Money

How Do You Measure the ROI On Your Social Media Investment with Andréa Jones

I invited Andréa Jones—host of the Savvy Social podcast, creator of the Savvy Social School, and an expert at social media—to talk all about measuring the ROI on your investments even if there isn’t a straight line from investment to payoff.

Susan Boles
September 22, 2020
32
 MIN
Podcast

You've decided to make an investment in your business. You evaluated the alternatives, you accepted the costs and you decided this particular investment was the right one for your business.

You're about to commit a significant chunk of time, money and resources to this. And, at least for now, you've decided this investment is worth investing in. 

But later down the road, you'll need to decide whether this was a good, helpful investment that moved your business forward—or if it ultimately didn't accomplish what you thought it would.

To evaluate your investment later on, you need to answer: what does success LOOK like? What will tell you that this investment WAS a success? What are the measurements for success?

Is it new clients? New leads? More efficiency? More profit? 

What are your GOALS for this investment and how will you know you've reached them? 

Sometimes that metrics piece can be a little fuzzy. There's usually a lot of intangible benefits that come from investments like Michelle Mazur talked about in episode 46 with her rebrand. Investing in that professional rebrand and website paid off in credibility, speaking engagements, clients and more. But sometimes that can be hard to get cold hard data on. 

Social media is one of those investments you can choose to make in your business where the ROI isn’t always super clear. That’s why I invited Andréa Jones—host of the Savvy Social podcast, creator of the Savvy Social School and an expert at social media—to talk all about measuring the ROI on your investments even if there isn’t a straight line from investment to payoff. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to measure and evaluate whether or not your social media strategy is "working"
  • How coaches, consultants, and service-based business owners can use social media as a tool for business connection
  • Why Andréa prefers tracking profile visits and link clicks over followers and engagement
  • How to evaluate your social media data—and why any strategy needs at least 3 months to see what works and what doesn’t

Links

Episode Transcript

Andrea Jones (00:00):

You're continuing to stay top of mind, continuing to show up and building partnerships, especially if you're a service-based business owner. For me, social media is about partnerships. I'm looking for people who have the same clients that I have or would want to have. And I'm making relationships with those people.

Susan Boles (00:22):

You've decided to make an investment in your business. You evaluated the alternatives, you accepted the costs, and you decided this particular investment was the right one for your business. You are about to commit a significant chunk of time, money, and resources to this. And at least for now, you've decided this investment is worth investing in. But later down the road, you are going to want to evaluate whether or not what you thought the payoff would actually happen. Somewhere down the road, you'll need to decide whether this was a good, helpful investment that moved your business forward, or if it ultimately didn't accomplish what you thought it would. And to make that evaluation later on, you need to start collecting the data now at the beginning. I'm Susan Boles, and you're listening to Break the Ceiling, the show where we break down unconventional strategies you can use to save time, boost your profit and increase your operational capacity.

Susan Boles (01:26):

If you want to figure out if an investment was worth it, whether you got a return on that investment, you need to evaluate it. You need to measure it. You need data, but that data doesn't magically appear later on when you want it to. In order to have good data to evaluate against, you need to start collecting it at the beginning. Your data-collection process is one of those foundational systems that you need to have in place first. To evaluate your investment later on, you need to decide now, when you're starting out, what does success look like? What will tell you that this investment was a success? What are the measurements for success? Is it new clients, new leads, more efficiency, more profit? What are your goals for this investment, and how will you know you've reached them?

Susan Boles (02:21):

Sometimes those goals might be financial, like more revenue or a specific number of new clients. Sometimes they might be operational goals, like becoming more efficient. Maybe you have goals around the actions you'll take to ensure that you've done everything you can to make this investment successful, like Jason Van Orden talked about in episode 33.

