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How to Assess and Measure B2B Social Media ROI

  • 16 Minutes
Here's where to find the data to show the true ROI of your social media efforts, and how you can use that data to add wow to your reports.

B2B marketing can be a complex beast. Yet, without learning to measure B2B social media ROI properly, it can be impossible to transform all those followers and ‘likes’ into a hard dollar value.

Social media is a little more complex than other marketing channels like SEO, programmatic, or even content marketing. For some B2B companies, social media activity is also predominantly organic, making it difficult for brands to quantify their results.

Measuring your B2B social media ROI (or return on investment) accurately can mean that you’ll have a well-rounded understanding of the best areas to optimize. It can help you to recognize those areas of your strategy which need to be tweaked and adjusted. Perhaps it will help you realize that some of your social media channels are performing well, where others are failing to perform at all.

But not only that – B2B social media ROI can also help you and your team justify increases in social media spend. Ultimately, all this can boost your social media results, helping you achieve your objectives far more quickly – and who wouldn’t want that?

Read on to discover more about how to measure your social media ROI and ensure your social media efforts are worth your while.

What is B2B Social Media ROI?

There are many businesses out there who pour hours and hours into their social media management each week and still don’t see any meaningful results. Masses of social media posts don’t guarantee success. There can be several reasons why your social media strategy isn’t working. Yet without understanding your B2B social media ROI, you’ll never fully appreciate what they are.

First of all, what is B2B social media ROI? Well, it’s essentially the return on investment that your B2B business sees from your social media efforts.

While it’s important to build top-line brand awareness and establish a strong digital presence on social media, after a while you’ll want to see what measurable results are coming out of your social media marketing strategy. You’ll want to know the exact value that you’re getting for every dollar spent on social media. This is where your social media ROI comes in.

These days there are a multitude of social media tools available that allow you to measure your social media efforts. You just need to take the time to utilize them in order to measure how your progress is tracking against your objectives. Sounds simple, right? Well, not quite.

But keep reading and we’ll explain exactly how you can measure your social media ROI and level up your social strategy.

Why is Measuring B2B Social Media ROI So Difficult?

A lot of social media marketing activity is organic, and often it focuses on top-of-funnel objectives like brand awareness. Yet, while the top-line numbers are easy enough to extract from even the most basic reporting tools, bottom-of-funnel objectives can be trickier to track. In fact, only 10% of businesses find that they can effectively track their social media ROI.

It can also be difficult to translate these top-of-funnel marketing efforts into lead generation and conversion, particularly if you don’t have a significant budget for paid social media advertising. Don’t get us wrong – metrics like reach, likes, and followers are still important to track, analyze, and report on. However, you need to assess if all those people seeing and engaging with your social channels are actually relevant to your objectives. It’s great to see engagement on your social profiles, but unless these followers have an intent to buy from you at some point in the future, consider whether or not they’re adding value in the long term.

And, while brand awareness shouldn’t be discounted as a crucial brand-building tool, it’s also important to understand how these top-of-funnel prospects can eventually be led down the path to conversion – however long it takes!

When it comes to digital marketing these days, every dollar and cent spent needs to be justified and marketers need to understand what these dollars are working towards. Luckily, we’ll delve into how to do exactly that below.

How to Calculate B2B Social Media ROI

Social media ROI isn’t the be-all and end-all. It should never be the only metric you’re using to assess your results, but it is mighty helpful.

The ROI of social media, also known as your return on investment, is a top-line metric used to define how successful (or not) your social media marketing activity is in relation to the total social media marketing cost. Yep, that includes everything – and we’ll break this down later. So, what is the best ROI formula to use?

To calculate your social media ROI – or any ROI, for that matter – use this calculation:

ROI = [(return – investment)x100/investment]

Your ROI should be displayed as a percentage. It sounds pretty straightforward, but that’s not exactly the case. You see, to figure out your B2B social media ROI, you need to calculate exactly how much you have spent on your social media marketing and then work out your return. This might be for one month, for a set social media campaign, or even for the whole year.

To calculate your return, you need to first work out your primary specific and measurable social media goal.

For instance, your number one goal might be conversions on a booking page. To determine what you’d like to pay for each conversion, think about how much a booking is worth to your B2B company. What is the usual behavior of someone who makes a booking? If 75% of the people who make a booking end up with an average lifetime spend of $300 each, then you can start to determine the cost of how much you’re willing to spend to get those conversions.

Step 1: Define Your Social Media Metrics

Before you do anything, you need to define your social media goals and then choose the metrics that you’ll use to measure any progress. Without clear objectives, it will be impossible to track your B2B social media ROI.

