For many businesses, tangible return on investment (ROI) is the metric by which a marketing campaign is seen as a feat or flop.

After time and money is spent on the planning and implementation of a social media campaign, the heat is on to prove that all the effort has been worthwhile. 

It appears that many marketers still find this difficult, as according to the most recent CMO survey by Marketing Week, 45% of respondents said they haven’t been able to show the impact of social media marketing. 

Luckily there are some very basic steps that can be taken to both increase and calculate ROI for your social media efforts. 

It’s good to listen

It sounds simple but the key to encouraging a positive ROI is to study the reaction to individual posts you are sharing on social media and use what you have learnt to move forward. 

Go the extra mile by not only measuring the likes and new followers your content attracts, but listening to both the positive and negative response you get from customers. Listen to what they are saying, rather than relying on a figure to demonstrate impact (or the lack of, in some cases). 

By looking at the sentiment around a post, you can see why it did or did not go down well. If your audience seems to prefer visual content, invest more in the creation of videos and infographics. If they respond negatively to a joke, think about the personality associated with your brand. For example, House of Fraser’s recent ‘emojional’ Twitter campaign received a mixed response, with some believing that the retailer’s account had been hacked. 

Think about the image others already have of your brand and consider whether posts need to be more educational or serious in tone. 

Observing your followers also allows you look at who they are talking and listening to. As a result, you identify new customers that might be interested in your brand and potential influencers who might be able to represent it. You can join in with conversations that are relevant and position your spokespeople as experts in certain areas. 

Using hashtags within your posts allows you to discover and join the right conversations, increasing the visibility of your brand. Then, listening and conversing allows you to ask for feedback on your product or service in real time. This can be a more genuine (and cost effective) way to conduct market research and, as a result, generate positive ROI. 

Right time, right place 

Keeping track of the growth of your followers and fans can help you identify both trends and the success of your company’s individual social media profiles. From this you can make a decision about whether or not the investment of time and money in a certain channel is proving worthwhile. For example, if a lot of budget is being spent on beautiful photography for Instagram, but you are not seeing a lot of engagement, then this will threaten the likelihood of ROI for the overall social media strategy. Swallow your pride and cut your losses before the situation worsens. 

By regularly conversing with followers, you can identify the right time to contact them as well as the right place. If you are trying to target parents, for example, it might not be best idea to send out a post in the morning (when they are more than likely to be feeding their children breakfast or driving them to school). The best time to share content with them can be established through regular interaction. 

Lightening the load

As necessary as it is, analysis through social listening takes just as much time and energy as the planning and execution of your social media strategy. 

Processing everything you have learnt and putting it to use can be overwhelming. You can make life easier for yourself by automating all the data you have gathered through one centralised platform, increasing the opportunity to analyse future trends and opportunities for your social media marketing. There are many different tools available to help with this so research and consider your options. 
In conclusion, by taking more time to understand the needs of your customer, you will be more likely to meet those needs by providing an improved product or service.

Creating a better product or service leads to better sales, proving that everything that can be gleaned from social listening is arguably worth its weight in gold.