Social media ROI is the bane of many marketers’ lives. More than one-third of social media professionals admit they find ROI reporting “challenging,” while an astonishing 92% admit they are at least somewhat concerned about the return they generate from social media marketing.

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If you’re in the same league of lost marketers, here’s something you need to understand:

Despite social media’s growing role in driving sales, it continues to be a place where people come to interact with friends and family. So, while brands and marketers can participate in the conversation unobtrusively, they can’t hijack it. They must find clever ways to sneak in their messaging without disrupting the user experience.

But how?

First, you need to define “social media ROI.” What does the term mean for you – direct sales, awareness, authority, traffic, or something else? Your answer will govern your metrics and strategies.

Then, you need to come to terms with one more fact. There are no quick fixes to improve your ROI; you need to think long-term.

Traditionally, social media ROI was tied to direct sales. Marketers largely ignored awareness and consideration-stage content in favor of purchase-oriented content. They focused on attribution instead of contribution.

However, we know social media’s real value is in the initial stages of the buyer journey. Audiences are sick of self-promotional content.

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They would prefer brands to be more relatable on social media.

So, looking at social media ROI only from the sales perspective is misleading. If you can expand awareness, tell your brand’s story compellingly, and demonstrate that you speak the same language as your target audience, you can consider yourself a “social success.”



Now that I’ve sorted out common misconceptions about social media ROI, it’s time to discuss ROI growth-hacking tips. Let’s get started.

How Can You Multiply Your Social Media ROI?

1. Measure Your Current Social Media ROI

When working on your social media ROI, determine how you currently fare. You need to audit your social media efforts.

So, where do you begin?

The first step is to define the goals of your social media marketing. According to a HubSpot survey, the top objectives for social marketers are to:

  • Increase revenue and sales (cited by 23% of respondents)
  • Improve the customer experience (19%)
  • Increase brand awareness and reach new audiences (19%)
  • Increase engagement (18%)
  • Improve sales/marketing alignment (16%)

So, if sales are top of your wishlist as well, you should measure metrics like:

  • Click-through rate
  • Revenue from social
  • Return on ad spend

Likewise, if you aim for brand awareness, track follower counts, impressions, mentions, and shares.

In short, your goals will govern the metrics and KPIs you measure.

Next, calculate your social media marketing costs, which include:

  • License costs of software solutions you’ve subscribed to to make your job easier. These can be platforms for publishing, analysis, automation, curation, chatbots, etc.
  • Content creation expenses and staff salaries for videography, graphic design, and social media marketing.
  • Promotion expenses, including influencer fees, affiliate commissions, advertising costs, etc.

Then, deduct the total costs from the total revenue to determine your profit. The profit percentage will be your ROI.

Sounds complicated, right?

You can use social media ROI calculators found in analytics tools like UTM Parameters and Google Analytics.

It’s worth noting that ROI calculation is not a one-time deal. Consistent ROI tracking helps you identify effective strategies, tools, platforms, influencers, and content.

2. Leverage Influencers

Influencers can help you achieve all of your social media marketing goals. They can grow your reach, credibility, authority and even drive sales. That’s why it makes sense to partner with influencers to boost your ROI.

You can hire influencers to promote your brand through sponsored content, reviews, contests, shout-outs, and account takeovers. In fact, 37% of consumers say they trust social media influencers more than brands, with Gen Z and Millennial-aged shoppers found to be two times more likely than Baby Boomers to trust influencers.

Partnering with industry experts and thought leaders can establish credibility, attract new followers/customers/investors, and beat the competition.

Since influencers are more relatable than celebrities, their content touches people’s hearts. Their follower relationships are authentic and deep. As a result, the traffic they produce has a high conversion potential.

If your social media ROI revolves around sales, influencers can help you there, too. Over one-quarter of consumers say they discover new products and brands through influencer recommendations, while about one in seven turn to influencers to inform their purchasing decisions.

What’s more, influencers are ace content creators and marketers. You can use their unique voices and styles to tell compelling brand stories.

Now you know why influencer marketing rocks. But, to derive all of its benefits, you need to partner with the right influencers. Your influencer’s niche and personal values should match yours. If their followers fit your ideal customer personas, you get access to a ready-made, engaged audience base.

3. Build a Solid Affiliate Marketing Program

You can run an affiliate program to drive traffic, engagement, and sales.

How does it work?

  • You recruit affiliates to place your links on their websites, social media pages, and emails.
  • You might need to train affiliates about product promotion or be ready to pay higher commissions for experienced affiliates.
  • You track each affiliate’s performance and pay them a commission (flat or recurring) on the sales/conversions they generate through their links.

Affiliate marketing is most profitable when you have high customer retention rates. If your customer acquisition costs are low, you’ll have more disposable income to entice more resultful affiliates. The carrot-and-stick approach can motivate affiliates to work harder for you.

Select your affiliates wisely. Your affiliates should have substantial social following, engagement, and authority on the platforms you want to target. Like influencers, your affiliates should be from the same niche as you. For instance, hiring a fashionista blogger as an affiliate would be natural and profitable if you own an apparel brand.

Need inspiration?

