Which social network gives best bang for marketing $?

The reality for all businesses is that marketing resources are in limited supply. In addition, how a brand invests its resources on social media for best return is important for three main reasons. (a) This is still a new channel by all accounts (and it operates with a unique set of rules), and thus “testing of the waters” is not over yet for some of the Marketers. (b) The channel is still growing, and the latest (un)publicized entrance was by Microsoft’s So.cl. This necessitates keeping watch of these new entrants and reviewing strategies where applicable. (c) From the African continent’s perspective, social media have limited penetration, which I estimate to be under 10% currently,  using Facebook as a proxy. This indicates that there are brands still playing a wait and see game as they are not certain about the future potential of this new channel.

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The key starting point for every brand MUST be clear articulation of social media marketing goals.

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A natural next step is a decision on social media metrics that will be used to measure achievement against the set goals, and this is where the strengths of the various social networks are considered.

Priit Kallas‘s blog on social media KPI’s associated with key social network marketing goals is a good read. In addition, I recommend Radian6‘s cheat sheet on social media measurement equations.

A brand with a social media marketing goal – thought leadership – has to include sharing, referring rates, & subscription growth in its metrics. Netmarketshare, which tracks 14 main social networks including Google+, is great at assisting with a choice of the best social network(s) to invest a brand’s resources in for the biggest bang related to the thought leadership goal.

% of All Web Referrals
% of All Web Referrals – Jul ’11 to May ’12 (Source: NetMarketShare)

For the 11 months to May 2012, 8 out of 10 social network referrals came from Facebook, followed by Youtube and StumbleUpon. A brand that incorporates a lot of links in its content stands a better chance of getting the highest referral traffic from these top 3 social networks. Blogging sites (including Inmarketingspeak, of course) fall into this category brands. Netmarkshare goes further to indicate the number of Page Views, % of New Visitors and Bounce Rate per referring social network site. This is an important indicator of the quality of traffic from each of the tracked social networks.

Here are key metric stats for the top 3 referrers:

Key Metrics for Top 3 Social Networks
Table 1: Key Metrics for Top 3 Social Networks

Comparison of metric stats for the top 3 social networks in Table 1 gives clear guidance how brands must invest their resources to achieve their social media marketing goals.

There are two caveats linked to the use of Netmarketshare. Social Media Referral stats are only global, and cannot be broken down by Country. In addition, referral stats for the 2012 year to date (11 months) are not audited yet. As with all online stats, a level of caution must be applied in the interpretation and drawing of insights. In the case of Mzansi, StatCounter can be used to validate Netmarketshare’s stats.

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  • Nuffdotty – where thoughts on the subject of education, mostly relating to South Africa, are shared
  • Diski4Life – a blog about development of South African soccer post World Cup 2010

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