The best presentation at last week's Social Media Strategies conference in Santa Clara, CA, was the keynote by John Squire, Chief Strategy Officer of Coremetrics, on measuring ROI in Social Media. He presented the latest research into social media and a quick case study from Seton Hall University.
Squire said a recent social media study found that 30 percent of marketers aggressively invest time and budget in developing custom tabs and applications on Facebook. No surprise there.
But the study also found that 58 percent of marketers hold their Facebook investments accountable for driving key business metrics, such as website sales, conversions and visits. That's new news.
Why? Because 81 percent of marketers understand that Facebook does not generate direct website traffic. They use Facebook to nurture leads that will subsequently visit the website via other channels.
So, how can you have your cake and eat it too?
Squire showed how to benchmark social sites against other channels like display, paid search, natural search, direct load, and referring sites. In his example, social sites generated a high percentage of new visitors -- who became highly engaged as measured by session loyalty.
He then shared a quick case study from Seton Hall University.
The university had created a Flickr photostream in 2007, a YouTube channel in 2008, a Twitter feed in 2008, and a Facebook page in 2009. But it wasn't clear if these social media were helping to motivate prospective students to convert into applicants.
But by using a new metric called "conversion efficiency," which divides "event completing sessions" by "sessions," Seton Hall was able to determine that Facebook visitors were more motivated to convert than visitors from marketing programs, natural search, referring sites, or direct load.
A Facebook traffic heatmap also showed that most visitors came from two geographic regions: South Orange, NJ, and Philadelphia, PA.
This enabled the university to plan its offline events more cost-effectively, too.
The net net, as I like to say, was this: You can measure ROI in social media even if there aren't clicks to count.
Or, as Squire said, you can "attribute appropriate credit to social media for influencing subsequent website behavior" by joining "social media data with web analytics data accurately." To do this, you need to "look beyond Facebook page visits and fan counts" and "measure social performance using KPIs."
If you want more information, read the press release Coremetrics Announces ROI Measurement Capabilities for Facebook.
Yes, you can find useful information in a press release just like you can hear unique, relevant content in a keynote. Who'd a thunk it.