A DMO’s Guide to Measuring the ROI of Social Media

It’s one thing to know that social media is important to your organization, but it’s another to be able to explain why.

Good social media marketing means getting up close and personal not just with your audience, but also with the metrics that matter to your organization.

Why it’s important to measure social media ROI

You can more accurately: 

  • Demonstrate the value of social media to your organization’s goals and business objectives
  • Determine what’s working and what’s not (in other words, what to continue doing and what to change)
  • Recognize any gaps in your strategy, key messages, and content
  • Pinpoint where your social media budget is being used effectively and where spending can be pulled back

Plus, everyone likes to know their hard work is paying off!

Start by taking a baseline measurement of where you are today

Before you can begin to track and improve your social media ROI, it’s important to look at where your numbers are today.

Assess your social channels and record a baseline measurement for metrics like follower count, post reach, and how much engagement a typical post receives.

Next, develop a measurement framework that aligns with your key objectives

When you’re ready to take it a step further, define specific metrics based on the following objectives. (We also made a tracking worksheet you can follow along with here!)

1 | If your objective is to boost audience engagement

You may be tweeting a storm out there — but are people paying attention?

Track these metrics monthly:

  • Click-through rates
  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Retweets
  • Favorites
  • Hashtag uses

And remember: while certain metrics matter more to different organizations, it’s crucial to set specific goals and a timeframe for achieving them.

For instance, you might set a goal to increase the number of comments you get on Instagram by 20% each month. So if you received 30 comments last month, that means you need 36 comments to hit your target for this month.

Spotlight: The Colorado Tourism Office is a DMO that has achieved this objective and uses it to bolster their marketing. Dave Fluegge helped launched the #ColoradoLive campaign with high hopes and it certainly paid off – they often receive over 12,000 pieces of user-generated content per month!

2 | If you’re using social media to increase brand awareness

Do people know about your brand? Is your social audience growing?

Track these metrics monthly:

  • Followers (audience growth rate)
  • Clicks by region (via Google Analytics)
  • Mentions
  • *Qualitative metric: brand sentiment

These numbers plenty about your brand awareness on social media. They can also provide insights that tell you about how and why your social presence is growing as well as where your biggest fans are located.

Another good way to track brand awareness is through engagement sentiment – that is, using social media to determine how your audience feels about your brand. Besides how they interact with your accounts, what are they actually saying about you?

Are they giving your brand some love? Are they lamenting some mistake you missed? 

Bonus tip: Social media takeovers are a fun way to reach a wider audience and strengthen brand awareness. Check out our guide on how to do it!

3 | If your objective is to generate sales from social media

Of your 40 visitor guide requests this month, how many came as a result of social media?

You’re not in the business of merely making connections – an organization can’t thrive on ‘likes’ alone. That’s why your online activity must be linked to tangible, measurable goals, including generating sales through your social media pages.

A lot of organizations measure how many URL clicks their posts receive and how much web traffic comes in from social media. Depending on your specific business goals, here are some metrics to consider.

Examples of metrics to track:

  • Click-through rates
  • Ticket sales
  • Hotel bookings
  • Requests for visitor’s guides
  • Newsletter sign-ups

Did you know? The ROM generated 60,000 visitors to Friday Night Live at the ROM through social alone!

4 | If social media is a key channel for providing better customer service

Are your customers getting the help they need from your social channels?

Track these metrics monthly:

  • Average response time on social
  • No. of email inquiries
  • No. of phone inquiries

Look at whether a reduction in email and phone inquiries corresponds to this improved social customer support. By tracking these metrics monthly you can more tangibly see improvements. 

What’s more, this is another place you can look for indicators of brand sentiment.

Reaching out to tourists, addressing concerns, and encouraging questions is such a simple, effective way to improve your customer experience. For example, take a look at Ottawa Tourism:

Tips for organizations starting to track social media ROI

Add goals to Google Analytics to automatically measure conversions coming in from social. For instance, a DMO might track visitor guide downloads or newsletter sign-ups. You can then show how many people came from social and completed those goals. 

Put UTM parameters on your links to see exactly where your traffic is coming from. If you’re posting a blog to Twitter and want to know how many people are click that exact link to your blog, UTMs can show you.

Prepare a monthly report for key stakeholders that shows the hard numbers (metrics), and also highlights examples of user tweets or Instagram photos.

This allows you to demonstrate the measured success of your campaign as well as the overall sentiment of your followers. This is especially important for smaller organizations and attractions that need to justify spending time and resources managing multiple social channels.

Monetizing social engagement (for more advanced organizations)

If you’re looking for a more advanced system to gage ROI, here are some options: For instance, the agency

  • Destination Think brought together six destinations to develop a framework for measuring how much financial value results from social media. Find it here.
  • Tourism Ireland has monetized the value of its social engagement using a metric called Social Equivalent Advertising Value (SEAV), found here. By classifying types of social activity and comparing them to non-social advertising equivalents, Tourism Ireland uses SEAV to calculate the financial cost and value of social engagement – so they can easily visualize their social media cash flow and ROI. 

Get tracking! Here’s a ready-made worksheet

We’ve covered a lot in this blog post, about different metrics for different objectives.

It can totally feel overwhelming if you’re just starting out, so we made a worksheet here (completely free!).

Just plug in your numbers each month, and you’ll be on your way.



Free social media worksheet