Have Marketers Cracked Social RoI?

Social has traditionally been the CMO’s dream but the CFO’s nightmare. CMOs have known their brands need to be there because that’s where the audience is but CFOs have been sceptical because of scant evidence that all of this investment in time and money was delivering rewards. But all of that is beginning to change according to Adobe’s recently released Social Intelligence Report*.The headline figures are impressive. Adobe found that Revenue per Visit (RPV), based on both first and last click attribution models, was up 39% year-on-year (Q3 2012 vs. Q3 2013) for Facebook, 150% for Pinterest and 300% for Twitter. Despite slower growth, Facebook was still found to be the leading platform for RPV (see below) followed by Pinterest and Twitter (see below).RPV_By_Social_PlatformHowever, the faster growth of the latter 2 platforms meant they’d stolen some share from Facebook – Facebook’s share of social referred visits was down 20%, but Pinterest’s were up 84% and Twitter’s up 258%. However, these high growth stats were from small bases and Facebook remained by far and away the dominant social platform for site referrals.Share_of_Social_Visits_By_PlatformSo why have social referrals and RPVs from social sites increased so much in the past year? Adobe puts it down to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter putting more tools into the hands of marketers to engage and target their audiences more effectively and marketers getting better at using those tools.Taking a closer look at brand posts on Facebook, Adobe’s study found that content published to brand pages was up 79% whilst engagement was up 115%. Brands have clearly latched onto the fact that images on Facebook drive higher engagement than text (600% higher according to the study) as image posts were up 9% year-on-year. However, video posts remain an untapped opportunity for higher engagement – engagement on videos was just slightly lower than engagement on images (3.5% vs. 4.3%) but video post volume fell 40% year-on -year.Social_Engagement_by_Post_TypeMarketers are also starting to take advantage of the greater post targeting possibilities. For example, geo-targeted posts were found to deliver 13% more engagement than non-geo targeted posts – no doubt a key factor in the 67% growth of posts targeted in this manner between 2012 and 2013.Geo-Targeted_PostsAnother factor in the greater effectiveness of social was improvement in the RoI of Facebook advertising – up 58%. That’s because Facebook has put better advertising tools at marketers’ disposal and marketers have got better at using those tools. CTRs are up 275% year on year, a trend that has driven many marketers to purchase on a CPM basis in the search for greater value – although as a result CPM rates have increased by 120% and CPCs have fallen by 40%. If RoI is going to continue to grow, marketers are going to need to focus continually on optimising their campaigns to keep on top of trends like these.So what are the key learnings from Adobe’s report? If you’re looking to increase your social spend, you should be able to do so with some justification. Facebook remains the dominant platform, but Pinterest and Twitter are coming up on the rails and demanding a least a consideration of further diversifying your spend. As long as you keep on top of your metrics and keep optimising your activity, both earned and paid for, you should get less pushback from your CFO. But don’t expect that look of scepticism to completely disappear from their face just yet.You can read Adobe’s full Social Intelligence Report here.* Adobe analysed 131 billion Facebook ad impressions, 400 million unique visits to social sites, 1.04 billion Facebook posts and 4.3 billion comments, shares and likes.