Social media is enormously important to Americans. A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that the great majority of us use Facebook and YouTube, and sizeable percentages use Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Nearly a quarter of us use WhatsApp and 27% use Snapchat.
Looking at the 18-24 crowd specifically, the report finds that 78% use Snapchat and 71% visit several times a day. 94% of them use YouTube — an astonishingly high number, in the scheme of things. This demographic is in fact on every popular social channel repeatedly throughout the day.
But what’s the ROI?
What we’ve seen is that even as social media usage climbs, businesses are questioning their value in marketing.
Facebook has made it clear that they expect business users to pay if they want to play. Likes don’t mean much and your posts aren’t being shown much under the new algorithm. But Facebook — and other social media platforms — are also making it easier to sell directly from their platforms if you’re willing to invest in ads. Businesses should get over the idea that social media is a free marketing method. It’s still quite reasonable compared with legacy media, but you can’t expect to hand it over to your intern and be happy with your results.
And we’ve seen over the years that traffic from social media usually doesn’t convert as well as organic search traffic, direct traffic, or paid search visitors.
These factors make plenty of professional marketers questions the value of social media. “We’re not going to do it just because we’re supposed to do it,” a former client told us. If they didn’t see a rise in sales, they didn’t want to invest in social media.
And a rise in sales is a good place to look for the ROI. We see that social media increases traffic and engagement, but e-commerce gives you firm data if sales are your top KPI. 16Best created an infographic detailing the life and times of social shopping.
Grab a cup of coffee and explore the data. Spoiler alert — conversion rates still average about 1%.
But social media is still key for brand awareness, thought leadership, patient or client engagement, and even customer service. You’ll probably face some consequences if you give it up.