Search engine marketers tying in social advertising campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube want to determine how intent signals in likes, shares and retweets influence a purchase online or in stores. After all, eMarketer estimates that social revenue will hit $6.6 billion in the U.S. this year. Investments need to support returns.
In an effort to better understand how social media channels contribute to an advertiser's effort, a new study from AOL Platforms released Thursday analyzes data found in 500 million clicks and 15 million conversions during the first quarter of 2014, analyzing whether ads on social Web sites work.
The study tracks interactions between consumers and their social purchase through Convertro's attribution technology. The insights show how social campaigns compare with email, search, display, and affiliate marketing. It also looks at how paid social advertising performance varies by social network, and how to balance organic and paid social efforts for specific product categories.
The Aol Platforms study shows YouTube comes in strongest at both introducing new products and helping to close sales. Facebook follows at the No. 2 platform for introductions and purchases, with Google+ following at No.3.
YouTube was the last touchpoint in the customer path 14% of the time -- mainly responsible for a purchase another 14% of the time. In comparison, Twitter was the last touchpoint in the customer path 4% of the time, and was responsible for a purchase about 1% of the time.
It turns out that on Twitter, paid tweets are 30 times more likely to lead to a direct purchase with no other interaction or research on behalf of the consumer, and more than five times more likely to result in the introduction of a product to a new customer. Promoting tweets also helps in the last-phase buying cycle, increasing the chance of conversion by three times.
The data also shows an interesting trend for operators of social sites. While organic social advertising is usually a middle touchpoint that marketers can use to keep consumers engaged to accelerate conversion, paid social advertising works to gain new customers. You can access the report here.