I recently launched my new niche business, and like most start-up small businesses without a marketing budget, I’ve been using social media to launch the new site and find clients.

But does it actually help?

Of course I’ve read plenty of articles explaining how social media can help with SEO, as well as the obvious benefit of attracting new clients, but given I haven’t had anyone contact me through my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ accounts, how do I know if the effort I’m putting in is actually doing anything positive?

Is my time being wasted? Or does it give me an ROI?

Obviously we can look at Google Analytics to see where our traffic comes from and if any of it originated from social media. But if it did originate from social media, how do you know what those people did once they landed on your website? You can’t. At least not without putting some steps in place first.

So here’s how to measure the ROI on your social media activity:

1. Identify your goal(s).

Ask yourself the following questions to help identify your main objective:

  • What information do you want to know about your social media efforts?
  • Why do you want to know that particular information?
  • What will this information help you decide about your VA business?

2. Set your goal(s).

Once you’ve answered the above questions, you should be able to narrow down what you want your goal(s) to be.

It could be that you want to drive traffic to your website and get prospects to sign up to your mailing list. Or perhaps you’re running a time-limited special offer e.g. 2 hours work at half price.

Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s clear in your head. Then when using social media channels, always have it in mind so you can steer your posts in the direction of that main objective.

3. Choose the right social media platform(s).

Time is precious. Don’t waste it by getting involved in the wrong channels. Know where your potential clients spend their time, and join them.

This infographic shared by Melissa Leiter gives a good breakdown of the main platforms which should help you choose the right one for your business.

Social media channels and TA

Then get to work.

  • Make sure your profile is complete.
  • Start sharing your own information – just remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time share valuable information, and no more than 20% of the time used on self-promotion.
  • Get involved in conversations to (ideally) add value.
  • Direct traffic through to your website to meet your set objective.

4. Tag your links.

This is probably the most important step to truly measure your social media ROI.

As with many of your social media posts you might decide to include a link back to your website – to a blog article or perhaps to some relevant general information that adds value to the conversation in some way. In each of these cases make sure your URL is a ‘Tagged Link’. This allows you to track what that person did once they landed on your website, after clicking the URL in the post.

It’s vital that you use a ‘Tagged Link’ because standard link shorteners that are automatically contained within social media accounts don’t provide this type of tracking capability. The only information they offer is to say that the post was clicked on and that the person navigated to your website. But what they did once they arrived on your site will be a mystery.

That is until you use a ‘Tagged Link’.

A ‘Tagged Link’ allows you to see what that person did after they landed on your website. For example, it will tell you if they did go on to sign up your mailing list, or contact you about the special offer you’re currently running …

The simplest way to create a ‘Linked Tag’:

  • Go into Google’s URL Builder
  • Enter the info required
  • Click ‘Submit’

And hey presto, the new URL will be generated that you can use in your social media posts.

5. Monitor activity.

After about a month of activity, when your objective has been set and you’ve been using ‘Tagged Links’, log into your Google Analytics account to take a look at where the traffic has come from and what it did once it landed on your website.

Of course you may prefer to monitor your activity through other social media tools. There are plenty available! A great overview of the most popular free tools to measure both ROI and social media success can be found in an article by Search Engine Watch.

6. Review results.

Finally it’s time to review the results.

Take a look at the posts that worked, when your goal was met, as well as the ones that didn’t. By analysing the results you’ll be able to determine what you can do in the future to get more conversions via your social media channels.

If you need a little help understanding analytics Google’s Help Centre is the best place to learn.

So by focusing your goal, setting your custom campaigns and monitoring the results, you’ll be able to finally measure your social media ROI.