“Social Media ROI” is the phrase on every marketer’s lips these days. It’s understandable; as more companies devote more of their budgets to social media, the question of what it means for your company’s bottom line becomes more of a priority.

There’s a ton of tools and apps (Klout, Clicky, Twitalyzer, Facebook Page Insights) out there designed to measure social media traffic and engagement, but even so a baseline method of measurement hasn’t yet been established, which can be frustrating for marketers. It’s really easy to get bogged down in numbers and data that are interesting, but ultimately, meaningless when it comes to figuring out your bottom line. So where do you start?

First things first, you don’t have to measure everything.

The best way to attack social media measurement is to establish what your social media objectives are before you start: Are you using social to drive traffic to your company website? Do you want to expand your brand recognition in a new market? Are you using social media for lead generation? Identify the metrics that will give you the insights to answer those questions.

So for example, if your company is using Twitter to drive daily traffic to your website, looking at the number of daily @ mentions won’t help you much, you’ll have to start looking at your visitor numbers from Twitter to your website. If you are looking to expand your market in a new area using Facebook, tracking your new fan count in that particular location will be useful for you, however.

The key is identifying the metrics that measure your company’s objective. There’s no one size fits all with this. The more specific your company’s social media objectives are, the more refined your measurement can be. This could mean as little as 5 – 6 metrics that work for you. Imagine that! No more being bogged down with tons of stats and pages of spreadsheets. You can be lean and mean, and only track the numbers that directly affect your bottom line. Good luck!—KEIDRA D. CHANEY