Kristina Allen is the online marketing manager for @ioninteractive where she handles social media and PR initiatives. Kristina is also a graduate student currently working towards a master’s in communication with an emphasis on classical rhetoric. You can read her daily blog posts at The Post-Click Marketing blog, or connect with her @allenkristina on Twitter.


Setting up a social media presence is easy. Engaging with targeted followers and fans is pretty easy too. Tying social media back to business objectives shouldn’t be hard. Connecting social media to ROI via social conversions…yikes!

A few weeks ago Jay Baer participated in a podcast with the Executive VP of ion interactive (my employer) on why a social conversion funnel is so important to a mature social media strategy.

Jay says we have to move past using the number of fans, followers, and subscribers as key metrics, and start deciding which user actions or set of actions leads to an actual conversion. Once these actions are defined, we can then use them as key metrics that are easily tied back to ROI.

For instance, if you’re an online marketer looking to generate leads by having a visitor fill out a form on your website, the hard conversion will still be having the form filled out. However, the social media conversion would be tracking how many of the people who fill out the form came in from one of your social channels.

An example might be:

It should be easy to see how tying these actions back to social media ROI is clearer than going the murky route of trying to tie the number of followers you have to ROI.

Jay says, “What I think a lot of people are referring to when they say ‘social conversion’ is converting people to fans or followers,” but “what’s the point in having a Facebook fan page if you don’t really have a plan for what to do with those people once they get there. So I would certainly hope that we can get to the point where social conversion is really a funnel, and not just a single action.”

Of course a sale isn’t the only type of conversion that matters, and in fact if the main objective for your social strategy is driving awareness or loyalty, tracking a hard conversion like a sale wouldn’t be of complete interest to you. In that case it would be good to look at the number of social engagements taking place in your universe (RTs, comments, social bookmarking), bounce rates and time on site.

It would also be a good idea to track which pages your visitors from social sites click through beyond the entry page. Do they look at your About page (probably), do they look at your services page?

Which pages are they looking at, and how can you optimize those pages for your social traffic to benefit your ultimate objective?

If awareness is your goal, what can you do to get RSS subscribers to “like” you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter and then share your content?

If loyalty is your goal, what can you do to get visitors that enter via a blog post to stay on your site? How can you get them to read multiple blog posts or subscribe to your RSS feed or newsletter?

Figure our which user action or set of actions determines your social media ROI, and then track those metrics. Having a social conversion funnel will help you watch your program grow and succeed, and will also show you which initiatives are failing, so you can move on to something else.

If you’re interested in learning more about social conversions, you can read the Jay Baer podcast episode transcript here, or download the episode from iTunes (search: ion interactive or “conversations on conversion”)

Which social conversion metrics are you currently tracking, or which ones do you plan to start measuring to improve your strategy?