Susan Boles (02:43):

But heading into any investment, you want to lay that out. How long are you going to give this initiative before you start evaluating the success? What are the metrics you're going to measure? And sometimes, that metrics piece can be a little fuzzy, because there's usually a lot of intangible benefits that come from investments like Michelle Mazur talked about in episode 46, with her rebrand. Investing in that professional rebrand and website paid off in credibility, speaking engagements, clients and more, but sometimes that can be hard to get cold, hard data on.

Susan Boles (03:17):

That's what I'm talking to my guest today about. Meet Andrea Jones. She's the host of the Savvy Social podcast, the creator of the Savvy Social School and an expert at social media. And social media is one of those investments you can choose to make in your business where the ROI isn't really always crystal-clear. And that's what Andrea and I are going to talk about today. How do you measure the ROI on your investments even if there isn't really a straight line from investment to payoff? Hey Andrea, thanks so much for being here today.

Andrea Jones (03:52):

Oh, thank you so much for having me, Susan.

Susan Boles (03:54):

So, we're talking about return on investment and social media is one of those things in business that everyone feels like they should be doing, or they should be doing it better. But can you talk to me a little bit about your perspective on who should be investing in social media and who should maybe consider other options?

Andrea Jones (04:14):

Yeah, and I think that's a fair question because we compare ourselves to the influencers of the space. I'm thinking of Gary V in particular. The guy has a lot of energy. He does run an agency, so I know there are a lot of listeners who are service-based in that aspect, but just looking at him, sometimes you go, "That feels exhausting."

Susan Boles (04:40):

All the times. Every time I see him.

Andrea Jones (04:41):

Yeah, exactly. So I don't necessarily think that we have to be on all the time. And in fact, a lot of my advice and training is to reduce the amount of time we're spending on social. That being said, it does play a really nice role in the connection of business-building, and especially now as we're recording this. Being in a global pandemic, our ability to connect is somewhat limited and we have social media as a resource for that. So coaches, consultants, service-based business owners can use it as a place for connecting with those potential partners or potential clients. And so that's where I think social media has a role, and where it plays. Oftentimes the actual conversion piece, so someone actually giving you money for the thing that you do, happens elsewhere in a consultation call, in an email somewhere. But oftentimes social media is a great first point of connection and then ongoing staying top of mind piece.

Susan Boles (05:49):

So social, a lot like podcasting, like you're talking about, it can be one of those things that can be a little difficult or fuzzy to track the true return on, because a lot of it is just impressions, people getting familiar with you, understanding what you do. But they actually convert somewhere else, if they do, and so it can be hard to attribute that to your efforts in social media. So say that you decide to go all-in on social media and when you make that decision, when you're looking at the time-commitment and the effort and the platforms, what are metrics that are important to measure or other factors to consider upfront so that you can go back later on and evaluate, was that a worthwhile investment?

Andrea Jones (06:41):

Absolutely. And the easy one to look at is followers, right? Followers we look at, "Oh, we have so many followers on social media," or "I want to get to 10,000 Instagram followers," but oftentimes it's not a great metric to see if you're successful or not. Now let me back up and say it does have some bearing, right? Obviously when you see someone to connect with and they've got 50,000 followers, you may think in your head they're providing some value. Their value goes up, perhaps. But oftentimes as a business owner, where we see the value is in metrics like profile visits or profile views, sometimes called page views, where people actually leave the feeds, where they're hanging out on social media and they're looking at our profile, almost like our mini social media website. And so oftentimes that's a better indication of interest.

Andrea Jones (07:41):

And I'll give an example for one of my clients who is a coach for women going through divorce, and so they may not follow her. But if they're looking at her profile, typically something caught their eye to get them there. So that's a really good metric to keep track of. Am I being consistent or growing my profile visits every month? Another metric to look at is website clicks or link clicks, because some of those metrics also indicate a huge level of interest, specifically on a platform like Instagram. It's not easy to get to those links on Instagram. They usually have to click on over to your profile, then maybe click something in your bio, that one link you get, and then they're over to where they're wanting to go. So if they're going through those steps, typically that means they're highly interested in what you're offering or what you're talking about. So typically when we're starting measuring the success of our social media campaigns, I'd much rather you look at something like profile visits and website clicks versus followers and engagement.

