How much of your company's revenue can be attributed to social media campaigns?

Many people don’t know. They’re too busy to study it, and any sane person would rather have their eyes spooned out than try to wade through Google Analytics. (I love GA, but it's a beast.)

I’ll wager my first and only child that your website’s traffic from social media channels is less than 8% if you’re posting daily and less than 4% if you’re not.

And traffic is not revenue.

Drill deeper and you’ll find that only a fraction of that fractional traffic corresponds to behavior that aligns with a business goal (ie, purchases, appointments, donations).

When I see clients step up their efforts on social media, the increase in traffic is usually 1–3%. (Your mileage may vary, but I'll bet you'd be hard-pressed to see significant revenue gains from even successful social campaigns. Again, I'm assuming the goal isn't more traffic — it's more revenue.)

I know what you’re thinking: “Maybe they just need to improve their social media campaigns.”

Sure — better planning and execution can make a difference, but the gains are usually negligible. Looking at e-commerce, research from McKinsey shows that social media is one of the worst performing customer acquisition sources:
customer acquisition growth by channel

I don't know of any businesses that have an unlimited budget for their design and communications initiatives. I haven't worked with any. Most companies have to be smart about how they invest their resources. 

So when I hear a client considering investing in social media, I look at their data and almost always end up telling them:

website is the asset that is closest to your bank account.

People cannot {insert goal here: buy a product, make an appointment, put a donation on their credit card} through Facebook or Twitter. And even if they could they wouldn’t — because any online transaction requires at least a little trust, and you’re not going to earn that trust in 280 characters.

Moreover, your analytics show that most of your high-value website traffic is from organic search. You should invest in organic search, which means you should invest in:

  1. improving the content and experience you’re providing on your site now, and/or
  2. creating useful, relevant content for your audience.

Beyond that, invest in your email newsletter because it will outperform other social channels:

email newsletters roi

I’m not saying you should shut down your social media accounts. I make these suggestions when I hear a client planning to invest heavily in social media at the expense of their website or newsletter.

Maybe you're thinking: “Of course you advise people to invest in their website and newsletter. That's the business you're in.”

Fair point, but don’t forget that we choose how we help clients. If I believed social media was a way to help clients and the people they serve, Super Helpful would be a social media marketing company — or at least we would offer services related to social media. And in years past, before I launched Super Helpful, I did handle social media for clients.

Today, you won’t find anything on our website about social media services because social media has practically no meaningful impact on client revenue.

So why do companies invest in social media?

Many change course when presented with the evidence. But what about the others?

My sense is that social media provides employees with the illusion of progress.

Facebook is where many people hang out. When they see posts about their work on Facebook, they feel proud or excited. This is especially true for nonprofits. They can like or share a post and feel like they’re contributing.

And that has some value. Don’t shut down your company's Facebook Page. Just know the true purpose it’s serving.

See, Facebook only shows posts from your company to a tiny percentage of followers (around 5%), unless you pay them to boost the post. And from what I’ve seen, Facebook often knows who works at a company; Its algorithms seem to prioritize showing posts to employees. So if a significant portion of that 5% is made up of your own staff, many Facebook posts can almost be seen as a way for employees to cheer each other on.

Now, your email newsletters can get filtered into spam but there’s no gatekeeper insisting that you pay them to show your newsletters to more than a handful of your subscribers.

And Google’s search algorithms reward sites based things like usability, speed, and quality of content. You can pay Google to bring searchers to your site, but PPC campaigns only capture a tiny fraction of traffic compared to organic search:

What about you?

How do you balance priorities regarding website content and design development vs social vs newsletter, etc.?

Are your social media efforts having a positive influence on your business revenue? 

Hit reply and let me know. I'm eager to hear how your experience compares.

Thanks for reading,