It’s a beautiful morning, and you are on your way into the office, excited to start your day. You’ve recently launched a new social media campaign that you are confident will produce significant Likes and shares. You can’t wait to check the numbers. Your excitement has brought you to the office early before your building gets busy.

Social Attribution Education Kit


As you enter the office, making your way across the lobby to the bank of elevators, you notice it’s just you and one other employee. Your CEO. The two of you enter the elevator and before you’ve even exchanged pleasantries, she asks, “So what is social media doing for our business?”

Since you’re a rock star social media marketer, you’re more than ready with recent figures on audience growth, engagement rates by channel, clicks, and campaign highlights. Your CEO listens intently as you enthusiastically share your updates while the elevator quickly ascends. As your floor approaches, she interrupts to ask, “How does all of that impact our sales?”

Are You Ready for That Question?

This scenario may have never happened to you, but are you prepared if it does? CEOs tend to speak a different language when it comes to business performance indicators. If you join a meeting with a CEO and their direct reports, you’ll hear everyone around the table discussing revenue, profit, margins, operating costs, leads, opportunities, and updates on targeted accounts.

Can you, as a social media marketer, speak the same language?

The Elephant in the Room

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. CEOs are not fluent in social media. In a review of Fortune 500 CEOs, only 39% were active on social networks, and none were active on all six major networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube).

It’s important to note that “active” is defined very loosely, as few CEOs post regularly. While these numbers certainly change when you look outside the Fortune 500 list, the principal remains true. CEOs need the right data that enables them to make decisions quickly to impact the big picture of their business.

One of the root problems is that engagement data, followers, and social conversations do not translate to a CEO’s business paradigm. While these metrics may be insightful, they fall short of the weight that top– and bottom-line revenue and profit figures have in a CEO’s mind. In other words, we need to close the loop from conversation to conversion.

What Holds Us Back

So, what holds us back from closing the loop and speaking the language of a CEO? We have too readily accepted the data that social networks innately provide. Instead of demanding information that is most valuable to us, we took what they offered and attempted to insert the value into it.

Beyond Engagement: Why Brands Must Use Outcomes to Prove, and Improve, Social Success


What if Facebook, when initially building their native Analytics platform, asked marketers what they valued most? Each network’s advertising platform may give us insight into that question. The ad platforms are built with marketers in mind and provide conversion data, website activity tracking, and more. This is a great start, but we need to speak to the impact on business of social media’s full landscape.

But There’s More

We face another problem when telling the whole story of social media in that traditional social media metrics cover only a fraction of user activity. Dark Social, or the sharing of content on private channels like messaging apps and email, makes up 84% of all social sharing, according to a 2016 study by RadiumOne.

This means that only 16% of content is shared and measurable via public social networks publicly.

With this much activity happening beyond our sight, how can we accurately speak to the impact of social media?

Back to Business

First, we need to be able to frame our discussion of social media’s impact in terms that relate back to the rest of the business.

Since social media is a function of marketing, it makes sense to speak the same language as your CMO and the rest of the marketing team. I generally look at social media measurement in terms of brand and demand. This means that everything related to social media should point back to one of those two objectives. Each one also has its own preferred collection of metrics.

In fact, Uri Bar-Joseph, VP of Marketing at Simply Measured, spoke on this exact topic at LIFT Social 2016 in his session called “The Blueprint for Social Success.” Look at the chart below for a visual breakdown of this concept from his perspective.

We can use this as our framework for the value of social media, especially in the context of CEO-level conversations. However, the biggest area of opportunity for social marketers is on the “demand” side, where we measure conversions and ultimately attribute social media activity to sales figures. How do we address the disconnect in that part of the equation?

This is typically where the conversation moves to social media’s return on investment. Proving the ROI of social media has historically been a hot topic among marketers, ever since we started seeing dedicated social media roles at companies. However, study after study reveals that measuring social media ROI continues to be the top priority for social media marketers. In fact, roughly 60% of marketers say they cannot measure the ROI of social media.

Ultimately, ROI may be an incomplete perspective when it comes to speaking to a CEO. This is where attribution analytics shine. Attribution of social media efforts to revenue, leads, and other key sales activities is how we begin communicating on the same page.

“Other channels talk in dollars and cents. So should social.”

Brewster Stanislaw, Director of Product at Simply Measured

Imagine speaking to your CEO and being able to attribute revenue to every single social media post, organic and paid. Done properly, you can view a dashboard of revenue generated over any given period for all your social marketing efforts. This isn’t a hypothetical scenario. What I once painstakingly produced–albeit with sometimes great limitations–through Google analytics is now accomplished stress-free with platforms like Simply Measured’s Social Attribution.

Now, imagine that same scenario I shared earlier. Except this time, you are armed with revenue attribution figures down to the individual post level. How would you feel about the same conversation with that data?

To learn more, check out this Social Attribution Education Kit from Simply Measured.

Whether you are a social media community manager, specialist, strategist, or VP of social, you all have a role to play in framing the conversation around social media’s impact on the business. Companies move fast, and senior leaders need information they can easily digest. It’s time we stopped standing on the outside of the board room and started speaking the language of the CEO.

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