How to value social media audiences

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What’s the value of a Facebook fan? A Twitter follower? Suppose you wanted to get an apples-to-apples comparison of the value of different audience members. How would you go about getting that information? Here’s one method that might work for you based in Google’s Multichannel Funnel analytics.

To get started, first make sure you have goals and goal values set up for your site. If you don’t have these established, nothing else is going to matter much, so make sure they’re working first.

Next, go to Google Analytics and set up custom conversion segments for each of the channels you want to track. This follows the identical syntax for setting up social media segments in regular analytics, which you can find in this post. In this example, I’ve set up conversion segments for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Assisted Conversions - Google Analytics

With the basic segments set up, you should now see your channel values for the individual networks and conversion overall.

Assisted Conversions - Google Analytics

It’s time to bust out your spreadsheet. Set up columns for each of the values that Google shows you – channel, assist value, last interaction value, and a summary column. Then, if you’re using the standard 30 day timeframe that Google Analytics uses, measure the average audience count on each of the channels you have over the past 30 days. For example, if you had on average 5,000 followers on Twitter in the past 30 days, use that.

Create 3 columns after the total, audience value per total, per assist, and per last touch, and set up simple division between the audience column and the dollar value columns:


This gives you a dollar value per audience member for the total, for the assist, and for the last touch. From here, start thinking about questions you need to ask and cases you need to test. For example, in the above chart, Facebook is bringing half the value per audience member of Twitter. Why is this? Is it something I’m doing with Twitter that I’m not doing with Facebook? Have I got a better, more targeted audience on Twitter? This is a case worth investigating – are there practices I could be doing on Facebook that would drive more value, or different pools of audience to fish in?

Another question that leaps out is that Twitter has a relatively low assist value, meaning it doesn’t push people into conversions, as strongly as it provides last touch value. Should I be doing something different on Twitter to improve assist value, and what can I do to improve assist value without cannibalizing from last touch value?

There’s an important warning I have to give here: none of the above data are answers. None of the above data tells you conclusively that you have the right audience, right offer, and right content. None of the above data should make you immediately change your marketing practices. The above data simply tells you what’s happening now and is the starting point for asking new questions. It is by no means an endpoint for leaping to conclusions.

By setting up apples to apples comparisons of the value of various audiences, you’ll end up in a better place, a better position to ask questions about where you’re finding your audiences and how they’re working for you. Try this out and see what new questions you can ask about your social media efforts.

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