Susan Boles (09:01):

So are there any other factors outside of metrics that you should take into consideration when you're trying to evaluate a decision of, should I invest in this thing? Is this worth my time or my effort for my business? Maybe it's platform by platform, or just generally things that aren't measurable. Does that make sense?

Andrea Jones (09:29):

Yeah, it does. And I almost think of this like starting to build like a friend circle. It's hard to say, "Oh, that friend is worth more than the other." Right? But I think we sometimes do that on social media, where we have this sense of, "Oh, if this one person were connected to me, that would be the end goal." But oftentimes you're continuing to stay top-of-mind, continuing to show up and building partnerships, especially if you're a service-based business owner.

Andrea Jones (09:59):

So I'll give an example for my own business. I run a social media business and a lot of my clients are not on social media. That's why they would hire me. They're not hanging out on Instagram mostly. They don't like social media or they just find it too time-consuming. So for me, social media is about partnerships. I'm looking for people who have the same clients that I have or would want to have, and I'm making relationships with those people. And that's where my referral business comes in.

Andrea Jones (10:31):

So I did a mini campaign one time. I wanted to work with more podcasters, so I started connecting with podcast agencies and podcast editors. And so for me, the value there was being able to search and connect with these people in a way that wasn't as pushy as a cold email, because I was following them. And then I'd like and comment a few of their posts, and then I'd send them a direct message and say, "Hey, I think we have the same clients. Let's figure out how we can refer business to each other." So it felt a little more organic because of that. And so I think sometimes that connection is hard to put an ROI on, on social media, but I think it's invaluable to have those partners in your business.

Susan Boles (11:22):

Yeah, absolutely. I think it's interesting that... It sounds like for you, your approach is really to use social media as what it was originally intended for, as a network, one big conference that we're all at, to be able to actually establish real connections and relationships. Versus what we sometimes think of it as, as more of like a publishing platform, and just putting the information out into the world and it's just going to magically happen.

Andrea Jones (11:52):

Yeah, exactly. And I think that's sometimes the missing piece, especially as business owners. I mean, I will be the first to admit, we don't have time to be playing around on social media all day. And so sometimes it's easier just to put our offer up, and then that's where we get disappointed with the results of it, because we just put stuff up there, like you said, a publishing platform, and we're like, "I'm not seeing any return on this." And oftentimes it's because we're missing that connection piece. We're using it as a giant billboard.

Susan Boles (12:24):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Totally. Okay. So let's talk timelines, because when we are deciding on something to invest in, knowing how long you need to invest in a particular initiative or campaign is a really important part of the evaluation process of deciding whether or not something is worth investing in. And also, have you given that thing enough time? So when I started the podcast, for me, it was knowing that I was going to invest in it a hundred percent for a year, because it was a really long payoff and I wanted to give it time to really be able to measure, is it working? Is it something useful? And I think social media is very similar. So how long do you think you need to invest in social media before you can really make that decision of if it's worth it or not?

Andrea Jones (13:20):

Yeah. So I do want to point out something before I dive into the time, and I think you hit it on the head with the podcast goal, is that you have an outcome at the end that you're looking for. And sometimes even if it's hard to quantify, I think it is important to go in with an outcome in mind. That being said, with social media, I recommend at least three months minimum if you're trying a specific campaign or strategy, before you make any changes. But if you are talking about social media in general, I think a year is a great length of time to give a strategy a chance. But typically after three months, we're looking at the data to see what works and what didn't, and we can start tweaking things from there. So the three month mark, you have 90 days of data. You can look at things, like I said the profile visits. "Okay, so we saw these going down," or something like that, or, "We saw the profile visits go up, but we didn't see followers. We didn't see website clicks. So that means the wrong people are looking at the profile." So you can make some educated assumptions about the data after about three months, and then you can start evaluating and adjusting your strategy based on that.

