I just read an intriguing article by MDG Advertising that breaks down a new report showing that approximately half of the marketing professionals studied have no idea how to actually quantify the business value of social media.
The question then becomes: if marketing professionals cannot calculate a return on investment for social media, why is everyone still investing in likes and followers?
The uncertainty regarding the actual business value of investing in social media certainly reflects my own experience – here are two previous articles on the subject:
- The Value of Social Media Followers: Does It Matter If They Are Real or Fake?
- The Social Media Fallacy – Does Social Media Generate Business Income?
In my experience, the actual return on investment for the big social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is next to nothing. In other words, most businesses will spend an exorbitant amount of time and effort (and if you’re a business with a social media manager – money) posting and interacting on social media, with very little (if any) actual monetary return (sales, clients, leads etc.).
Having said that, creative professionals are probably one of the business categories most able to actually monetize social media likes and followers. If you think about it, we have an inherent advantage when it comes to creating social media content – especially on visual platforms like Instagram. In fact, creating compelling social media content is reported by marketers as their second biggest challenge when it comes to social media – something that creative professionals do in our sleep.
I think that businesses marketing a service on social media (such as photographers, film makers, designers etc.) also have an advantage versus businesses that are trying to hawk a physical product. Social just seems much more suited to, and tolerant of, businesses trying to get their work noticed by potential clients rather than pushing a sales funnel.
According to MDG Advertising:
Forty-four percent of CMOs say that they haven’t been able to measure the impact of social media on their business, while only 20 percent say that they’ve been able to quantify social media’s success. Plus, 36 percent of CMOs say they have a qualitative sense of its impact, but they haven’t been able to translate that into solid figures.
When businesses do try to analyze the success of their social media campaigns, they almost always focus on traditional social media metrics: reach and engagement (followers, likes, interactions etc.) and not actual monetary values like sales made or clients signed.
If you’re interested in a much more in-depth look at the challenges of measuring and tracking the business value of social media, MDG has posted a great infographic – click here.
Interestingly, the top reason cited for marketer’s inability to measure an actual return on investment for social media is an “inability to tie social to business outcomes.”
Call me cynical, but this is clearly by design – there is no way that any social media network wants their users to be able to tie a real-world monetary value to likes and follows – because if we could, I suspect that very few businesses would be able to justify the time, effort and expense of social media marketing.
Why Are We Still Investing In Likes?
If you agree that it is very difficult to actually assess the business value of investing in social media, why do we do it?
Do you think that social media likes and followers have monetary value? Why or why not?
Do you think that the social media networks deliberately make it difficult to assess the effectiveness of social marketing?
Why do you think businesses are investing so heavily in social media marketing?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts!