The importance of social activation and going beyond last-click attribution


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Superficial Social Metrics: The Social Marketing Trap

We’ve all fallen into the social marketing trap at one point or another. Pouring energy into growing a social presence and posting the polls, pictures, and videos to entice fans into ‘Liking’ and retweeting our posts.  Then, when we’ve reached our desired social following size, the rest of the team asks the inevitable questions – how do these numbers help the company? How does a large social presence drive the bottom line? What was our ROI on this campaign? This is where most social media marketers flounder. 

Image 1: Social marketers are starting to look beyond the ‘Likes’ they relied on in 2011

On the plus side, we have the confidence of influential analysts firms, including Gartner, who predicts that 50% of all web sales will come via social and mobile by 2015. We also have recent studies finding benefits like a 24% increase in overall sales among companies who include Facebook in their media planning. The question, then, is how do we achieve and measure value in social? The answer is not by measuring ‘Likes’ or last-click attribution, but rather social activation and careful measurement of each activation step.

Proven Social ROI via Social Activation

By placing an engaging social experience at the core of its business, receives 25% of its total website traffic from social, and attributes up to a third of its sales to social media. Moreover, 50% of new customers now come from social, and socially activated customers have doubled the lifetime value.

As a second example, TripAdvisor’s VP of Global Product, Adam Medros, claims that Facebook-connected users are twice as engaged on TripAdvisor. For a site that relies predominantly on user engagement and content, attracting and retaining socially engaged customers represents an important part of their overall success, and TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer has emphasized the role of Facebook in building the TripAdvisor brand and user base.

Social Activation Explained

What led to success for and TripAdsvisor was not a simple last-click attribution, which is often seen as the standard for online revenue generation, but rather a holistic view of social value that includes brand awareness, user engagement, and a multiple touch-point approach to tie social’s effect into moving overall sales.

Social activation plays a central role because social media, and Facebook in particular, attracts brand fans interested in engaging with valuable brand content. Either individual to individual, or company to individual, social success can only occur with engaging, valuable content that draws a user to interact with that content.

In fact, the two biggest mistakes digital marketers make when it comes to measuring social are relying primarily on the “new” social metrics like ‘Likes’ and follows, or the “old” search advertising metric of last-click attribution – a collaborative Facebook/Datalogix study found that campaigns focused on maximizing reach saw a 70% higher ROI than those focused on clicks. But to truly succeed in social, I challenge you to go beyond reach, clicks, and ‘Likes’ as goals, and instead focus on achieving and measuring the social activation of your customers, which includes everything from Discovery, to Interactions, to Transactions, to Endorsements (learn more about the DITE framework here). Using DITE, you can improve all aspects of marketing, and ultimately, sales, while measuring each step.  

Image 2: Use social to activate consumers at each touch point in the buying process

To learn more about companies using (and measuring) social right, download our latest white paper, Top Social Engagement Lessons from JetBlue, Zappos,, and Kirkland’s, then embark on your own social activation journey.

Have you seen benefits from your social media marketing, and if so, how do you quantify them? Do you have a framework for looking at the whole picture? Let’s continue the conversation below or on Twitter.


Marcus Whitney
Marcus Whitney is the CTO and Co-Founder of Moontoast, an innovative social rich media advertising solutions leader that delivers premium rich media experiences and social advertising ROI. Gartner Research has named Moontoast a "Cool Vendor" in Music and eCommerce. Prior to launching Moontoast, Mr. Whitney served as a partner and Director of Technology at Emma (, a unique email marketing company. He and his team built Emma's email marketing platform from the ground up, enabling Emma to become a multi-million dollar business.


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