All kinds of clever algorithms attempt to calculate social media ROI: Twitter Analytics, Google AdSense, and countless Instagram analytics tools. Complicated calculations claim to measure social marketing. (Profit / total investment X 100 = social media ROI is just one of them.) 

All that math is enough to melt your brain. And those so-called “analytics?” Most are just pretty pie charts on a computer screen.

Tamara McCleary says social media ROI is so much more than numbers on a spreadsheet and bar graphs on a dashboard: “It’s about engagement, growing your business through brand awareness, and telling your story.” 

But the secret sauce?


“We track revenue driven through social media,” she says. “One of our clients tracked almost $40 million just from social media.”

That’s forty-million dollars

Facebook Insights can’t do that. 

Tamara is the CEO of the social media marketing agency Thulium, a best-selling author and marketing ROI thought leader. She talked to Bryan Kramer about how to measure the return on social media, and the conversation was fascinating. 

How Not to Measure Social Media ROI

There’s a misconception that popularity equals social media success, so marketers track followers, shares, and other meaningless ego metrics. Tamara says this is “all wrong.” Popularity doesn’t drive conversions, growth, or, ultimately, revenue.

“You can be really popular on social media and have absolutely no one buying. Social media success is delivering value. It’s engagement. It’s solving problems for people in a way so that brand becomes the go-to thought leader in its space.”

The one thing that drives Tamara “bananas?” Executives who still don’t understand social media and think it’s all about the number of followers:

“They’re like ‘We need more followers,’ and I’m like ‘No, you need more buyers.’ I wish we could get rid of all these vanity metrics. How many followers an organization has. How many followers that influencer has. All of that means nothing.”

How to Measure Social Media ROI

Focus on revenue.

Tamara says it all starts with your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Maybe Salesforce. Maybe Marketo. Set it up properly, and you can track revenue from social platforms in one place. 

“Say a CMO has to justify her marketing spend to the executive team. They need to prove business growth or have that budget taken away. We help marketers document, record, and achieve success from revenue driven through social media.”

It certainly sounds like a much better way to track social media ROI. 

“There is no qualitative analysis that proves popularity translates to money. Some of the most influential people in the world hardly have any followers.”

Watch Bryan’s entire conversation with Tamara McCleary here, or get it as a podcast here

Want to have a conversation about social media? Let’s talk.