For our sixth installment of the “Sink or Swim” series, we will discuss the importance of measurement. It is often thought (and spoken aloud) that social media marketers can’t always assign ROI or a dollar amount to social media efforts. It is likened to billboards or TV advertisements, wherein the value is implicit.

That is simply not the case.

There are many ways in which your social media efforts can be measured. To begin, let’s start with the goals associated with your social strategy. These will help you measure what is important. If your goal is “brand awareness,” for instance, it is wise to look at metrics like “People Talking About This,” or the number of people generating stories about your brand (likes, follows, comments, shares, etc.). If your goal is sales-driven, it is wise to look at metrics on your website and referring traffic from social platforms.

Most brands obviously monitor their increase in likes on Facebook, follows on Twitter and all the other minutia that these platforms throw at you to make you feel good. In Hootsuite, you can check your clicks in their “Quick Analytics” tab using your ow.ly links. But have you thought about appending code to each individual tweet and tracking with Google Analytics or a paid platform like Marin or Omniture? The options for tracking are nearly endless and can go as granular as you like. In fact, there are ways to follow someone around on your site to see their paths. What pages did the user scope out? How long were they there? Think about how valuable this information can be to your social strategy and your new business team.

Here are some examples of conclusions you can draw from taking the time (& money) to measure your social media efforts:

1. How do people engage with your brand on different platforms? Perhaps people are more likely to click on a philanthropic message on Facebook, whereas they’re looking for deals on Twitter.

2. What is user behavior like once they reach the brand website? How are your call-to-actions in social messaging affecting (or not affecting) this?

3. How much money is it making your business to be social? And yes, this can be an estimate or concrete dollar amount, depending on the amount of technology you want.

Too many agencies send brands in the direction of social media because it is fun and easy; perhaps even because they think they will be held less accountable for hard ROI numbers. But if you’re not measuring your social efforts, why do them at all?