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Shauna Robertson - 01.04.2018

3 Steps to Monetizing Social Channels - Step 3

In Steps One and Two of Monetizing Your Social Media Channel, we reviewed how to gather the appropriate data to calculate ROI metrics within the context of Social channels. Next, we need to think through how to visualize these numbers in a way that management teams can understand. In Step Three, we focus on organizing and reporting the data via our favorite tool: Google Data Studio.

Why Google Data Studio?

It's free and easy.

There are plenty of reasons why we recommend Google Data Studio, perhaps first and foremost because it’s free, and it seamlessly integrates with Google Analytics, AdWords, Sheets, YouTube Analytics, BigQuery, Google Cloud Storage, and more through the Google Analytics 360 Suite. We prefer the free version of Google Analytics 360, but there is an option to upgrade a select few of the media tools to take your data to the next level. Or access the full Google Analytics 360 Suite by paying a monthly fee of $150k. We would recommend taking advantage of the free version, and later assessing if you could benefit from an upgrade. For more information on Google Analytics 360 Suite, please check here.

It Offers a High Degree of Customization

We prefer Data Studio because it is 100% customizable. Instead of being limited by predefined dashboards and metrics, Data Studio allows users to create unique filters, metrics, dimensions, time ranges, segments, campaigns, and even style the dashboard per your branding guidelines. See our example of a dashboard we created for Sagepath Campaign management below. To make the dashboard more precise, we can filter to an email campaign such as ‘Black Friday’ and observe the revenue trends from 2016 to 2017.

Example of Google Analytics  dashboard.

Centralized Data

And finally, this tool rocks because it allows us to use disparate data sources other than Google Analytics. There are two separate ways to accomplish this:


  1. Extract and upload an excel sheet to the Google Sheets from an external data source
  2. Setup an API or FTP server to send data from your external source to BigQuery

We recommend BigQuery as an inexpensive (~.05 cents per 1 GB) streaming/storage solution which can be read by multiple visualization programs, such as Tableau. With this tool, we can read data from an external data source and report on it in the same dashboard as website performance. This deepens our understanding of paid media, social, email, and campaigns to encourage decision makers to take informed actions.

Successful Visualization Steps

Step One: Identify Measurable Goals

When meeting with stakeholders to align on objectives, we ask ‘What do you want to achieve? And how can we measure it?’. By applying quantitative values to our goals, we move from engagement-centric data to powerful measurable data. Most often measurable goals include an increase in sales, rise in goal-oriented behavior, reduced cart abandonment rate, and optimized user experience. In the context of Social Media, individual channel’s achievements and benchmarks should be set. For example, “Instagram channel to achieve 150k followers by 2019 with an online sales conversion of 16% and campaign awareness to reach an average of 40k non-followers.”

Step Two: Data Gathering and ROI Calculation

As we learned in Step One and Step Two of this Three-Part Series, we need to schedule how often to retrieve this data and run the calculation engine. We prefer to perform calculations manually in Excel, then create a custom metric in Data Studios to ensure calculations are perfectly accurate between manual and automated. A guide to creating custom Data Studio metrics can be found here. If using Data Studios, there is an option to perform an auto data refresh (every two minutes), or set a custom time interval. If calculation is purely manual, consider setting a reminder to calculate data monthly.

Step Three: Organize the Data in Google Data Studio

Determine where the data will live, and how it will be sourced. Google Data Studio can have multiple pages, so select a few categories to report on such as Demographics, Customer Behavior, Sales, etc. Begin by covering the basics first (sessions, pageviews, bounce rate, etc.) then get into the granular detailed level (acquisition channel for female returning customers on mobile). When it comes to the dashboard design, if you’re feeling uninspired, the internet has plenty of analysts sharing pre-built templates, and many good examples can be found using a simple search.

In the context of Social ROI, these metrics might be custom calculations, created separately from Google Analytics. Add the data to a Google Sheet, ensuring that the data follows formatting rules for Data Studio (i.e. date and time). Sync the sheet to the dashboard, and filter by the proper dimension and date range. For further information on Data Studio, Google has created plenty of easy-to-understand tutorials, which can be explored here.

Disclaimer: Social Media Intangible Benefits

Don’t feel disappointed if this assessment did not return favorable measurements There are plenty of reasons why we finance Social strategy without expecting direct sales ROI. While we should not blindly invest in Social, a sound strategy without direct return can be made. Listed below are just a few of the intangible benefits that are excellent indicators of Social success:

  • Brand awareness and definition
  • Buying behavior influence in store
  • Responsive rate to manage complaints and questions
  • Attendee % for social channel events calendar
  • Organic follow and reach rate
  • Content experimentation
  • Brand character development
  • And many more!

Bottom line: DO connect your Social strategy to a business objective and DON’T assume that Social will speak for itself.