Susan Boles (14:41):

That makes sense, because I think oftentimes when we invest in social media or podcasting or a new offer, a lot of times we tend to pull the plug. We get impatient. Nobody has responded to this thing that I put out there, and we pull the plug sometimes before we've really given it enough time to actually show us any information, tell us anything about whatever it is we are trying to accomplish. And so I love thinking about how long is legitimate. So for you or for your clients, when, if ever, do you decide that you completely pull the plug? When do you decide, "Hey, we have tried this. This is just something that is not worth investing in for our particular business." Maybe, "Our people aren't on Instagram," or, "LinkedIn is a better network for us and we're going to go full-bore in there." How do you make the decision to pull the plug?

Andrea Jones (15:46):

Yeah. I actually have a really good example for this. One of my clients is a therapist for parents of teenagers. So that moody teenage year. They've been parenting for a long time and they're still trying to figure out basically the evolving person that they're raising. And so we put quite a bit of effort into a Pinterest strategy, because there are a lot of parents on Pinterest, especially moms and grand-moms. And so we put a lot of effort into a Pinterest strategy, and we actually saw quite a bit of website traffic coming in from Pinterest. But when we dug deeper into the data, that website traffic was hanging out on the website for two seconds, three seconds, not a long time. So even though the web traffic was of a high quantity, the quality was awful.

Andrea Jones (16:40):

Whereas the other platforms where we were spending time, we were on Facebook and we were on Instagram, we actually saw folks from Facebook spending one minute, two minutes on the website, which is a really decent amount of time. They were opting into the offers that we had a little bit more, the free offers. And so we actually found that Pinterest, even though it was driving a ton of traffic, we were spending way too much time there for what we were getting from it.

Andrea Jones (17:09):

So we stopped. We stopped that Pinterest strategy about a year in, maybe a bit over a year in, and we switched to LinkedIn at that point to test out another platform. And he, at the time, was testing out another angle as well of connecting with treatment centers and things like that so he could start speaking. So we pivoted and adjusted the strategy from there. So there is a high-level if-this-isn't-working pivot, but also dig deeper into those numbers, because I do hear a lot of people talking about Pinterest and the traffic that it drives in. Don't get me wrong, it does send a lot of traffic, but oftentimes there's people just clicking around and looking and not really ready to commit.

Andrea Jones (17:55):

I will add to that and say another client that we have, we've found success by combining strategies. So we noticed that the Pinterest traffic wasn't converting, but we created this omnipresent strategy where they hit the website from Pinterest and where we're targeting them on YouTube, Facebook and in Google ads. So they feel like they saw something once and now we are everywhere. You've probably had that happen to you before, where you just look up something and...

Susan Boles (18:23):

Yes.

Andrea Jones (18:25):

Sorry, that's marketers messing up things, but you know, that kind of strategy can be very effective, because someone feels like they just thought of something and now it's everywhere. So just combining strategies as well, and getting more complex with your campaigns, can help you get more results.

Susan Boles (18:43):

So let's say you've done the work, you've invested the timeline. How are you really evaluating whether or not your investment has paid off, whether that's on a specific campaign or on a platform or just social media in general? What factors are you looking at when you're evaluating that investment for clients and helping them interpret the data, or for your own business?

Andrea Jones (19:15):

Yeah. And it is tough. I will say investing in hiring someone on your team to manage social media or hiring an agency or something like that, it's a tough investment because it's almost like hiring a customer service representative, where they may not be actually making more money directly in the business, but you know that they're helping by saving time, they're helping facilitate client conversations that maybe they're better-suited to facilitate. So it's almost a little bit of an intangible investment sometimes. I would say the exception is paid advertising. There's a direct line to monetary ROI with paid advertising.

