What is the true value of social media activity?

November 9, 2010 at 16:06

Anita Papay, Consultant, communication matters

You probably all recognise the following situation: your client is convinced that using different online tools for their public relations and marketing activities is a good idea – but the marketing and communications director is finding it difficult to justify the cost versus benefit of social media activities. Within classic PR, evaluation methods are established, tried and tested, but in the case of social media, the industry is still in its infancy in understanding the value of online communications and searching for adequate analytics and measurement tools.

In the end, PR specialists need to take the matter into their own hands to prevent the interesting field of social media from being dominated by pure media agencies. The very first step is to eliminate the loopholes in the argument at the earliest opportunity and demonstrate the real value of online activities using all of the available information.   The same dilemmas, the same questions, return time and time again:

  • How much is an online campaign worth?
  • How much is a fan/friend or a follower worth?

I would like to share with you one particular idea that I found in a blog (http://www.andersdenken.at/wert-facebook-fanpage-value/) and which is based on the typical cost, per thousand printed pages, of advertising). Taking the Facebook site of an Austrian city in the Tyrolean Alps — Innsbruck (www.facebook.com/innsbruck) as an example – we can start a simple calculation of the value of social media.

What is the value of a newsfeed on Facebook

The city of Innsbruck’s Facebook page has 14,260 fans. If you post a newsfeed, which on average creates 170 interactions such as comments or “I like” clicks, then usually an average of 130 fan contacts will also be notify. This makes a total of 22,100 impressions. If you posted one newsfeed per week, this would create 88,400 impressions per month for your brand.

What is the value of a Facebook fan?

A fan page with 10,000 fans has an audience penetration of 1,300,000. The number of fans rises by an average of 1,000 per month, which means an additional audience penetration of 130,000 each month.

What is the value of a Facebook fan-page?

The price you use for the cost per thousand impressions depends on you, but to simplify the calculation, let’s take €15 per 1,000 views – which is nothing out of the ordinary. That would mean that every newsfeed has a value of €331.50 (or €1,326.00 for four newsfeeds each month). Thanks to the additional audience penetration resulting from fans, you can add €1,950 each month.

In total, this means that every Facebook fan-page creates €3,276.00 worth of advertising each month.  In other words, this is similar to the cost of the gross salary of one employee with nothing else to do than making one Facebook news item every week.

Social Media is better than classical advertising

Compared to classical advertising, social media newsfeeds have an effect for longer. Every time somebody:

  • Comments on your pictures or your newsfeeds,
  • Likes something
  • Evaluates some content on your Facebook page

You are starting a chain reaction of notifications, which can reach an increasing number of people on a daily basis. In addition, the “I Like” notification can be compared to the advice of a good friend, giving it a higher value than that of an advertisement.

This calculation is certainly not the definitive ‘value’ nor the panacea for social media evaluation – simply an attempt to compare like with (almost) like: a methodology used by most media while defending the prices of advertising space and, perhaps, a methodology that is most likely to be accepted by decision-makers.

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