Measure Social Media Success in Terms of Potential, Not Dollar Amount

Social media gives you access to aspirational customers and their networks, a benefit that can’t be quantified in dollars.

One of the trickiest things about implementing a social media strategy is that success can be difficult to measure. While most professionals acknowledge that a social media marketing presence is important, it’s hard to make a case for resources when you can’t precisely quantify the value in terms of dollar amount.

This, however, shouldn’t stop your business from recognizing the importance of social media as part of a robust marketing strategy. You need to start thinking about value in terms of potential, rather than the immediate sale.

“It’s important that we continue to shift our focus from the short-term sale to the long-term value of social media,” says Emily Teele, loyalty and retention marketing manager at West Elm. “Part of our willingness to make this shift comes from trust that our efforts will pay off, even if not immediately, and part comes from finding new ways to measure results over time.”

Tomorrow’s customers

One of the most valuable and exciting aspects of social media is that it allows business to discover and engage with a new segment of the B2B community: aspirational customers. In the past, businesses haven’t had access to these customers. Now that we can find out who they are, their long-term value cannot be overstated — both as buyers, and in building brand loyalty and an engaged customer base.

According to a recent study published in MIT Sloan Management Review, aspirational customers are likely to follow multiple brands on social media sites. Over half follow at least one brand that they haven’t made a purchase from. But, “our data suggests that they do plan to purchase in the future,” say the study’s authors. “Today’s followers are very likely to be tomorrow’s customers.”

The social network = social media success

There’s another factor to consider regarding the value of social media marketing. At its core, these are networking platforms. That means you not only have access to a new customer base, but to their connections as well.

Your followers’ engagement on social media can expand your reach, as they engage with their own networks. Putting a dollar value on such social reach is fairly meaningless — but it has the potential to add to your bottom line both now and in the future.

What’s more, a recent McKinsey study attributes word of mouth to be the primary influence for up to 50% of all purchase decisions. The study authors go on to say, “Followers who are not yet purchasers can share their experience with the brand, and deepen their commitment to the brand, even prior to that first purchase.”

It’s time we start thinking about social media success in this new way: in terms of potential and expanding value, rather than just immediate dollar amounts.

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