To Banish Doubts About Social ROI, Focus on Tried-and-True Metrics

Joy Hays

PR execs can be forgiven for thinking that social media has a relatively low cost of entry. After all, creating and monitoring your Facebook page, Twitter handle(s) and Pinterest page isn’t going to siphon too much from your overall media budget.

But don’t kid yourself. There is no a free ride when it comes to social media, according to Joy Hays, worldwide manager, digital and social media communications at Texas Instruments. If PR execs want to pursue social channels in order to get their messages out more effectively, Hays says, they first need to convince the C-suite that social networking can legitimately be wed to traditional ROI metrics.

Hays will elaborate on social media measurement at PR NewsBig 3 Digital PR Conference, which will be held April 18 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. Hays, who will be presenting on the panel “Setting Tangible Key Performance Indicators for Your Big 3 Initiatives,” spoke with PR News about how communicators can establish KPIs for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest that are tied to their company’s overall business goals.

PR News: What are some of the most effective ways right now to measure the impact of Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest?

Joy Hays: Communicators need to know both the hard and soft metrics associated with social media efforts. A baseline of company efforts needs to be created to truly measure growth and the success of each campaign.

However, the way to maximize the impact of any social media metric is to tie it back to an existing marketing/communication metric. Knowing the specific objectives and goals of each social action and how it might connect or even influence more quantitative metrics like conversions or ROI, will ultimately make it a more effective measurement.  

Social is an emerging medium for businesses and is often looked upon with doubt to the actual value it brings. The quickest way to build credibility is create a bridge back to tried-and-true measurements. Focus on the quality of those metrics, not the quantity of numbers that can be provided.

PR News: What are top metrics that PR execs can deploy for each of these channels?

Hays: For Twitter there are three main metrics: retweets, favorite and click-throughs, but they could also be represented as reach, engagement and visits.

Retweets and favorites are engagement metrics that actually increase awareness and the number of impressions, while looking at click-throughs as a traffic-driving mechanism will be a more familiar metric to most.

One of the metrics on Facebook that is most used by Texas Instruments is the “talking about this” metric. It is a great gauge of how your audience is reacting to the content of your page.

PR News: How do PR execs help to convince the C-suite about the ROI/value of Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest?

Hays: Consistency and relevance are the keys to effective measurement in social media. Changes to every social platform are inevitable, but if what is being measured is also constantly changing, no senior executive will ever be convinced of the value of social media.

Learn more from social media experts like Joy Hays at PR News’ Big 3 Digital PR Conference on April 18 in NYC.

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1