I was recently asked how I measure ROI for social media, and the answer isn’t a simple one. It depends on the client, their specific goals, objectives and budget.

Some clients use social media for brand awareness, reputation management, customer service and/or engagement.

Others use it for customer acquisition and lead generation.

Hootsuite¬†provides a good guide on how to measure ROI. I particularly like the monthly report, which is something I provide to my clients, so they can see how their social media accounts are performing: here’s how we did last month, here’s what worked well, here’s what didn’t, and here are suggestions for improvement next month.

Here are a few key takeaways:

– Set SMART goals.

– Track the right metrics. Likes and follows are nice, but they are vanity metrics and not true indicators of success.

– Calculate your costs including time spend creating social media, measuring it and monitoring it.

– Define a strategy, implement it and then measure it. Rinse and repeat.

The most important thing to remember is that a successful social media strategy takes time. Success will not happen overnight. Social media’s very foundation is based on relationships and, unless you are paying influencers with built-in audiences, it will take you time to develop and nurture those relationships. Be patient, and be authentic and your social media relationships will pay off.