How to Calculate ROI When People Share Your Content

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There are several key benefits associated with having profiles other than your own branded social media accounts share your company’s content. It increases brand recognition, helps improve brand loyalty, provides more opportunities to convert, and often results in higher conversion rates.

According to Ambassador, 71% of customers who have a good experience interacting with a brand on social media are likely to recommend it to others. And research from UMass Dartmouth shows that 77% of millennials make purchases both online and in-store after viewing posts on Facebook.

But it takes a lot of effort to make that happen. Marketers go through a great deal to get people to share their content online, including running contests and promotions, employee advocacy initiatives, paid advertising campaigns and more.

So how do you know whether or not your efforts to get people sharing your content are paying off? How do you know which tactics and sharers are the most profitable? Here are some things to think about that can help maximize your social media ROI.

1. Use UTM Parameters on URLs You Give Influencers

An underutilized attribution solution, UTM parameters are nothing more than tags you add to the end of a URL. When the link is clicked, the tags are sent back to your Google Analytics and tracked. This way you can see how much traffic is coming from each of the influencers you’re working with, so you can tell which ones are providing the best value.

This is helpful when deciding who to work with on future campaigns, and it can also give you the information you need to ensure you’re seeing proportionate value from the influencers you’re currently paying.

You’ll have to create separate URLs for each influencer, and make sure they are different enough so you can see which traffic is coming from influencer A, B, and C, but similar enough that you can tell it’s all part of the same overall campaign. You may even want to get really specific and give each influencer separate UTM URLs for each of their social media platforms, so you can see which of their platforms provide the highest ROI.

The more unique URLs you have, the better a system you’ll have to use to manage which URLs belong to whom. It’s a good idea to build them all and list them in a spreadsheet until Analytics data starts coming in.

2. Compare Data With What You Would Have Spent on Promotion

Compare your share volume, sharer audience size, and engagement data with what you would have spent to achieve the same impact with promoted social posts. A good way to do this is with a simple “earned media value,” or EMV, formula.

Just take the number of sharers in your brand advocacy team and multiply it by the number of shares per influencer/employee. Then, multiply that by the number of clicks generated per share, and multiply that by the cost per click.

So as an example, let’s say you have 10 influencers who are sharing your content with five tweets each, and each of those posts gets 10 clicks, at an estimated $3 value per click. In this case, your EMV comes to $1,500. You’d have to spend that much on advertising to get the same impact. This method allows you to see what you’re getting for free, and allows you to use your advertising budget to amplify the results even more.

The problem with this method is that you’re often paying influencers to share the content, so the promotion isn’t always free. On the other hand, if your company has a vibrant employee advocacy initiative underway, then you’re paying them regardless of whether they share your content or not, so in this sense, it’s free.

3. Merge Channel Referrer and Sales Data

When you merge your channel referrer with your sales data, you can see how many customers and how much revenue is coming to your business as a result of clickthroughs from social media.

This method specifically attaches traffic referrers to your sales data so you can see how many customers and how much money come from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and whatever other social networks you’re on, allowing you to see which networks are the most popular with your customers, so you can adjust future campaigns accordingly.

Many CRMs make it easy for you to run reports like these once your data sources are synced up properly, but the setup work can be complex if you’re not a data professional, so you may need some help to get started.

ROI Goes Beyond the Content Itself

Content distribution can be both costly and time-consuming. That’s why it’s critical to go beyond the ROI of the content itself and see how much money each piece makes you from the shares it gets on social media.

Of course, the content share will likely most often originate with your company page, but the more people you get sharing it – either through employee advocacy, a brand ambassador program, or as a result of organic fan engagement – the better the ROI of your content marketing efforts will be.

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Itai Elizur is the COO at Inbound Junction, a content marketing agency specializing in helping startups and business increase their online visibility. Prior to joining the Inbound Junction team, Itai worked as a Creative Manager at, and as the Director of Marketing at Infolinks, the 3rd largest website network in the world.