ROI with Social Network? The numbers talk… Game Over

Pubblicato il Pubblicato in The Fuffington Post, Web Marketing

Translation by Valentina Paoloni

Con i social network, non si vende!In the light of what I have recently read on the net, I have deeply analyzed some websites with Analytics data, pointing out the difference between the Social data and the Search data, the one coming from the search engines .

I have differentiated the same data considering the websites which have a page on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter, from a PPC in AdWords.

This distinction is made in order to obtain parameters to compare the “real numeric” organic and the data coming from “pay” sources, the PPC (AdWords).

If it’s true that in social networks it is possible to sell, and that they are essential to take the users toward the website and the brand, I have some numbers, very interesting, which I will provide later in order to understand if it is only a trend of mine or, as I think, there could be a connection between a “bad placement” SEO and a social support.

My “provocation” is the following:

Instead of SMM I would say SMB ( Social Media Branding), because the numbers clearly affirm ( 8 websites analyzed in different areas) that what declared by other professional social media experts has no correspondence with reality. (Converted data discussed also in the greatest limited group of SMM professionals on Facebook)

When a business marketing manager reads that with social media it’s possible to sell, does he have to distrust? Perhaps yes.

The doubt has come to me, in terms of nett percentages, with or without PPC actions from the effective returns in referral. I am going to explain better:

If we consider a website of a small or medium company in the Italian market, the average traffic, calculated on 12 months coming from Facebook, turned out to be more than 7% per month with a high bounce ( landing and immediate exit) and a low staying time. All that makes necessarily think that the user is not interested; at the same time…there is who cheats!
Numbers and real data are something different from the “potential” of the social networks, do you think so? Then…somebody having only the Facebook page affirms to have very high data, interactions and more…ok, but how much do they convert/sell? Do they have a website? Maybe crumbling and/or old? Unpleasant from the graphic point of view? Difficult to surf? Maybe in Flash?

Analysis and data:

The screenshot come from Analytics, I have considered 8 websites. In this feature we show only two cases, among the most meaningful. One website with active AdWords campaigns, another one without them, but both with very lively social pages ( it is not useful to quantify the “like” and the followers), active Twitter, pages in G+, Youtube with more than 10 videos with more than 10.000 visits each, etc….

I social Networks convertono? Che percentuale di conversione hanno i social?

Servono i social networks?

Analysed Time: SEPTEMBER 2011SEPTEMBER 2012

I think that it is not necessary to comment these data, on more than 44.000 accesses, the “potential” conversions / visits on the “outlined” link are more than 1.600. The effective conversions, which have filled out the form and confirmed the payment in the website trolley, are 17. Complete funnel. AdWords, search side for this website, on the total accesses, records the sales with a “certification” of more than 60%. Maths is not an opinion, the resulted percentages are easy to derive.

Social Networks vendono o no? Conversione da social Networks?

Potenziale dei social networks I social come mezzi di vendita?

Vendere con i social network

Website with more relevant numbers, different area, but the macro access data, 248.000 accesses and 3.000 from the social networks with 148 “tracked” conversions, make think once again about that. In terms DAO, the obtained shape is totally a “DATA” and not only the social one has a value G+, Twitter and also Facebook….the “SOCIAL DATA” has been useful in order to do branding? Communication with the brand users?

Ok… it is not possible to talk about sales.

It looks like obvious that if I am on a Social Network, I am not looking for advertising. If I am on a Social Network just to “talk crap” ( waste my time), it is easy that a title can sound interesting to me and intrigue, but then, after I have reached the website… I loose my interest and I run away. On the contrary, if I stay on a search engine…I am doing an action: I am really looking for something!!!

It’s true that…it is possible that the message has been passed anyway, it is perhaps caused more by the branding or the advertising, but the real purchase coming from the social network, funnel of the purchasing process, has to be demonstrated.

Considering that any Digital PR or social network expert will be never able to demonstrate that, except within a maximum of an additional “potential 10%” of visits to a specific website, what we are talking about? If my website gets billions of visits, an average of 7-10% can be an additional value, but for Tom, Dick and Harry who have 7 – 10 accesses per day to their website, considering to compete against IKEA, sounds a little bit impossible!

