Social media continues to grow as consumers and companies create and share content across a variety of channels. A Nielsen study found that 20 percent of online time is spent on social media sites. This percentage goes up an additional 10 percent when Nielsen looked at mobile Internet habits. You've probably created profiles to establish an online presence on every social media site relevant to your company, pouring time, money, and manpower into engaging your audience. The question is, are you actually getting a good return on investment (ROI) out of your social media marketing campaigns? Establishing social media market metrics, tracking your links, and paying attention to response rates is essential to determining your ROI.

Establish Social Media Marketing Goals

What are your goals with social media marketing? Are you driving sign-ups for a white paper? Do you want to generate interest in trade shows you're attending? Do you have an e-commerce store for direct sales or B2B clients? Establishing your social media marketing goals provides the foundation for determining whether you get a quality ROI from your campaigns.

Try splitting your metrics into a few categories: sales, lead generation, sharing, and consumption. The data pulled from these metrics gives you solid information on the actions users take after looking at social media advertisements. If a metric doesn't fall under one of these categories, it won't have as much of an impact on your bottom line. These goals also serve as a guideline for keeping your social media marketing goals aligned with your overall business goals.

After establishing your general marketing goals, put hard numbers on each campaign. How many leads do you want to generate with a specific marketing effort? What are your overall sales goals for the campaign? What are you willing to spend on cost per acquisition efforts while still pulling in a net profit? Answer these questions before you launch your major B2B social marketing campaigns to have much more effective results.

Social Analytic Tools

The analytic tool you use is determined by your tracking needs, your application budget, and feature requirements. Google Analytics is a standard go-to for tracking many stats. It's especially useful if you already use Google Adwords for any part of your marketing efforts. Google understands the importance of social media marketing, so they have an entire section for social referrals.

While Google Analytics tracks a significant amount of data, the Conversions, Landing Pages, and Network Referrals statistics are the most useful for determining ROI. Simply Measured provides a wholly social media-focused tool to track the major players in this industry. It integrates with Google Analytics but provides plenty of its own features such as competitor analysis, social monitoring, channel comparisons, and auto generated reports. It also provides a wide range of report visualizations so it's easier to figure out how well you're performing.

Social media may replace word of mouth in many situations, but that doesn't mean you should throw all thoughts of positive ROI out the window to secure this traffic. The effort you put into establishing social media marketing goals and the effectiveness of your campaigns provides you with valuable ROI data. Not only does establishing minimum acceptable ROI percentages help save you money, it also gives you insight into finding the best social media sites to reach your B2B clients.