Nordstrom has one of the best affiliate marketing programs around. They often hire niche influencers as affiliates. To give an authentic flavor to its affiliate marketing, the brand provides its affiliates with some of its products to try out.


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A post shared by Nordstrom Rack (@nordstromrack)

Affiliates can pick and choose their favorites to promote, helping them recommend the most relevant products to their followers — which (hopefully) means more clicks and sales and a higher social media ROI.

4. Build Brand Loyalty with Discounts and Coupons

Social media users love coupons and discounts. Almost half of consumers follow brands on social to gain access to exclusive deals or promotions.

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Discounts and coupons are helpful for enticing first-time buyers as well as scoring repeat sales.

Yes, you heard me right. Do you hope to win repeat conversions based on customer satisfaction alone? I hate to burst your bubble, but “satisfied customers” do not necessarily mean “loyal customers.”

Modern customers will shop from whichever brand gives them a better deal unless you lock in their loyalty through incentives like coupons and discounts. In technical terms, this is called loyalty marketing.

If you can meet the expectations of deal seekers, you can multiply your social media ROI effectively.

Like ModCloth below, you can post a juicy discount now and then to catch the attention of dormant buyers and grab new eyeballs.


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A post shared by ModCloth (@modcloth)

5. Invest in Social Media Ads

To get a quick bang for your buck, go the advertising route. Social media ads provide you with a targeted reach that organic content lacks. They also come in handy for A/B testing content, platforms, and audience segments.

Many social platforms exist, but that doesn’t mean you should advertise everywhere. Pick the platforms where your target audience is most concentrated, accessible, and engaged.

For instance, if you target teens and tweens, Snapchat and TikTok may be your best bets. Moms, on the other hand, love Instagram and Facebook.

That said, advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube almost always generates assured returns since they have a vast, diverse user base.

After deciding on the platforms, consider the ad format you want to use. Try to go with formats that have an organic look and feel, just like this story-style ad that Sephora ran on Facebook and Instagram:

Watch ad here

If you’re looking for high-converting Facebook ads, video is the way to go. Video ads have more scope for experimentation than static ads and are more engaging.

Let’s say you want to promote a dance coaching class. The best way to showcase it may be through video ads.

Apart from these formats, you can create Carousel ads (to bundle multiple images), Story ads, Messenger ads, and more. Pick formats that deliver good value for money while considering the following best practices:

  • Regardless of the format you choose, take care of the following points while crafting your ads:
  • Ensure that your ad copy is persuasive and crisp.
  • Include a prominent call-to-action (CTA) such as “Learn More,” “Buy Now, ” etc., so that people know the following steps to take.
  • Avoid a salesy tone.
  • Include user-generated content (UGC) as social proof in ads. It’s compelling and non-promotional.

6. Leverage User-Generated Content

Speaking of user-generated content…

UGC effectively allows you to use your customers as billboards (with their consent). Instead of boasting about yourself through costly ads, let your customers do it for you. UGC is more believable and authentic, not to mention FREE.

Need evidence?

Four in five consumers say they would be more inclined to buy from a brand if it incorporated more user-generated content into its marketing initiatives. At the same time, almost nine in 10 are more likely to trust brands that share UGC.

While incorporating UGC, remember to be completely transparent in the credits. Also, don’t shirk from sharing negative user feedback as well. Customers appreciate honesty in brands. That’s why brands like J.Crew let customer reviews take center stage on their website.

Image via J.Crew

To collect UGC at scale, you can create exclusive hashtag campaigns on social media.

Action camera brand GoPro nails this tactic, regularly asking followers to share their favorite images and videos (captured with a GoPro, of course) using branded hashtags like #GoProLineOfTheWinter.


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A post shared by GoPro (@gopro)

They featured the best of the bunch on their branded social pages.

7. Laser-Focus Your Targeting

Creating or curating stellar content is no use if you don’t target it precisely and promptly. Targeting can make all the difference when you want your content to shine on saturated social media platforms.

So, how do you get started?

First, take a close look at your audience demographics. Find out where your audience is most active. Then, accelerate your marketing on those platforms.

For instance, if your target demographic consists mainly of millennials and Gen-Zers, you should focus on platforms with younger-skewing audiences, like Instagram and TikTok.

Then, dig into the engagement rates of various content types on your target platforms. You will get a fair idea about the content you should create to grab attention.

For example, Reels have the highest average engagement rate of any content type on Instagram, followed by carousels and standard image posts:

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Last, find the best days and times to post using social media marketing tools like Hootsuite or Buffer. You can improve your content’s organic reach by aligning your marketing with platform algorithms.

To precision-focus your reach, filter the timings by audience demographics. This way, your posts appear in your target audience’s feeds when they are most likely to see them.

8. Capitalize on Shoppable Features

Social media has transformed from a shopping enabler to a shopping driver.

People are discovering and researching new brands/products through social media and directly buying from within social platforms. Indeed, one-third of all consumers (and three-fifths of Gen-Zers) now use social media to discover new brands and products, while one in seven shoppers have bought a new product after finding it on social.

