I'm frequently asked about how to best track ROI on social media marketing efforts. My answer is that social media ROI is next to impossible to figure. That may sound like a cop-out, but it's the truth.
The benefits of reaching out and connecting with your customers via social mediums are intangible. How do you extrapolate the ROI from participating in a conversation on a message board or blog, where you cleared up some negative misinformation about your brand or product in an honest, transparent and meaningful way? You can't measure that.
Sure, there are basic metrics that you can track on your website or blog, like clickthroughs, referrals, bounce rates and user sessions, but there is no metric for being part of an online conversation with your customers.
There are other ways to gauge success. Maybe it's increased visitor engagement and participation, which could take the form of more user comments on your blog posts, or more consumer-generated content (photos, videos, etc.) uploaded to your brand's Facebook Page.
Embarking on a social media campaign can force you to re-think how you visualize success.
It's a very back-to-basics approach, similar to the intangible fundamentals of really good customer service: going out of your way to listen to your customer's needs, and being able to respond to those needs quickly.
Your return on investment: Loyal, life-long customers.