Andrea Jones (20:00):

But if we're talking about organic social media, when we're talking about the investment, we're talking more so along the lines of reputation management. We're talking about legacy as a business owner. So for instance, one of my clients in the wellness space did a massive book launch. She didn't quite meet her goal as far as books sold, but I was able to show her on the reports, we had over 200 million people looking at our content in some form or fashion. And that's impressive. That's a huge number. And so even just something like that, there's people out there who had never heard of you before, who heard of you just right now. So even if they didn't purchase now, they at least know that you exist now, and so we're planting the seed for future potential profit. So there is a bit of discussion with clients and even with myself and some of the team I've hired in my business for the almost intangible ROI of having someone manage social media, because it is hard to prove.

Andrea Jones (21:15):

There are things that I like to view as metrics along the way. And I've talked about profile views and website clicks, but oftentimes we're analyzing the sales funnel itself. So especially if you are... Let's say you're a coach and you've got a membership program or something like that. You probably have a lead magnet, whether that be a PDF, a video series, a webinar, where we can say, "Okay, based on what we shared on Facebook, we saw five new people enter the funnel here." And so sometimes that's also very valuable, because those five people now have a potential to become monetary returns on investment, depending on how strong the funnel is. So from a social media perspective, we're providing you with new people, new attention, to go through and take action on whatever your offer is.

Susan Boles (22:13):

So really you are looking at a lot of different sources of data. They might not all live in the same place, and sometimes you have to look at pieces of data from one part of your business and then see what the impacts are. And they might not be directly related. But I think there's real power when it comes to looking at all of the data in your business and seeing what's happening generally, because there's so many things as business owners that we're investing in that don't often have a direct return on investment. Either social media or a podcast or just general networking activity, all of those things eventually probably do contribute to more sales and more people knowing about you, but being able to exactly track that back and say, "This person came from a Facebook post from two years ago," is just hard sometimes. So I love the idea of looking at a lot of the intangible benefits and taking those into account when we're making our decision or evaluating how worthy our investment was.

Andrea Jones (23:30):

Yeah. And I'll add to that to say that with tools like Google Analytics, there are some things you can track. I think that it depends on how you have it set up, but you can track, for instance, if a sale came in from an Instagram story, for instance. Even if they signed up for your mailing list first, and then they purchased three days later, depending on how complex you have that set up, you can do it. I will say I haven't really dove into that realm yet, but one of my favorite people, Rita Berry, does this fantastically where she has Google Studios set up... And we shared a few clients in the past, so that's how I know this. Where she can actually track all of this data on the back end.

Andrea Jones (24:23):

You do have to have some fancy tech setups, I believe, but it was interesting to see, these are the people that came in from social. But I don't know how long you can track that for. So if someone came in two years later, it may be hard to track that specifically, but yeah, there are some ways you can track what I call the assist, where it may not be... Oh, I'm going to try to use a sports analogy here. Hold on. It may not have been a direct layup basketball shot, but they pass the ball to the person who then got the layup.

Susan Boles (25:01):

I like that. I think everything that we're doing in our business probably does have an impact somewhere else. And so I always like to think of investments as time. Even if what you were originally intending it to be was a total failure, at least you learn something. And I think that should also be part of the evaluation process. I'm definitely one of those people that nothing was ever really a failure. It was all a learning experience. It's all just more data to figure out what to do next.

Andrea Jones (25:39):

Yes. I love that. I love that perspective.

Susan Boles (25:42):

So we've bounced around a little bit today, but is there anything you think we should talk about that we haven't really touched on yet?

Andrea Jones (25:50):

I think oftentimes for especially service-based business owners and coaches and folks in those industries, we've put a lot of value, almost too much value, on the importance of social media. And don't get me wrong. It is very important to the business. But also, we have a lot of things to do in our business. One of my recent coaches, Rachel Rodgers, labels this as tasks having a monetary value. So if you are the CEO, the founder, the person of your business, there are some tasks that are worth $10,000. There are some tasks that are worth $100. And social media is one of those tasks where you can eventually outsource it so that you can focus on the $10,000 tasks, the strategic side of building a business, the side the only you can do. And so I do think that there is a value in considering that, and especially if you're the one doing all of the things. So one of the things I suggest is minimizing your time. Spend only about two or three hours a week on social, and then work towards finding out how you can either outsource it or outsource other things so that you can spend more time on social media.

