The right tools can make your social media marketing more effective.

The right tools can make your social media marketing more effective.

The value of social media for businesses has been debated for almost as long as there has been social media channels for businesses to use.

Even if you don’t spend any money on social media advertising, you still want to know how effective your efforts are—what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong and where your customers are coming from. You need to know what your Return on Investment (ROI) is, even if your investment is only your time and creativity.

It’s difficult to measure, but fortunately there are tools out there that will help. Here are some of the best:

Google Analytics is one of the originals and it is still among the best. It’s hooked directly to Google, the most powerful search engine on the internet, and it allows you to see where your traffic is coming from as well as how visitors interact with your site—including whether visitors come from your social media channels.

You’ll need to sign up for an account, but once you do it is self explanatory and, best of all, free. Make sure you check out the Social section, which tells you how much of your traffic is coming from social media sites and which ones they’re coming from.

RJ Metrics’ CloudBI is another, and it automatically calculates Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), a current industry buzz phrase that is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. It will even break the CLV down to show the social media channels that your customers visit you from.

The program also gives you insight into customer behaviors, which will help you decide which social ad platforms are working for you and which to invest in. You can even have reports sent to you on a regular basis.

Cyfe is an all-in-one reporting tool that reports how your content is shared across social media and the impact it has on your overall ROI. Cyfe is free to start with and upgrades are moderately cheap—they range from $14-$19 monthly, depending on whether you pay by the month or year.

Cyfe features a number of widgets that allow you to create customized dashboards where you can see the reporting on Facebook ads, Twitter engagement and more. With it, you can track sales, invoices, social media mentions and site visits.

Kissmetrics is an analytics platform that lets you track individuals, groups of similar individuals, and your users as a whole throughout their visit to your site. The best thing about Kissmetrics is its ability to track when users leave and come back, and what they do when they return.

The worst thing: the price. It’s free at first, but once your trial is over, the price escalates in a hurry.

Of course, many social media sites have their own analytics available, such as Facebook Insights, Pinterest Analytics, Twitter Analytics, andYouTube Analytics.

Whether you use these or other tools, you’ll need to keep track of your social ROI. It’s the only way you’ll know if your social marketing is working, or if you need to change it up.

How do you measure your efforts? Let us know in the comments.