the effectiveness of your social media strategies. A news aggregates web content such as news headlines, blogs, podcasts, and video blogs (vlogs) in one location for easy viewing.  Addictomatic is basically a search engine which aggregates (Really Simple Syndication – RSS)  feeds into a visual dashboard.  In turn, you can see how your company/brand is being presented on various social media sites all in one page.

Purchase Equivalency Calculator – Just released two months ago, Purchase Equivalency Calculator is a social media ROI tool that allows any brand to calculate their return.  Most importantly, this tool does not claim to measure the connection between social marketing and sales, but whether the investments the user makes generate results that are more or less costly than what he or she would typically spend on traditional methods of online advertising.  Some claim that this tool cannot measure true ROI, because return on investment only arises when actual cost savings are experienced or money actually received.  Missing from the Purchase Equivalency Calculator is the best method to measure outcomes, not outputs.

HootSuite Social 360 – Claimed to be the “big daddy” of HootSuite’s social media measurement tools, this one offers a vanity URL, enhanced analytics, 30 team members and 10 seats for their certification program.  However, unless you’re made of money most will find the almost $1,500/month (R 12 500)  price tag a bit exorbitant.

With the free version of HootSuite, you are limited to 5 accounts.  Tabs are slow to update, report templates are limited, and it is required that you create and administer columns, although you’re limited to 10 columns.  You also have to give Hootsuite the hour and minutes separately, and add whether it is a.m. or p.m.  Basically, the free version is extremely limited and time consuming.

SproutSocial – A highly popular social media monitoring and management platform, SproutSocial offers a slick dashboard and pulls all of your activity from all networks into a single stream.  Directly from the dashboard you can follow, re-tweet and respond.  Great scheduling functionality and a “discovery” feature which suggests who to follow or unfollow based on criteria such as keyword search, who your followers are, etc.  Export to Excel or PDF and robust reporting features.

The drawback to SproutSocial is that it supports only LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  If you want unlimited profiles for up to 10 users, the cost is $899/month.(R7 500)  There are other pricing options as well for single users who don’t want/need unlimited profiles.

Crowdbooster – This social media tool is ideal for analysing which messages are effective, allowing you to prepare quality content in order to make your marketing even more effective.  Facebook posts, tweets and other messages are analysed, then suggestions are made regarding when it’s best to post, who you should interact with, and what your target audience seems to care about  most.  Easy scheduling, audience monitoring/listening capabilities, visually appealing dashboard that offers easy progress measuring, influential followers, follower growth and top retweets.

Crowdbooster is a highly effective and easily managed tool, but there are drawbacks.  The analytic capabilities are fairly simple, it only supports Facebook and Twitter, and not all of your past content may be aggregated.  There are also no keyword monitoring capabilities.

There here are literally hundreds of tools which can be used to measure the Return On Investment of your social media marketing and communications strategies.  The fact is, that there are small problems or “glitches” with nearly all of them, and no one “perfect” tool.  The quality of your ongoing activities must be monitored and regularly measured. The secret lies in the combination of tools and processes used. Currently such a combination is an art, rather than a science and therefore always open to conjecture.


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