Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success


7 min read

Posted by Karen McHugh on March 21, 2017

Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success

Social Media and Business Success

At our most recent Arekibo Workshop and at the 3XE Digital Conference in February, we discussed Social Media & Business Success. We often have clients come to us asking how they can show their bosses that investing in Social Media influences overall business success. In this blog post I will take you through 4 sections:
  1. The Realities of Social Media
  2. Why Social
  3. Social Media Strategy
  4. Measuring Social Media Success
We also carried out some research at the 3xe event asking Ireland's Marketers today questions about their Social Activity and Strategy. Check out our infographic at the end of this post or click here.

The Realities

There are many realities and somewhat challenges today for social media marketers. The following are the top realities we come across today:

Reality #1: The Boss is Not Convinced

This may not apply to everyone but many social marketers are still struggling to prove to their bosses that Social Media is in fact contributing to their overall business success. We still come across clients who are questioning investing in Social Media. Many senior executives, CEOs , and decision makers are still questioning how social media can help improve business. Lets just look at some of today's statistics of Social Media usage in Ireland.
  • 82% of the Irish population are Internet Users
  • 76% of the Irish Population are Mobile Internet Users
  • 59% of the Irish Population are Active Social Media Users
And... It's Still Growing.
  • Active Social Media Users have grown 8% between January 2016 & January 2017
  • Active Mobile Social Users have grown 13% between January 2016 & January 2017
Below are the Top Social Networks used in Ireland:
Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success - social networks
and the Top Social Messenger's used in Ireland:
Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success - social messenger  

Reality #2: Social Organic Reach is Declining

Social organic reach  is the amount of people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution on a social network. Today people's newsfeeds are flooded with content. Amongst all of the social networks there is one main theme in relation to newsfeeds. And that is Relevancy over Recency

Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success - relevancy over recency

Instagram stated last year that on average people miss 70% of their feeds. And due to that they changed their algorithm so now it is no longer in chronological order but the content they believe is most relevant to the user will go first. Twitter also added a new feature to their newsfeed last year which is the ‘in case you missed it’ feature in which they share the best tweets. And LinkedIn they make the newsfeed simple to customise so that users can hide particular types of content and they can unfollow brands or users.

Reality #3: Paid Ads are Required

As a result of organic reach declining many social marketers are opting to paid ads. We see everyday on social networks that they are encouraging brands or page owners to boost posts To boost their posts by sharing examples of what your ads can look like below:

Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success - social advertising

Reality #4: The Non-Trackable

Unfortunately there are some issues today with tracking on social. Dark traffic on social is an increasingly important source of referral traffic. We are seeing that Direct Traffic has been creeping up in last few years and in particular on mobile. And that is down to a number of sources:

Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success - dark social

These include SMS or Chat apps. Apps like Whatsapp, Facebook messenger or even slack and google hangouts do not pass referrers when someone clicks on a link so therefore they appear as "direct" traffic within your analytics reports. Then personal email providers like Gmail, yahoo etc. have strict privacy regulations so they don’t pass referrer codes. Also native apps. A lot of apps now are shifting towards keeping content in-app. And finally there is private browsing which includes browsing on chrome incognito mode.

Reality #5: Time and Resource

To fully invest in Social media and social paid ads marketers need more time and people to plan, create engaging content and measure. And also more budget to target the right users.

Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success - time people budget    

Why invest in social?

After reading those realities/challenges you may not be entirely convinced to invest in Social Media. So why should you?.. Well first of all your consumers are there.

Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success - your consumers are there

2.7 billion people are on social media. That is nearly 40% of the planet. Users go there to consume content and to browse. If you target the right people they will engage. People are spending nearly 2 hours a day on social media and social ads are directly within their newsfeed. Its not a banner ad on the side of the screen. As well as that it is still growing and this is down to two major drivers which is the growth in mobile and older user adoption.  

Social Media Strategy

If you want to invest in a social presence it is essential to have a social media strategy in place and also to have a format for measuring and tracking success. Your social media strategy should answer the following questions.

Unlocking the Relationship between Social Media and Business Success - social strategy
The WHY – why are you of social? for the sake of being there? Just because your competitors are there? If that’s the only reason this will burn valuable time and resources. Answer the question of ‘why’ your business is on social and what you would like to accomplish
The HOW – How will you succeed? This is your specific tactics to succeeding. This can be specific to social channels, paid advertising budget.
The WHAT – What will you measure? - Key Metrics and Goals that you would like to accomplish broken down into weeks, months, and the year. Breaking it down like this will allow you to focus on day-to- day activities while also keeping the big picture in mind.  

Measuring Social Media Success

The final section here is based around measuring social media success. Without a structured approach to looking at the impact of your social media activities on your business performance, you risk burning valuable time and resources with no solid justification. Many marketers are looking for the Social ROI figure however, the issue with Social ROI is that there is not a simple, universal formula to calculate it. There is multiple factors to take into account such as Dark Social, cross attribution, putting a value on each of your goals - the value of those goals could be different for each social network or each campaign and so on. Success is different to every company. It's best to look at the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator's) which could be sales, donations, awareness, subscriptions, downloads or a number of other factors.

The following is a simple 7 step method of finding the relationship between social media and business success:


The slideshow above shares the 7 step process to tracking social media success.
1. Know your goals
Knowing your goals is critical to any social media strategy.  Decisions should be shaped around these goals. Without clearly defined goals, your marketing plan will be ineffective. We like to use the S.M.A.R.T model: Specific – Who? What? Why? Measurable – Choose a specific number for the growth Attainable – Make sure the number is realistic Relevant – Does growing your Facebook page support your business’s objectives, vision, or values? Time-bound – What deadline will you set?
2. Establish your baseline
It is important to establish a baseline of where you stand right now so that you can best determine future successes and opportunities for improvement. To know where to start, it’s important that you know where you currently stand on the situation. To do this we advise to carry out an audit of how you performed in the last month.  This will show you where you were before you started and where you are after your social media activities.
3. Track activity
It’s important to create and maintain a timeline of all of your marketing activities. Keeping track of the investment you’re putting into social is essential to tracking progress. This could be split into a couple of categories such as one for paid and one for non-paid social.
4. Track goals
Once you’ve established your baseline and you’re tracking your activity, the next step is to check the appropriate metrics and see how you’re performing. This can include different categories such as Web Goals, Social Goals, Campaign Goals etc. It will help find out more about your social followers and what’s working.
5. Look at Revenue
The term revenue may not apply to every business - This step is to basically look at your business’ main KPI’s.  That may be Web Traffic, Social Goals or Lead Generation etc.
6. Overlay all the Data
This  is where we put all of our timelines together.
7. Look for Patterns
As we have gathered the timelines together, we are now hoping to find relationships between our activity, our Social goals and our Business KPI’s. If over a long period of time no correlated patterns are emerging then you know that changes to your social strategy are required - maybe you're using the wrong channels for your business, posting the wrong content, maybe your goals are unrealistic. What I have shared with you here is a method to see if your social activity is contributing to your overall business. This may not be a snap your fingers and get results type of method. But the point is you have to start somewhere. Don’t let yourself get bogged down on the Social ROI formula and just start tracking.

Social Media in Ireland Infographic

Infographic Social Media and Business Success  

About the Author

Karen McHugh
Karen McHugh

Karen worked at Arekibo as a Digital Strategist. She has a keen interest in analytics and social media advertising, having spoken at a number of conferences for Arekibo.