Whether you’ve been in business for a while or just starting up, a question that I often hear is, “When do I start seeing social media marketing ROI (return on investment)?

It depends.

Back in the days of old-fashioned marketing, determining your return on investment was fairly easy. Say you spent $500 placing an ad in the newspaper, and it garnered $1000 in sales. Your ROI is $500. Easy.

However, in today’s marketing, it’s not that easy. How did a customer find you? Did they Google you? Did they see a post on Facebook or Twitter that a friend of theirs shared? Were they driving by your store or restaurant or did they search an app on their mobile device? Also, what did you invest?

Today’s typical marketing costs are several:marketing ROI

  • Website design, hosting, domain name registration
  • Graphic designer
  • Your time
  • An employee’s time
  • Paid digital advertising on Google Adwords, social media or mobile
  • Printed collateral material like business cards, flyers or direct mail
  • Outdoor signage or billboards
  • Hiring someone to set up your social media profile pages
  • Taking classes on social media marketing

Stop thinking Social Media Marketing ROI and think KPI (Key Performance Indicators)

What are your goals and objectives? They could be:

  • Driving traffic to your website
  • Building your email list
  • Selling products or services on or offline.
  • Getting people to come to your store or restaurant
  • Building awareness
  • Fundraising
  • Establishing yourself as an expert
  • Driving word-of-mouth recommendations
  • Getting on the top of Google search
  • Building a following on social media
  • Improving customer satisfaction/getting reviews
  • Promoting advocacy
  • Generating quality leads

Some of these are hard to measure. Like how do you know when you’re established as an expert? When you meet someone in an elevator or networking event, and they say, “Hey, I’ve seen you on____” or “You’re the _______ lady/guy”! Some are more obvious:

  • When you have over 500 connections on LinkedIn
  • When you’ve got 1000 followers on Twitter
  • When you have 500 Facebook likes
  • When you’re getting 1000 visitors a month to your site
  • When the 50 out of the 1000 visitors convert into a lead or a sale. (A 5% conversion rate is on the high side. A typical conversion rate is 2-5% depending on the business.)

What does it mean to you?

This is different for every business, but you’ve got to identify your KPIs before you start doing any marketing. Write all this down. This becomes part of your overall marketing plan which is part of your overall business plan.

How long does it take to start seeing some Social Media Marketing ROI?

Again, it depends. Some take longer than others. You never know when something is going to take off. However, just because you’re on social media doesn’t mean what you’re posting is going to go viral. Understand this up front. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in it for the long-haul. Don’t expect overnight success. It doesn’t happen that way. And there are no guarantees that all this will work.

When I’m working with a client, it takes about 90 minutes a day for the first 30 days to build a following. That’s beside blogging 2-3 times a week. Once you have your following built, then it will take you less time. It should take you less than an hour a day if you’re using the right tools and everything is set-up properly. Also, in the beginning, it’s like learning several software programs at the same time. It’ll be slow going at first, but once you get used to everything, it’ll take you less time to do what you need to do.

Checking your analytics and insights monthly

You have to check your analytics and insights at the end of every month. Both on your website with something like Google Analytics and on the social networks themselves. Each of the networks provides analytics and/or insights which can tell you:

  • How many followers or likes you’ve gotten
  • Which posts got the best engagement (likes, comments, clicks or shares)
  • What other things your audience likes
  • Your following’s demographics: gender, age, location (Are they your target market?)

On your website, you want to see the monthly visitors growing each month. Besides that, you need to know:

  • Which search engines they used
  • Which social network where they on when they clicked on a link to your site
  • How long did they stay on your site
  • How many pages did they view while they were there
  • How many were returning visitors vs. new
  • If you have a call-to-action (a freebie that you give away for a visitor’s email address), how many “converted”?

Based on your monthly analytics, you can then see what’s working and what’s not working and adjust your strategic and tactical marketing plans accordingly. You’ll also set new goals for the next month. If you met or surpassed your previous goals, then what you’re going is working. Keep it up. If you didn’t meet your goals, what happened?

  • Were you not blogging enough?
  • Did you not spend enough time engaging on the social networks?
  • Were you posting at the wrong times?
  • Did you not do enough research on your target market to understand how they use the networks and how best to reach them?

Wow! That’s a lot to comprehend! Unfortunately, if you don’t, you suffer the risk of getting left behind in the dust by your competition.

Have you been avoiding digital marketing? You can’t afford to wait any longer if you want to compete in today’s market. Start by attending one of the marketing workshops for Greater Phoenix SCORE.

About the Author(s)

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

Giselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, content & digital marketing consultant & trainer. She specializes in market research, strategic planning, search engine optimization (SEO), social media and marketing automation setups, training and coaching.

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Trainer and Coach, AZ Social Media Wiz
When do you see Social Media Marketing ROI?