by Caitlin DeWilde, DVM | Trends® Magazine
One of the most common questions regarding social media for veterinary practices is “What’s the return on investment (ROI)`?” It’s a great question that deserves to be answered, even though it may take a little more work than a standard inventory ROI calculation.
The data points are there—if you’re looking in the right place. Too often, veterinary teams are quick to throw in the towel or write off social media as an untrackable expense without implementing the necessary measures to track success.
To properly quantify social media ROI, here are five variables your practice should quantify:
1. Dollars Spent
Let’s start off with an easy one. The obvious numbers to record are the amount of money that a practice is putting behind ads and boosted posts, as well as any software tools or graphic assets (e.g., Buffer or Canva) that the practice is using to create and post content.
2. Time: Labor Cost
What is the cost of your social media employee’s labor per hour? There is no right or wrong answer on who should be doing the practice’s social media, but we must account for the cost of that employee’s time. Most importantly, the person doing the practice’s social media should be the one who is (1) passionate about the task and doing it well and (2) qualified and efficient at getting the job done.
3. Time: Hours Spent
How much time are you allowing your employee to spend? Is she tracking the time it takes to craft, publish, and monitor posts, ads, etc.? It’s easy to get carried away with graphic design or monitoring analytic data, but it’s important that you have an understanding of the time your employee is spending on these tasks. Try a free browser extension like Clockify or a cell phone stopwatch to track how much time she’s spending each month—you may be surprised!
4. Objective Value
You should know why you are using social media in the first place. If you’re boosting posts or running ads because you’re “supposed to,” you’re throwing money down the drain. Define clear objectives, tailor and target the majority of your content with those objectives in mind, and place a monetary value on them.
Example: Objectives are unique to each practice and can include more phone calls to your practice, increased brand loyalty, or more booked appointments. Each of these examples is likely worth something different to you. Perhaps you’re willing to budget $50 a month in ad spend to increase your page’s engagement but have a budget of $500 for generating new client appointments. Regardless of what objectives your practice holds and what value you assign, knowing this value will help you balance the equation.
5. Tracking and Analysis
Tracking your success requires some tools and time to examine the data. Defining the aforementioned variables—ad spending, labor cost, hours spent, and objective value—will be monumental in helping you determine your ROI, but only if you can easily consolidate and interpret that data. While you can use simple pen and paper or a spreadsheet, you may find it worthwhile to invest in monitoring tools like Cyfe or Octoboard to consolidate and track your data.
Additionally, you may need time to implement tracking measures in your practice, such as a specific practice management software code or report, or a new client registration form that better tracks referral sources. Don’t forget to consider the cost of your time to create and monitor these tools.
Accurately calculating social media ROI is admittedly more difficult than many of the financial assessments a veterinary practice has to make. However, quantifying and monitoring these five variables will help you improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your practice’s social media strategy.