You’ve heard it asked over and over again from marketers tenfold: how do you measure ROI from social media? The answer lies in the social media goals of your business and how those translate into social conversions — and consumers in the future.

Firebrand Group asked marketers to define their social media goals in our Future of Social report. 47 percent of respondents listed lead generation as a top social media goal while only 28 percent listed sales. If lead generation and sales offer the most clarity to how social media helps grow a business, why is that not the focus of more marketer’s top goals?

social media awareness goals conversions

For some businesses, there is less opportunity to measure lead generation and social conversions based on their operations. In the case of many B2C companies, marketers are not able to track sales and use lead generation as a core element of their marketing.

Still, the clearest metrics we can garner from social media efforts are lead generation and sales. Sameer Kazi, CEO of Simply Measured, argues “For social to become a true signal, a true tactic, it cannot merely reside at the top of the funnel. All companies should demand more clarity about the role that social plays in driving those conversion metrics that matter most.”

“Instead of looking at social as a tactic for one part of the funnel, marketers should measure how social impacts each step of the buyer’s journey, and use that insight as a map to inform tactics and improve results,” adds Adam Schoenfeld of Simply Measured.

social media conversions“Every business should measure the conversion of their social media marketing,” says Jason Keath, Founder and CEO of the Social Fresh Conference. “Some businesses have a barrier to measuring conversion because they are not an ecommerce business or they do not own the stores where their products are sold, but there is always a way.”

The bottom line from the data is as simple as this: if you’re not measuring lead generation and sales, figure out a way to make this a priority in your social strategy for 2016 and beyond. It could be the difference between no ROI and a substantial spike in ROI based on repositioning your goals towards caring about conversions.

To read the entire Future of Social report in partnership with Social Fresh and Simply Measured, click here.