Much of marketing has historically focused on the business-to-person relationship. A business delivers a direct message to an individual, and the individual hopefully responds in kind by becoming a customer. Social media has turned this paradigm on its head. Businesses now have the opportunity to initiate and encourage person-to-person relationships that, if properly leveraged, can become a highly effective form of marketing.

Person-to-person marketing is valuable because it is a third-party validation of your brand and your product. Think about what happens when your friend or someone you follow on social media starts talking about a product: You’re more likely to pay attention and to accept that information as accurate, and you aren’t as likely to perceive it as a promotion. This concept is known as “earned media value.” And the best part is that it costs substantially less than taking out radio ads, leasing a billboard, or purchasing Google AdWords.

You might be thinking: This sounds great, but how can I really know whether someone is really talking about my brand and spreading the word? How can I know the value in dollars of all of my social media chatter? The short answer is that you must think differently about earned media value. This earned value is much more complicated than traditional paid media value. For starters, you must learn to track your business’s social media shares, retweets, comments, likes, and favorites – indeed, this is the stuff social media is made of, and it doesn’t necessarily fit neatly onto an accounting ledger.

Here are the most important things to understand about earned media value:

  1. Think of it as brand building not directly linked to sales.
    It’s true that you can track the customer who clicks your company’s web link from Facebook and buys a product. But what happens when the customer clicks the link and doesn’t buy or, better yet, visits your website later without going back to Facebook and makes the purchase? Or what happens when they visit your physical storefront to buy the product? There is no direct way to track these paths, and that’s why it’s important not to directly link this value to sales.
  2. Use it to provide marketplace insight.
    Social media metrics offer data that go beyond simple revenue-per-customer figures. With social media, you can measure your company’s audience reach, track the level of audience engagement, and gauge their preferences and interests. These are incredibly powerful tools. If you know how people are talking about your brand, you can more effectively tailor your content and product lineup to what your customers want. A recent study by Wishpond found that two-thirds of businesses that tracked their social media analytics for at least a year felt social media provided insight into their specific market.
  3. Leverage it to position your business as a thought leader.
    When you invest in social media, you’re building a community and a brand. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to position your business and your employees as thought leaders in your niche market. You want to create informative, engaging, non-marketing content on social media that your audience is interested in reading and that they will share with others. When this happens, the value you bring to your business multiplies exponentially.

While the value of social media can’t be tracked directly back to sales, you can benefit greatly from earned media value. By realizing the brand building, marketplace research, and thought leadership capabilities of it, you can be generating positive buzz—and a positive ROI—for your business.

To ensure you are properly measuring and taking advantage of your company’s earned media value from social media you need to be able to manage it. EveryoneSocial is the leading employee advocacy platform that provides you with everything you need to measure the earned value social media is providing your company. Please schedule a demo with us. We’d love to show you how our platform can fit your social media and employee advocacy needs.