Before you set your social media goals, think about your business goals as a whole. New B2B companies are probably more focused on brand awareness and lead generation, whereas established brands might be looking to increase conversions, try out a new social media channel, or achieve more cost-efficient leads using new tactics.

Remember; set a goal that is achievable, measurable, and realistic within any timeframes that you set.

So, instead of just saying your goal is increasing conversions, decide exactly what you’d like to aim for in a specific period.

Your goal, then, might be:
(Your business name here) will use social media marketing to gain 500 leads in three months, at $2.75 per lead.

Just be sure that you have the resources to track your chosen metrics for any of the goals you set!

Your content strategy might include posting thought leadership content, case studies, and white papers on LinkedIn in an attempt to change the perception of your brand.

However, there’s no point in trying to track brand perception if you don’t have the right social media tools or the ability or resources to survey or interview your audience. So, before you begin, make sure your brand has the budget to properly execute and track your chosen metrics according to your social media objectives.

Step 2: Track Your Social Media Costs

So, what’s next? Well, you’ll need to track all your social media marketing costs. This part is pretty straightforward, but you don’t want to miss any costs as you won’t have a true representation of the value social media is bringing you. So, what should this include?

You should track your:

  • Tools. Add the cost of any social media reporting tools or systems you use for social media management. If you’re also using the tools for other purposes, however, split the cost accordingly.
  • Ad costs. This part should be easy. Simply check platforms like Facebook Business Manager to track your Instagram and Facebook ad spend and wherever else you create your social ads. Then export your ad spends for a specific period of time and add the spend together to get your total ad costs.
  • HR Costs. This should include salaries or any hours from contractors.
  • Materials. This might include photography equipment or anything specifically related to your social media department. Again, if you’re using photography equipment for other purposes, too, then split the cost.
  • Agencies or strategists. If you use an agency for social media management, add all your agency fees here. Just don’t count your ad spend twice!

In terms of the period you’re measuring, it depends on what you want to track. If you’re trying to define your social media ROI for a specific marketing campaign, you wouldn’t use a staff member’s salary for an entire year. You would use a calculation like the below.

HR COST = (Hourly salary*Hours spent working on campaign)

And then you would repeat this process for each person who worked on the account during the marketing campaign period.

Step 3: Quantify Your Social Media Performance

When it comes to actually measuring your social media performance, it’s simple. You’ve already defined your social media objectives.

Now all you need to do is figure out which social media tools you’ll use to measure them. You have several options when it comes to social media measurement. For instance, you could use:

  • Platform analytics. Most social media platforms come with their own in-built analytics such as LinkedIn Insights or Instagram Insights. These can be helpful but keep in mind they can be limited especially if you need to do more of a deep dive into your results.
  • Google Analytics. Google Analytics is completely free and can help you pull data from top-line reports as well as deeper insights that allow you to track more specific goals. You can use Google Analytics to track your progress against custom goals such as content downloads, app downloads, newsletter subscribes, or conversions from specific pages. If you’re new to all this, the Google Analytics Academy provides short training courses where you can learn how to use the platform and set up your tracking.
  • Sked Social. Now we might be a little biased (who can blame us?) but Sked Social really does have it all. Not only is it a sophisticated scheduling tool, but it also has advanced reporting features that make it super easy to export reports, track your performance, and measure social media ROI.

Remember to use UTMs and tags wherever possible so it’s easier to track your activity at the conclusion of your social media campaign. Once your reporting is all set up, you’ll be able to better track your social media activity and work towards very specific goals.

Google Analytics allows you to track these specific goals very easily by setting up customizable goals like this business has done in the example below.

Social media Google Analytics

Step 4: Define What Your Goals are Worth

Next up, you’ll need to assign a value for achieving each goal. But how can this be achieved?

The first method is to check your historical data. If one in ten email subscribers becomes a customer, you can look at the lifetime value of each B2B customer.

So, if your lifetime value is $150 per customer, you would divide the number of subscribers you achieved in the measurement period by 10, then multiply that number by $150 to get the total value.

So, for 12,000 email subscribers, you would use:

(12,000/10) X $150 = $180,000 value.

But what if your B2B business doesn’t have any historical data? Well, you’ll need to either:

  • Research your competitors,
  • Research industry benchmarks,
  • Guess what your goals should be, based on how engaged your target audience is, or
  • Set your own goals. Simply consider how much you’d like to pay per conversion and work backward from there.

Setting your goals isn’t the end of the world. And if you’re reporting to a higher power but you’re a totally new brand, remember to caveat any KPIs you set. In the beginning, you might find it tricky to set accurate KPIs, so the best you can do is to make an educated guess at how you’ll perform. Don’t worry too much over the numbers – you can always adjust your goals for your second reporting period.

