Who Says You Can’t Measure Social Media ROI?

In the lineup at this year’s SHSMD annual conference was a presentation by Dean Browell, Ph.D.  I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Dean this year on SHSMD’s Emerging Media Task Force, which he chairs, on the development of the SHSMD Emerging Media Handbook, and in the companion SHSMD U course this summer.

He’s a thought leader on social media use and I’d been looking forward to hearing him speak on measuring social media.

While the measurement of subscribers (friends, followers, likes, etc.) in social media has become commonplace, more meaningful measurement is a necessary component for building impactful social media engagement programs.

To begin, you should have a target to shoot for.  Goals should be built based on audiences and what you hope to accomplish with those audiences. Social media outreach efforts should then be organized around those goals (service line growth or donor engagement) rather than the tactical efforts employed (Facebook, Twitter or blogging).

For example, more subscribers are rarely a bad thing, but the benefit of those subscribers can vary greatly.  A pile of multi-level marketers following you on Twitter are unlikely to help you with your goals.  Real insights come from digging more deeply into the data.

Dr. Browell recommends four keys to success in social media efforts:

  • Silo at your own risk – Social media is far less impactful when executed in a vacuum.
  • Listen and choose smart – Spend time understanding the audiences that you’re looking to reach, where and how they spend their social media time, and what they say about your organization.
  • Track, tweak, track, repeat – Social media moves and changes incredibly fast.  A continuous cycle of monitoring and adjusting strategy and messaging is a great way to make the most of your campaigns.
  • You won’t get “R” without “I” – Social media is not free.  Some of the tools and platforms may be free, but the strategy and implementation of social media programs take resources.


While the tactics for social media may be different than for traditional media, the planning and thought that go into them are, in many ways, not so different.  The simplicity of diving into the tools doesn’t mean that the core research, planning and message development process that you would undertake with other marketing efforts shouldn’t also be applied in the realm of new media.

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Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

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