Social media marketers: we have a problem.
Business owners don’t know what to believe about social media marketing. And, as the saying goes, a confused mind always says no.
Some of the data points from IBM’s Black Friday report are stunning.
Shoppers referred from social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounting for .34% of sales on Black Friday and .41% of sales on Cyber Monday.
And Twitter laying a goose egg.
In sharp contrast, we have data like this from Compete showing that Twitter is an outstanding channel for driving traffic to retail websites.
These findings paint two polar-opposite pictures.
The findings from IBM have been widely criticized along with the statistics from Compete, most notably by Tom Webster here. The accuracy of these data are important conversations to have, but only prove the point – there is a metric ton of BS proof out there about the effects of social media on sales.
Stop treating social media as direct response
Most business owners want social media marketing to be direct response. They want to put X dollars in the top of the funnel and produce X + Y% out of the bottom of the funnel. In fact, they would love it if everything they did could be measured in this way.
I get that. But it’s not possible.
The fact is that we can’t accurately measure the ROI of social media.
Sure, if you have money to shell out for world-class software and the manpower you will need to use it, you will start getting some answers. But most of us can’t come any closer to measuring the ROI of social media than we can the ROI of a television jingle.
And that’s ok.
Social media marketing isn’t a direct response marketing tactic. You will never be able to accurately calculate the ROI of using Facebook to create deeper relationships with your existing customers. You can’t accurately calculate the ROI of answering questions that relate to your industry on Twitter.
The progress you make toward meeting your sales goals in social media are, in many cases, too far removed from the actual sale.
It’s time to change the discussion
Infomercials are incredible.
A good infomercial is designed to take a prospect from awareness to sale in one sitting. And can (fairly accurately) measure the results through dedicated phone numbers, website URL’s or promo codes.
Social media is not an infomercial.
If we had to compare, social media is more like a traditional television commercial. Think the Coke polar bear commercials. Working its magic over a long period of time, the effects hardly detectable by customers and prospects.
Sure, we have link shortener statistics and referral traffic reports we can look at. All of these things serve to illuminate the black box of social media’s effect on sales.
But we’re headed in the wrong direction and I don’t see how we can stop. We want that ROI number. We want to know the exact amount of profit generated by each tweet.
But calculating the exact direct response profit per tweet, while possible, doesn’t tell the whole story.
I’m afraid that when we measure the direct response sales from social media, we won’t like what we see.
Please, let me know your thoughts. I’m just one voice and would love to hear your expert opinion on this in the comments!