Proof that social media works

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How Can You Prove That Social Media Marketing Works?

Can you prove to your boss that the money she’s spending on social media is getting results? Is it possible to show the impact of social media marketing on her bottom line?

Just imagine that over the past several months you or your marketing team has been managing your company’s social media accounts.

You’ve been at it tweeting away, promoting your brand on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, forums and other social media sites.
And you thought that you were doing amazingly well and perhaps rightfully so.
Then one beautiful day, unexpectedly and shockingly, your boss approaches you.

And you're wondering: why?

She wants an update on what the company got from the time you or your team spent on ‘your’ social media-land.

In other words, the boss wants you to prove to her and other stakeholders that the investment that they have made on social media marketing is impacting the bottom line.

Are you getting the gist?

Though your boss might not be social media savvy one thing that you can take to the bank is that she understands that tons of people are using social media.

Just to get the sense of how huge this social media thing is, Statista reported that out of the 3.17 billion people that are using the internet, a whopping 2.3 billion are active on social media.

In a real business talk, that means that your audience – your customers, clients, prospective buyers of your products or services are spending an insane amount of time on the internet, especially social media.

Should you not be where they are?

Many individuals and companies are on social media because of the buzz and simply wanting to be just like the ‘Jones’.

Therefore, companies and noble individuals have created awesome social media accounts on multiple channels thinking that simply opening those accounts would by itself transform their businesses.

Is that enough?

proof that social media works

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Whether your boss is the owner, head of marketing, CFO or even the CMO, chances are that as visionary, innovative and inspiring as she may be, she may not understand the full impact of social media.

And just like her peers, she may not understand how social media can strengthen and catapult her overall marketing goals.

But you should not blame her.


There are tons of studies that prove that marketers struggle with measuring ROI from social media.

For instance:

  • 46% of B2B marketers say they’re not sure whether any social channels have generated business revenue.
  • Engagement is still the most commonly used metric. 80% of marketers use engagement as their primary success metric, 56% focus on site traffic.
  • 60% of marketers see ‘measuring ROI’ as one of their top three social media marketing challenges. 50% say ‘tying social media activities to business outcomes’.

It is important to note that these studies perhaps refer to organic social rather than paid social.

Paid social media advertising is measurable pretty much like any other direct response ad.

Those who manage marketing budgets have the right to question whether social media is worth the money that is budgeted to it.

Interestingly, those that have a vested interest in social media marketing would love to have everybody believe that social media marketing works.

For example, social platforms, social media managers or social media management agencies are quick to scoff and roll their eyes whenever somebody opines that social media does not work.

It is true that particularity is still a complex task, but we can’t silence those that doubt through disdain alone.

However, it is highly significant to note that an effective social media marketing strategy is a long-distance race and not a sprint.

It takes persistence, patience, yes time, effort and measurement.

Measuring the return (ROI) on your social media investment is not easy or straight forward.  

But if you're a social media manager, measuring your social media success is an opportune time for you to demonstrate the value of your work and the impact of your social media decisions on the bottom line.

Before we start measuring the impact of social media on your overall marketing strategy, it is important to understand what a social media ROI is.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Social Media ROI?

social media ROI

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According to Hubspot, ‘social media return on investment (ROI) is everything you do in social media, ranging from protecting your reputation, building brand awareness and loyalty, retaining and satisfying customers, and directing earning or saving revenue’.

Why You Should Measure Your Social Media Efforts

Dennis Yu the chief technology officer at BlitzMetrics explains: ‘Why would you invest on social media without measuring what the CFO cares about? The age of accountability is here’.

While social ROI is not easy to measure, you can and should be putting a system in place to regularly track your return on investment.

According to Webbiquity, ‘46% of B2B markets say they’re not sure whether any social media channels have generated revenue for their businesses’.

Only 13% say that they can prove the impact of social media quantitatively.

There are some intangibles.

For instance, it is hard to measure the impact of word of mouth referrals.

And speaking about measurements, in 2015 the PR industry came up with an updated Barcelona Principles.

This updated system for measuring the performance of communications reflects the changing media landscape and puts emphasis on the importance of measuring social media impact.

The revised strategy emphasizes that social media measurement tools have evolved to a point where there is a greater potential for consistent measurement on engagement, along with quantity and quality.

There are tons of yardsticks or metrics that can be measured on social media. But here are three reasons why you should measure your social media campaign:

measuring social media 

#1. Measuring Your Social Media Tasks Helps You Understand How Social Media Fits Into Your Business Goals

By measuring your social media tasks, you understand how social media fits into your business goals.

Importantly, such quantification shows you which social media channels are most effective in achieving your business goals.

Before you choose a social media platform, you need to make sure that they are the same platforms where your target audiences spend their time on.

As you use and analyze the different social media platforms, you would easily see which social media networks are effective for your brand.

Social media measurement helps you see clearly how your social media investment is impacting your overall business goals.  

#2. Your Social Media Investment Should Attract More Customers To Your Business

As important as measuring your brand awareness is, proving to your stakeholders that social media helped sell a tangible quantity of goods or services is even more important.

Additionally, though you are impressed by the boost in comments, retweets, shares and the likes a certain post or tweets get, your boss would be more impressed if you can prove to her how those retweets and likes led to the buying of goods or services.

Savvy social media managers use Google Analytics to find out pretty quickly if they are bringing customers to the business.

#3. Review Your Results And Reset Your Goals

By measuring your social media activities, you can see whether your social media efforts are yielding the results you envisioned.

And after reviewing your results and you see that you’ve not met your goals, measurement can help uncover what and where to tweak in order to achieve your business goals.

Examples of new goals might be to improve brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website, reach new audiences, or generate leads.

However, here are four social media KPIs that would help you reach and deepen your impact with your target audiences new and old.

