Insanity in the World of Social Marketing Measurement

on under Social Media Marketing.

According to a collaborative study between the CMO Council and Vizu, 70 percent of marketers plan to spend more on social media this year. This is interesting, considering that a study by Duke University reveals that only 14 percent of CMOs are seeing a quantitative impact from their social media campaigns.

But insanity is not limited to social media marketing advocates. For example, one piece of Forrester research is often quoted as the dagger in social marketing's back:

forrester email social

*Gasp* Social media is responsible for less than less than 1 percent of repeat sales!

Never mind that this tells us nothing about the effectiveness of social media for creating repeat sales. A simple description of the way things are doesn't tell us anything about how effective social media is. It tells us nothing about what would happen if these businesses invested more in social media, or used a different social media strategy. It doesn't even hint at ROI.

A far better, but still lacking, form of measurement comes from a Custora study I referenced recently, which reveals that:

  • The customer lifetime value (CLV) of those referred from organic search is 54% above average
  • The CLV of referrals from Facebook is a measly 1.31% above average
  • Twitter CLV is 23 percent below average

Another somewhat sane form of measurement comes from Monetate, in a study that I also recently referenced, which discusses conversion rates:

  • Email: 3.19%
  • Search: 1.95%
  • Social: 0.71%

So, from these statistics, as I often stress, social media performance can be a bit underwhelming. But let's also keep this balanced (sane), by pointing out that:

  • According to the Custora study, Facebook CLV is on par with banner ads, and it beats CPM. Also, it's "free."
  • This Hubspot survey indicates that (at least among those who responded to the survey) social conversion rates are 13 percent above average, while PPC is only 9 percent above average. Needless to say, these results are probably skewed, but it draws attention to how industry wide conversion rates don't necessarily say anything about what you can accomplish.

So, where am I going with this?

As a numbers-driven person, the sheer lack of informed numbers surrounding social media marketing is driving me utterly insane. Nobody seems to be reporting on the impact of social, or offering any quantitative data on which social strategies actually work.

Let's address one common assumption as an example:

  • Myth: Using social media to empower consumers will increase your influence over them.
  • Reality: According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, we can expect just the opposite. By involving consumers in important processes like product development, companies are actually creating consumers who are more likely to ignore or outright rebel against any perceived attempt to influence them.

I am 100 percent certain that social media deserves a place in marketing, but most discussions surrounding the topic are severely lacking in evidence. To be fair, this is truer than it should be in most fields of marketing, but social media marketers seem to be worse with this. They often gloss over our outright rebel against the need for data to support their opinions.

It's a sorry state of affairs, but if you're one of the people who actually knows how to leverage big data for real results, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you're way ahead of the curve.

Image credit: Biking Nikon SFO

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  • Excellent entry! I'm been looking for topics as interesting as this.
    It's always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!
    I'm sure you had fun writing this article. Looking forward to your next post.

    Hussvamp