The Real Cost of Social Media

social media cost

The folks at Focus put out this infographic, sharing actual data on the cost, benefit and return on investment of social media. I appreciate the fact that they approximate the hours spent to manage the medium and even provide a cost to benefit ratio for top brands utilizing social media. Did you know the average monthly value of a Twitter follower is $2.38 while the monthly cost to keep them is $1.67. Not a bad tweturn on investment!

Infographic The Real Cost Of Social Media

Too many people see social media as free. Given the amount of mediums the average marketer has to manage, the limited resources, the ineffectiveness of tools and the segmentation of the market – there is absolutely a cost to social media. That said, there’s also an incredible opportunity to capture market share by engaging prospects and customers via social media – especially when your competition hasn’t!


  1. 1

    Can someone explain the twitter stats please? seems to show investment is more than return – and the monthly costs just the number divided by 10…?!

  2. 2

    Can someone explain the twitter stats please? seems to show investment is more than return – and the monthly costs just the number divided by 10…?!

  3. 3

    Absolutely true that one has to account for the cost of social media as part of the overall marketing mix. My biggest challenge is clients who want to “get on board NOW” with social media, with no regard to its place in overall strategy, or to the fact that it is not a cure-all for a fledgling business to suddenly become successful overnight thanks to a few blog posts!

  4. 4

    Oh Doug… Don’t tell me you don’t see something wrong with this picture…

    First one minor obvious issue: Twitter’s monthly investment/return numbers are transposed when mapping to per follower value/cost. Not sure which is which but considering the size of that section in the infograph, I believe it’s the favorable numbers of return higher than investment that was meant to be displayed. Anyway, I put that one under “typo”.

    The real issue with this picture is correlation vs. causality. The implied conclusion of this graph is that getting people to follow you or become a fan of you causes them to spend more. There is a correlation between spend and fan, but that doesn’t mean there is causality here. “Fans are 28% more likely than non-fans to continue buying your brand”? I don’t think that conclusion requires an infograph. If I put that in more obvious terms, would you say that people that consider themselves Colts fans attend more Colts games and own more Colts jerseys than those that don’t consider themselves as Colts fans? Easy answer with that one, isn’t it? So it is not that your McDonalds Facebook fans are spending more money because they are your Facebook fans. It’s because they are are probably spending a lot of money already and they like you already that they decided to become your Facebook fan. This does not in this current form support the thesis that you are going to make someone spend more on your brand by making them become your Facebook fan or Twitter follower. So I really would not list that section under “Benefits” but simply under a title that reads “Hmm…”.

    Now what would be actually interesting in numbers is if they can show that out of all the Facebook fans you have, how much were they spending annually/monthly/whatever BEFORE they became your fans vs. how much they spent AFTER they became a fan and because of the campaigns you are running on Facebook. That’s the real return on your investment. Of course, that’s near impossible to track.

    I am not saying that social media presence doesn’t have benefits. I’m just saying that poorly prepared numbers as displayed in this infograph doesn’t really help make that case or help someone make the decision to get into social media. If anything the cost numbers would scare people that realize that the benefits displayed in the infograph really don’t show any true benefit to justify the cost.

    *takes off the devil’s advocate hat*

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