Susan Boles (27:13):

I like that. So where can our listeners find you if they want to connect or learn more about what you do?

Andrea Jones (27:20):

Ah, yes. So obviously I'm on social media everywhere, but you can find me @onlinedrea, that's online D-R-E-A, and I'm loving Instagram right now, specifically Instagram stories. So I'd love to connect with you there.

Susan Boles (27:39):

Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. This was really a great conversation. I really enjoyed it.

Andrea Jones (27:44):

Thanks so much for having me.

Susan Boles (27:47):

Evaluating your investments to figure out what the real return was is a critical part of making investments. That evaluation is what gives you feedback about the quality of your decisions, and that feedback is important because it helps you make better decisions the next time. Examining the return and trying to understand the worth of your investment helps you become a better investor, a better decision-maker. You'll learn from your mistakes. You'll learn what works for your business and what doesn't. But if you don't evaluate your decisions, you never get that feedback and then you never get to learn. Setting clear timelines and goals for your investment upfront can help you make sure you understand what success will look like later on. And it makes sure that you can also know what actions you need to take to give this investment a real shot at success.

Susan Boles (28:41):

So don't skip the set-up. Don't skip the step where you figure out what success will look like, because that's where you figure out what data you need to collect. That's where you get your benchmarks to measure against. Without those, you'll get to the end and want to answer the question, was it worth it? And you won't be able to.

Susan Boles (29:02):

Next week is a special week. It's episode 50 of Break the Ceiling, and I thought I'd do something a little different to celebrate. One of the questions I get most frequently is about this podcast and they want to know, is it worth it? So next week, that's what we're talking about. I'll take you behind the scenes of my decision to invest in this podcast and how I'm evaluating the success of it after 50 episodes and the whole first year. So hit subscribe in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss it.

Susan Boles (29:36):

Is it worth it? Every small business owner wants to know that the money they spend on their businesses is worth it, that their investments produce results and help them grow. But if you don't know your business finances in and out, it's hard to know whether those expenses and investments are really worth it. Plenty of business owners, even the successful ones, feel like they're shooting in the dark when it comes to how they spend, save and invest their money. Like you, they wonder if the ads they're buying, the software they're investing in or the people they're paying are really paying off. And that's stressful. Feeling unsure about how you're spending or investing your money might be common, but it sure isn't fun.

Susan Boles (30:23):

I want something different for you. I want you to feel confident that every decision you make is guided by your financial intel. I want you to be able to decide what actions to take to grow your business from a place of confidence and purpose, not panic, so that you can feel masterful at managing your money, instead of inept or just plain scared. I want you to know exactly what's working so you can go all-in and make your money make more money.

Susan Boles (30:51):

This is what I do for business owners when I step in as their chief financial officer on demand. I help them parse the numbers, look for opportunities and invest where it counts. We get clear on where they're getting in their own way, and where the math just doesn't add up. And now I want to teach you to do the same for your own business, because trust me, you can.

Susan Boles (31:14):

Join me for Think Like A CFO. It's a four-month accelerator online workshop and small group coaching program where I'll work alongside you so you can start thinking like a CFO and know that every penny you spend on your business is worth it. You'll dig into your relationship to money, put your financial data at your fingertips and build systems of cash flow, taxes and budgeting. I'll help you integrate your financial knowledge into your operational systems and technology so that your whole business works better. And by the end, you'll feel wildly capable with your money. Think Like A CFO is starting soon. So go to scalespark.co/cfo to get all the information and sign up. I can't wait to work with you. Break the Ceiling is produced by Yellow House Media. Our production coordinator is Sean McMullin. This episode is edited by [Marty Seifeld 00:32:05] with production assistance by [Kristin Runwick 00:00:32:08].


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