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Social selling is one of the most efficient ways to improve social media ROI. To do it, use the shoppable features available within your target platforms.

Like what?

Instagram supports social e-commerce by providing features like Shopping tags, Shopping ads, Instagram Checkout, Live Shopping, etc.

Facebook, on the other hand, has Facebook Shops and Messenger.

Facebook Shops allow you to build a store, add products, sell directly, manage orders, and administer ads. Messenger allows you to use artificial intelligence-powered chatbots to sell to consumers. Take a look at Sephora’s Reservation Assistant bot, which lets people book makeover appointments right from Facebook.

SephoraG€™s Reservation Assistant bot that lets people book makeover appointments right from Facebook

Image via Facebook

With Pinterest, you can upload your catalog and get a shop tab showing all your products. You can also run shopping ads and use buyable Pins or rich Pins.

9. Create a Personal Connection with Consumers

Social media is all about conversing with your consumers. You need to look for opportunities to interact with people on impersonal platforms. The more you interact with them, the better your chances of becoming their preferred brand.

But how can you reach out to consumers?

You can create quizzes and surveys to gain insights about your audiences and personalize social commerce. Take a cue from Sephora’s “Fragrance Quiz.”

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The quiz ends with product recommendations based on each user’s answers. The brand creates an experience akin to in-store shopping via a playful quiz. They also learn about their consumers’ tastes and preferences, which helps them refine their targeting.

Two, you can make your website social-friendly. Add social buttons to let visitors share their carts, reviews, and recommendations with friends and followers.

Letting fans share their love demonstrates how much you value them. Plus, you tighten the community and establish your credibility.

Need an example?

Take a look at Oreo’s marketing strategy. They do a double whammy by letting people customize their cookies and share their creations on social media.

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You can’t get more personal than that!

10. A/B Test Content To Boost Engagement

As we’ve already discussed, the phrase “social media ROI” means different things to different brands.

But, according to a Hootsuite survey, engagement is the clear #1 way for marketers to demonstrate that their social media strategy is delivering the desired return on investment.

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It’s easy to see why:

If people are engaging with your social content, there’s a good chance they like what you’re saying (or at least find the topic interesting). The more they engage, the more often they’ll see your posts — ensuring you’re at the front of their minds when they’re ready to buy something.

Okay, so if engagement is the goal, how can you improve it?

The smart approach is to A/B test your content strategy to help you understand what plays best with your audience.

For example, Hootsuite shared an experiment — run via the vintage home decor account Dwelling on the Past — to determine if Instagram Reels are more engaging than carousels.

Every week for three weeks, they created two sets of posts (six carousels, six Reels) containing similar content, shared them simultaneously, and then checked back 48 hours later to assess which content saw the highest reach and engagement.

The result: carousels reached more people and attracted more likes, comments, shares, and saves.

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Still, that might not be the case for your audience, so running your own tests is essential to see what works.

11. Measure Yourself Against the Competition

Sometimes, it can be tough for marketers to understand if their social media ROI is good, bad, or indifferent. Should you be satisfied with your results? Or tearing your hair out and ripping up your entire strategy?

One of the best ways to bring some context to your results is to measure yourself against your competitors using industry benchmarks.

For example, benchmark data from RivalIQ shows that fashion brands see an average engagement rate per post of 0.018% – 1.41%, varying by platform:

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You can use this information to understand what you’re getting right and identify opportunities for improvement.

For instance, if your click-through rate is lower than your industry average, you could focus on improving your calls-to-action — thereby boosting your ROI.

12. Use Social Media for Lead Generation

Regarding delivering a return on investment, one channel stands head and shoulders above the rest: email.

On average, email marketing programs generate $36 for every $1 spent. Using your social media channels for lead generation makes sense by encouraging your followers to sign up for your email newsletter.

That way, whenever you launch a sale or release a new product, you can send the news straight to your audience’s email inboxes, reducing your reliance on temperamental social algorithms.

Soft drink brand Recess does this through the link in its Instagram bio. When you click, you’re presented with a bunch of menu options, including a CTA button prompting you to join their newsletter list in return for a 10% discount:

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Even better, their link-in-bio tool allows you to hand over your email address without having to click through to the Recess website, making for a more streamlined user journey.

13. Improve Your Content Quality

Last but not least, fine-tune your content creation. After all, content is the backbone of all forms of digital marketing.

Do a content audit to find out where you stand currently. Then, use social media listening tools like Mention to hone in on the best-performing content on your target platforms. Try to replicate the same content quality, keeping your unique style intact.

You can use professional content writing and photo editing tools to create error-free, eye-catching content. If you have the resources, hire professional content creators who are experts at social media writing.

To put your best foot forward, stay abreast of all the latest trends in social media.

Ready to Skyrocket Your Social Media ROI?

I know that’s a lot of information to digest in one go. But these are the insights I’ve gathered after analyzing the best social media marketing campaigns around. These strategies will help you drive organic traffic, engage followers, improve authority, and sell more efficiently. All of these will have a cumulative positive effect on your social media ROI.

Do you have questions about any of these hacks? Feel free to voice them in the comments below. I’ll be happy to answer them.

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