In their 2016 Digital Index Report, Adobe studied the increasingly popular issue of quantifying the exact value your social media brings to your business.

You may or may not be surprised to learn they discovered that most business owners and marketers are using all the wrong tools to track and prove social ROI.

The Findings

Of the 225 companies surveyed, Adobe found most only used last-click attribution data – which is what most analytical tools (including Google Analytics) employ as the barometer that measures the value of social media.

The problem with measurement based on last-touch attribution is that your conversions are being measured on the most recent channel that converted a visitor into a contact. Using last-touch attribution as the barometer for your business’s social media success is a lot like crediting your last date for an engagement instead of giving most of the credit to the very first date.

The Value of Social Media

Social media helps to engage people at the top of the funnel, where they are looking for more information and need to be marketed to and converted. Compared to your website, the role of social media is much smaller when the potential buyer is at the bottom of the funnel.

But once you gain that new customer, social becomes a big part of keeping them delighted and engaged with the right content. If you bridge a genuine connection with your customers, treat them properly and consistently provide valuable content, they’ll be happy to share you and your content with their network.

Consider this: When was the last time you bought something immediately after clicking on a Facebook or Twitter link? Be honest.

Most of the time, the process is more involved. You might discover a company through social media, follow up with some quick research, and from there decide your next course of action.

Now that you understand the high-level picture of how social media works to help bring in future customers, what should you be tracking to get a better understanding of the role it plays in your business? How do you measure it?

Does Social Media Attract New Customers?

As the Adobe report suggests, the best way to determine the answer to this question is getting your hands on first-touch analytics.

If you’d like to understand better how social media affects your business, check out our easy guide to marketing metrics. As a bonus, you can use the given formulas prove the ROI of your marketing efforts to your boss.