Then…here comes the social network GURU and with a specific “mini marketing” action increases the numbers of Fans and of “like”, also of the landing in the website, perhaps. So that, Tom, Dick and Harry ask: “Would have probably been more useful to pay Google AdWords and build a pair of furniture, instead of a huge amount of “I like it” which are not helpful neither to produce the sawdust for the cat litter?”

Is that true or untrue, my dear “Social Media Managers”?

When you will be brave to tell your clients that we are talking about these numbers and not about the potential numeric/user of a program instead of another one? It’s not the amount of LIKE which determines a sale or not, it is not the amount of FAN in a page which calculates the skills of a social media marketing manager; the communications channel, service, customers service…all that is part of the KPI (Key Performace Indicator) which has to be so well contextualised, and only the social networks are not enough.

On e-commerce…it depends on the numbers and on the product type, it looks like to be Chinese!!! If there are not high numbers of users, that 7% looks like to be almost unimportant. Just to point out…it works as branding, maybe it opens a communications channel and something else, before that some confirmed salesman (expert in e-commerce and Digital Marketing) reprimands me, claiming that, according to his thought, the social networks are absolutely useful….without doubt, but what about the numbers?

The data which somebody translates into Italian from different markets don’t have any objective confirmation, it sounds like to sell smoke and it would be necessary to distinguish an investment from what is a cost. Is the social network a communication “channel” with users? Perfect, it is a COST. Is the social network a sales “channel”? So that it is an INVESTMENT. How many people want to contest these two simple sentences?

I point out, once again, just to avoid to be attacked by the many social experts, that I am here not to affirm that this is not a “helpful” cost for a company willing to increase their own visibility, according to a brand awareness strategy, or to build a direct communications channel with their own clients, all advantages which can be obtained by the social networks.

The thing I am here questioning about is the attitude by somebody to not consider the numbers, just to gain more customers. Considering the numbers, it is better to be clear and honest with the marketing managers or small businessmen, concerning the fact that, putting a part of the budget in social communication will not increase the sales.

If the declared aim of the company is that, let’s be honest and suggest to invest in the DAO asset starting by the website and, then, the rest, rather than persisting on the social networks. If the aim to reach is another one…open all the profils you like on every social network of the world.

Who is going to explain that? If some “social media manager” or “instructor” wants to “contradict” what I am writing in favour of the companies, by numbers and cases history related to Italian small and medium companies, considering not the big brands, the discussion can be useful, because the data don’t agree with the social networks, and many companies have already understood that.

Be careful, I am not interested in the impressions, we are not talking about that, and it is better to repeat it again: investment/return of the investment in direct sales on the website or effective contacts transformed into sales. Are you able to understand the difference, or can we only affirm that social networks are a “potential” to create new forms of “non professionals” educated by as many unknown people who can’t demonstrate these numbers?

End of the eternal discussion: with social media it is not possible to sell, this is a shared “data”, even if there is somebody who has written the contrary. I understand and respect that, but then…I think that it is important to demonstrate all the written things.

Many people organize courses for aspirant Social Media Manager; there are out and out Academies, but it is not possible to know who has teached “the teachers” or which institution has them certificated as point of reference. Companies, please, wake up!!! The communicators of digital media and social network are people working in the area, recognized, who are able to “demonstrate” all that previously written, and they are not the usual group of privileged people expert in “Fuffologia” about which I have already largely written.

The numbers TALK, SCREAM. As luck wants…just the contrary of what is affirmed on some websites and sellers of toilet paper ( which is useful at least ) who, important to remind, mention data sources which in turn, what do they depend on? It is not possible to know that…it is neither Facebook neither Twitter. Direct channels with Facebook? For the great market as in the USA it is possible to know the macro world data…but what about Italy?

And so…where can we take the data from? You, social media marketing experts, write to “impress” the marketing manager “unaware” of the digital media? From the PPC system of Facebook? A nominal value, not absolute, NEVER determines a real conversion, but a potential, what on the basis of? Click? Impressions/ visits?

Let’s hope in the authorships and in the system which Google is producing by the “Social Search”.

GAME OVER

Alessandro Vitale

Articoli Web Marketing

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