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the cost of social media
Results from a 25-point social media reach-out research project.

Last month, September 14th to be exact, I posted a blog about such a social media research project. With all the hype around social media marketing strategies and available tactics for businesses, I was curious if a full throttle social media approach would make a difference for a small business with my revenue model. I earn money from consulting, speaking and writing.

Objective: Determine if a 25-point social media effort is worth the investment and results.

TOP LINE FINDINGS FROM STUDY
Is a social media blitz on 25 different points of contact a good use of time and money that produces a meaningful return and results vs. the cost?

In my opinion, to date, from these efforts, NO. Could this change in 6 months, YES. It’s too early to track long-tail results such as if the Fox News report touches a book buyer, another media source or a future client from the visibility.

We invested over $3,800 in time, and that time could have been used for higher income generating activities. (As a side note, I realize my current business model has limited online revenue channels to convert, monetize and track.) But with our current model, the time and money resources we spent on social media, I believe this investment could have been better used and generated more of a return if we had spent that same amount on direct sales initiatives, ad words and media buys to produce better results.

Could these efforts payoff later?
Yes, the good thing about social media is, once it’s out there, it’s pretty permanent, so future clients could stumble upon our past efforts, articles and links. Additionally, the new visitors who come back to the site can buy products and services in the future now that they are aware of my site. And all of these social media efforts do aid in Search Engine Optimization. And for me SEO produced over $100,000 in fees this past year alone.

Was there one powerful means of social media that I believe is really worth it’s weight in gold from this test?
Our Mailchimp newsletter, (which is an aggregation of our blog feed) drives the most traffic to our site. Our Google analytics also shows that the top referral sources include: Twitter, TalentZoo newsletter and key media coverage.


If you decide to try monitoring your efforts and results from social media, you must first define what good results look like. For my companies, success from a marketing effort would look like:  More value than investment.

Our value framework was defined as:

  • An increase in unique visitors to site
  • An increase in new opt-ins to our mailing list
  • An increase in affiliate sales
  • An increase in book and product sales
  • An increase in speaking engagements
  • An increase in consulting projects
  • An increase in (a top-tier, media source calling me for an interview)

Our value achieved that we can quantify:

  • We’ve had an increase in unique visitors to our site by 100%
  • We had 20 opt-ins to our mailing list in last 30 days (value $10.00 each)
  • We sold 7 affiliate items and earned $7.00
  • New book sales (can’t track yet)
  • Product sales via tools store (our store was not up at the time of this test)
  • New speaking engagements from blog (0)
  • New consulting projects from blog (0)
  • Top-tier media source interview (1) – Live.Foxnews.com booked me for 10/25

Investment is defined as time and money:
I look at time invested as actually paid time, plus the cost of missed opportunity because our time was tied up on this social media project, other tasks were put to the side.

Time expense on this project was calculated at: 17 hours at $300 an hour = $3700
My time includes: writing of the initial blog that we were touting (Branding and the Beast – How to not get bullied.), the blog about our 25-point study, I planned and did analysis of this project, completed items 1-8 out of 25 on the list and wrote this follow up blog of our results.

My staff‘s time to do list items 9-25 and participate in planning and analysis of our project was equal to 10 hours at an average of $60.00. Billable rate = $600.00.

Total cost of project: $4,300.00
Results that you can take to the bank = 0
Soft results that possibly can translate in future earnings = $500.00
Bottom line: Loss of $3,800.00

The 25-point social media activities we did to promote the blog and gain meaningful results, see original post for list.

Bottom line – should businesses bank on this type of expense?
I believe strong brands are cumulative efforts and any business’ marketing should include a diverse mix of touch points including social media.

Do you think social media efforts should have the same pull as a sharply designed direct response campaign where the credibility helps and sometime just the right placement turns into a home run at the end of season?

Brand On!