As part of our commitment to an honest, transparent service, we often find ourselves talking to prospective new clients about the return they can expect on their social media investment. We want to understand their expectations – what do they think social media will do, what other business growth strategies have they invested in, and so on – so that we can ensure they’ll be happy with the outcomes of our work.

These conversations often throw up some unexpected results. We’re frequently surprised by the number of businesses who’ve happily thrown  thousands of pounds at various marketing activities. From online directory listings to print media or high quality printed collateral, significant investments have been made without any attempt to quantify the returns, often just because “it’s what you do”. Social media is not quite yet “what you do” for businesses in the UK (although it is fast becoming so), so business owners are perhaps more demanding in terms of metrics and measurement.

So, can you measure social media ROI for a business? We’d give a qualified “yes” to that in almost all cases, and a definite, cast iron, pounds shillings and pence “yes” to some.

To explain. The qualified yes comes from the fact that – unlike with, say, untracked advertising – it is always possible to at least quantify the impact that social media based work is having. For example, for one of our clients, the level of engagement (comments, likes, etc) on their Facebook page has increased by more than 300% in the two months since we began working with them on strategy and management. For another, a significant Twitter audience – genuine local businesses and people who have an interest in their product, not just random “we follow anyone” types and bots – has been targeted and built.

Translating those into an exact monetary figure is hard, although logically in both cases the increased engagement and awareness can only be good for business. It’s hard to deny the fact that something concrete has happened between that business and their customer / prospect base which wouldn’t otherwise have done. For some of our clients, engagement and visibility is their key objective from working with us in any case, and the metrics we provide around their accounts prove that this is happening much more conclusively than magazine readership figures or hits on a web page which also happens to feature their banner ad.

Then there are those cast iron “yes”s. One example is the client for whom we were able to set up meetings with potential stockists of their product, through the work we did for them on Twitter. Those meetings would not otherwise have happened, and any resulting business can be directly attributed to their social media strategy.

We have other clients working with high value services where one additional prospect getting in touch as a result of “seeing them around” on one of the social media platforms, will pay our fees for several months – and of course, we aim to exceed that.

If case studies are your thing, here is a great collection which, if nothing else, shows the many and varied forms that social media ROI can take!

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what ROI you expect from social media, too – will nothing short of pounds onto your bottom line satisfy you, or do you have other aims?