It is clear that people are still struggling to prove the value of social media to clients and in business, despite it being inherently more measureable than its traditional counterparts. Business leaders are still asking for, and marketers still providing, community growth measures and message reach and not measures tied to business objectives.

This series on social media unwraps ways that as marketers, you can add value to your social offering to your clients; and as brand owners or corporate leads, how you can better define social media against your business objectives to underpin success.

Firstly, let’s clear up social media ROI. For purists who want the definitive return on investment, this can be calculated as:

Sales – Investment / (Investment x 100) = percentage ROI

This is not new news. However, some of the more common challenges for marketers are:

Attribution – where investment cannot be directly attributed.

  • That social media is rarely a stand-alone element of a campaign.
  • That other elements of the environment have not been measured as a starting benchmark on which to base a raise.
  • That there is little or no allocation of resources to tracking awareness when a financial goal is not the KPI of the campaign or work programme.

It’s these issues and more that we will consider in this bi-monthly series.

Six pillars of business social media

There are many ways in which you can articulate the use of social media in a business context. It’s perhaps useful to consider the main business functions that are most easily aided by social media, and that can prove financial value. This series will unwrap these six main business cases for social media and give measures to support each.


From promoting your employer value proposition, marketing your thought-leadership and explaining the culture of organisation; there are many more social media uses in HR than just attracting talent.

Social media can be used to drive employee-led communications, internal advocacy programmes and alumni outreach. Smart HR directors are seeing that individuals recruited through social media have a lower attrition rate, directly affecting their bottom line.

PR, advertising and social media marketing

This is the area that we are all most familiar with; social media marketing has the most use cases in marketing and receives more media attention and the lion’s share of the budget. Agencies and organisations delivering campaigns and business as usual social media endeavours are familiar with driving reach and awareness, but mapping that back to an agreed set of comparable objectives or standard business results is often an issue.

We will help you to define your measurement framework, success indicators and metrics for different business needs.

Direct sales 

Sales teams now have a distinct advantage in being able to build direct relationships with influencers and buyers through social media and better understand their needs.

Sales endeavours delivered over social media channels can be directly tracked to e-commerce provision and sales, we will share how to track results to understand which channels are best performing for you.

Business intelligence

If you can do one thing, listen. Through social media, you can have a distinct advantage of understanding what prospects, customers and influencers think about your product, brand or service.

You have the capability to find out the pleasure and pain points in your business and in direct competition. This can help refine new products or features, generate entirely new business streams or overhauling existing models. We’ll look at listening metrics and feeding social business intelligence into your planning processes.

Customer service

The opportunity to signpost or respond in real-time to customers’ needs is particularly relevant in organisations with real-time needs. Travel, transport, consumer service delivery, telco and tech helplines are all industry trailblazers in saving costs through webcare or the channel shift from call centres to Twitter. We will share good examples of the ROI of customer service at each stage of social media maturity.

Internal communication

Whether it’s Yammer, Skype, Slack or Asana, most internal communications platforms are inherently social, or have an element of direct messaging to them. Enabling your workforce or stakeholders to communicate across business remit and geographical locations not only breaks down silos but is delivering attributable cost reductions in more traditional internal communication channels.

As part of this series of articles on social media ROI, we will explore measurement and metrics further and showcase examples of organisations that are utilising their social media channels effectively and making effective changes to their bottom line through their use of social media.