  • Engagement
  • Reach
  • Leads
  • Conversions

#1. Engagement

Engagement is a milestone leading up to marriage. It takes a lot of time, many texts, phone calls, emails, etc.

Similarly, social media management can be likened to a marriage. A successful marriage takes a lot of engagements which need time and dedication.

According to a Forrester report, “engagement is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence an individual has with a brand over time.”

Simply put, social media engagement measures the number of likes, shares, and comments that your social updates receive.

In simple English, engagement measures likes and shares, followers and following ratio, leads generation etc.

social media reach


Social Media Reach

Social media Reach is the total number of eyeballs that saw or heard of your content on social media. 

On the other hand, Impressions are the number of times your content is shown on the internet whether it was clicked on or not.

One thing that is highly important to understand about social media reach is that it is not an exact science.

It is not possible to know for a certainty the exact number of people who come in contact with your brand. 

Unlike engagements, measuring a social media reach is guesswork, an estimate.

Therefore, a balanced approach to measuring social media reach is to set a baseline, track your progress, and understand how you’re doing.

Such information helps you to learn more about your branding efforts, what needs to be improved on and what efforts need to be discontinued.

Social media reach is super important in tracking the reach of:

  • Hashtags
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Hashtag campaigns
  • Events
  • Social media profiles, pages and fan pages

Social Media Leads

Social Media Leads metric measures the customer’s journey through your website.

This metric is one of the most effective ways to prove return on marketing investment for social media campaigns.

It shows a clear journey from the campaign to conversion.

As you study this metric, you want to see if there's a correlation between new leads and wins from specific social media posts.

The insight you gain from the metrics of your social media leads will help you to identify where your best opportunities lie.

And where improvements are needed, you tweak your content so as to influence the journeys of future visitors.

According to Sprout Social, 74% of shoppers make buying decisions based on social media.

So, if you’re not tracking leads through your social platforms, now might be a good time to consider it.  

Social Media Conversions

Social media conversion is the point of your respondent’s journey at which she performs the desired action after receiving your marketing message.

In other words, conversion is simply getting someone to respond to your call-to-action.

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters are the best at helping you track which online marketing campaign that’s driving the maximum traffic and business to your website.

This is what Kissmetrics says about UTM parameters:

“UTM parameters are simply tags that you add to a URL. When someone clicks on a URL with UTM parameters, those tags are sent back to your Google Analytics for tracking.”

In tracking your social media conversions, getting your target audience to open an email is a conversion.

And when the person clicks on the call-to-action link inside an email is another conversion.

Filling out a registration form on your landing page so as to read your content is a conversion.

However, the ultimate conversion is when you sell your goods or services.

Social Media Measuring Tools 

social media measuring tools

The best way to prove that your social media investment impacts your marketing is by monitoring your audience behavior, listening to what they are saying about you, your products or services, and even your competitors.

When you have relevant data, you can analyze the information and use the insight gained in making informed business decisions.  

However, the key to gathering the data you need is using a great social media monitoring tool or tools.

These programs monitor everything about user behavior - you can track keywords, hashtags, URLs, and much more.

Simply measured helps you analyze your Facebook fan page, Twitter audience and more through downloading customizable Excel spreadsheets.

If you want to figure out how often your tweets are being shared and by whom, check out TweetReach.

Free social media measuring tools include:

The paid social media monitoring tools include:

  • Mention External link (opens in the same window): includes mentions online – free with paid options
  • Hootsuite External link (o opens in the same window): measuring social media analytics – free with paid options
  • Tweetreach External link (opens in the same window): get tweet measurement – free with paid options
  • Sprout Social External link (opens in the same window : measure your social media engagement – free trial, then it's paid.
  • RowFeeder is an inexpensive way to monitor what people are saying about your brand.

    Ad Spend On Digital And Social Media Marketing Increasing

    According to AdWeek, eMarketer published figures today showing that total U.S. ad spend will hit $238.82 billion, with the amount spent on digital media buys surpassing that of traditional and accounting for 54.2 percent of the market.

    The research shows that digital ad spend will hit $129.34 billion in 2019, while traditional media buys will generate $109.48 billion, with total online media buys generating $172.29 billion in revenue by 2021.

    eMarketer forecast that social video ad spending in the US will reach $14.89 billion in 2021, growing 44% from 2019.

    It will then account for 30.4% of total video ad spending.

    video ad spend

    Source: eMarketer

    Zenith predicts "that two thirds of all the growth in global advertising expenditure between 2017 and 2020 will come from paid search and social media ads.

    Over this period, total spending will increase from US$86bn to US$109bn on paid search, and from US$48bn to US$76bn on social media.

    Paid search will grow by US$22bn over this period, while social media will grow by US$28bn, making it the single biggest contributor to growth."

    As you can see, social media marketing is working.

    If it were not, why would sane companies be spending such an insane amount of money on digital marketing and social media?

    The question is: do you know how to make social media marketing work for you? 

    To make social media marketing work for you, you need to have a social media management goal.

  • Conclusion

    In order to be effective in measuring your social media success, you need to align your social media goals with your business goals.

    Of all the social media metrics we’ve discussed, you might only prioritize a few. And that’s quite okay.

    After all, the point is to make more informed decisions for your business.

    As you analyze your social media efforts, you may realize that social media marketing is just not for you.

    If your social media efforts are not helping you build an audience, increase your brand awareness, or convert customers, then it’s probably time to try another marketing strategy.

    Conversely, your social media measurement may also prove to you that you’re missing opportunities.  

    Social media is a powerful tool for learning, listening, and building your marketing strategy in real time.

    Therefore, you must incorporate its analytics-measuring results as part of your social media strategy in order for it to matter at all.

    Do you want to get started with a social media management strategy that rocks?

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