Understand the Value of Your Social Followers

One of the most difficult tasks for many working in marketing is to understand just how much it can be worth to cultivate a social following, and to build that community. Similarly, from a paid search perspective, while we are trying to lead potential customers to pages with as direct a conversion funnel as possible, we find ourselves with page elements that lead those site visitors off the domain and into the social realm. In either of these cases, and many others, we will want to know what the value of the click from the main domain to the social space is worth (i.e. will that person come back and convert, how much value do we assign to a paid search visitor who uses a social escape click, etc…).


One way to tackle this situation, (and there are going to be many, with pros and cons a plenty) is to analyze the conversion events that happen just for returning users from social sources, not including paid advertisements on those channels. I will start by saying, don’t underestimate the value of paid social, as that channel has become increasingly efficient and has allowed amazing granularity in targeting.


Using a custom segment, which includes some of the expected sources of channels that I will attribute to “Social” (NOTE: the automatic channel grouping that happens in Google Analytics can often be spotty, so run these as custom groupings). Further define the segment such that it is only looking at returning users and with the condition that the mediums not be paid variants (e.g. “cpc” and “ppc” or whatever UTM params that are manually created to identify your paid channels). I’ve included a link to a segment like this, here.


Running this analysis for one client, I can see a picture as follows:

Average Value per Unique User Over 1 Year All Users Returning Social, Un-Paid Visitors Lift
Facebook  $            2.23  $                                                          7.47 235%
Google+  $            2.46  $                                                        17.92 629%
Pinterest  $            3.76  $                                                        18.95 404%
YouTube  $            0.61  $                                                          2.80 357%


The way I interpret this is that organically generated initial social visitors result in fairly standard engagement and sales (the overall per-user value for this client is about $2.99). However, those who have previously interacted with the site and are now part of the social community, are leaps and bounds more valuable. From this, it might be recommended to build this community as much as possible.


One could also look at the ratios of users and revenue generated. For this example, I see that while only 20% of the users from social sources were return users, those return users accounted for 74% of revenue from that channel.


It should be stressed that what this indicates is an immense need for multi-touch/multi-channel attribution, so that every channel that has contributed to the initial engagement of what has become a fan of the product can not only be given credit, but be encouraged to generate more of those initial touches, building the fan base.


Now, the question will be “how much value do you place on those social escapes?” There is a key piece of information that is needed, and that is to know how many NEW users to your site are clicking on the buttons that take them to your social community pages (e.g. to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…). After you’ve that tracking in place, you can run reports within Google Analytics that allow you figure out how many of the people who visited your site as new users, then clicked a social button, and finally came back later. This “social conversion” rate can then be multiplied across your value per returning user, to gain a value you can apply to the event of the social click, which then informs your other channels of the added value they are gaining for the company through their actions.


As an example, this company showed 509 new users in one month clicked on the links to the company’s Facebook page. Of those users, 82 came back in the following three months. We could call this a social conversion rate of 16%. Since we see that, for this company, the per user return value over one year is $7.47, that would lead to a per new user click on the Facebook button of $1.20. This is an incredibly significant number, which can be added to the value of the session that drove the new user to the site in the first place, allowing that source to push harder, generating more and more revenue for the company as a whole.


So, what do we do with this? Here are a few of the actions that I’d recommend.

  • Run this analysis for your own company
  • Ensure tracking is in place so that you know how many times someone leaves your site to go to your social pages (especially, so that you can see how many new users get exposed to your social communities in this fashion) – this is usually done with event tracking in Google Analytics
  • Crunch the numbers

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