Your overall KPIs might depend on how much you’re investing into social media, too. So, instead of setting a goal like this:

“We want to get XX number of conversions”

You should set a goal like;

“We want to hit $XX per conversion with an average basket size of $XX”.

Be as specific as possible with your goal setting.

Step 5: Calculate Your ROI

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for; it’s time to calculate your B2B social media ROI!

Use the same ROI calculation above to get your ROI figure. So, add up your social media expenses first.

For the labor cost of doing social media plus your paid advertising costs and social media tools, you might be looking at $65,000 per year.

Next, you’ll need to assess the value of social for your B2B business. First up, look at the value figure of your efforts to calculate the overall return. If we use the example above with the email subscribers, the business in the example achieved $180,000 worth of value.

Therefore, if we use the same ROI calculation we mentioned earlier, your social media ROI will be calculated this way:

[($180,000 – $65,000)x100/$65,000] = 176%

You can use this calculation for all your social media channels to identify your best-performing social networks or figure out the total ROI. Checking your social media ROI per channel will allow you to see just how effective LinkedIn may be in comparison, to, say, Instagram.

Or, if you’re testing new social media initiatives like influencer marketing or UGC campaigns, you might want to compare data from the current marketing period to the last social media campaign you ran.

It’s important to note that your social media ROI might look far lower in the very beginning. Perhaps you start off using expensive social media tools, or you’re investing too much in photography or expensive animations.

Step 6: Use Data to Assess Your KPIs

While your B2B social media ROI can help in shaping your social strategy, it should never be your only marketing metric. You need to look at the bigger picture to understand the role of social media for your B2B business.

To really assess the results of your efforts properly, you should invest in a social media tool. There are plenty of tools out there, but if you’re just starting out or you want a comprehensive tool that does everything, Sked Social is the perfect option. It has advanced reporting features that help you deep dive into the data and compare your performance against your top competitors.

But the work doesn’t stop there! You’ll need to analyze your data, which you can do a number of ways:

  • Check your own brand’s past performance. Look back on your own historical data and check against all your metrics to compare. If possible, try to compare against the same period of, say, the previous year. Try to take any seasonal changes into consideration. For instance, periods like Valentine’s Day might be very competitive if you’re an eCommerce business
  • Use Sked Social to analyze your competitor’s performance against other B2B companies – ideally within your own industry
  • Do your own research online. For the most accurate comparison, try to find the most current data you can find from your own industry

The more information you have at hand, the more confident you can be that you have set realistic social media goals and KPIs and that you’re tracking well against the competition.

Social media ROI can be helpful, but you need to look at your social media reporting in its entirety if you want to make clever decisions about your content strategy.

In the world of social media marketing, it can take time to accumulate an audience, establish your social presence, and see meaningful success. If you’re a B2B company that’s just starting out on social media you probably won’t see instant results. The secret to success is to report, analyze, refine your strategy, and improve every single month. But you can only do that with the proper tools.

How to Improve Your B2B Social Media ROI

Nailing your social media ROI is about optimizing your social media performance, of course. The better your performance, the better your B2B social media ROI figure will look. That said, keeping any costs low is also crucial in improving ROI.

Our tips?

  • Use social media tools to track performance. Not only will this reduce the time spent on reporting, but it will also help you to easily identify ineffective types of content and allow you to optimize your social media performance
  • Optimize your time spent on social media (therefore reducing your cost) by using social media tools to collate and schedule posts
  • Been plugging away for a while but can’t improve your social media ROI? Review all your costs. Are you spending too much on photography? Are your management hours too high? Assess your outgoings and see where you can reduce your costs, therefore improving your ROI
  • Review your ad spends and see if you can improve these. This can boost ROI significantly

Ready to Level Up Your Social Media Marketing Game?

These days it isn’t enough for B2B brands to simply have a social media presence. To really stand out in the digital space, smash business outcomes and justify significant social media spends, B2B brands need to get their reporting working like a well-oiled machine.

The bottom line? B2B social media marketing can be fruitless without paying close attention to social media ROI. Reporting and attribution are hard enough even with tools! But, by investing in the right social media tools, you can ensure your social efforts are tracked and analyzed correctly. From there, you can double down on what’s working or optimize your social media strategy accordingly.

Now that you know how to choose the right social media channels for your business, why not start carving out hours in your social media workflow, by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial? Our all-in-one Instagram scheduler allows you to automatically schedule social media posts including images, carousels, Instagram Stories, Reels, videos, retweets, and more. Tag locations, users, and products, and manage all your hashtags in one place to save hours each week. And it doesn’t just work for Instagram! Use it to schedule for your Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. Embrace automation and give it a try!

Photo of Photo of Kyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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