The Impact of Social Media on Your Marketing Plan

If you were to assign a value of 100% to all your marketing activity, what portion of that total pie would you give to each  piece of your marketing plan? Specifically, how much importance would you assign to social media?


Let’s assign a value to social media as part of the entire marketing picture by using my 4-Spot Marketing Model. The four essential spots of marketing are:

  1. Branding – Your identity.
  2. Experience – What your customers experience.
  3. Conversation – Unpaid evangelism for your business.
    (This is where social media fits in)
  4. Promotion – How you promote and advertise your business.


Branding is the glue that holds your marketing plan together and the focus of all your marketing. At it’s core, marketing is the advancement of your brand. Without a definable brand, your marketing will be a continuous and frustrating search for the magic tactic that will solve all your problems. And, you’ll waste a ton of money. For that reason, I’m always tempted to apportion a higher importance to branding. But an awesome brand without the other four spots is useless.

Branding Importance = 25%


The customer’s experience with your business is the number one determinant of customer loyalty. It is also the spark that fans the flame of word-of-mouth conversation. If Branding is the starting point and the glue of your marketing plan, Experience certainly seems to be the backbone. For that reason you might want to assign a much higher value to Experience. However, experiences without a brand are aimless, and if customers don’t talk about their experience, what good is it?

Experience Importance = 25%


Usually the fourth spot in my model, but I’m saving Conversation for last so we can grade social media’s importance. I’m always tempted to give promotion a smaller piece of the marketing pie, especially advertising. But promotions can attract publicity from media outlets and stimulate customer conversation. And advertising plays the important role of extending your brand awareness to people who don’t yet know about you. Advertising also plays a major role in sparking word-of-mouth (see my recent word-of-mouth podcast conversation with Ed Keller).

Promotion Importance = 25%


By now, you think you’ve probably figured this out; 25% to social media, right? Hold on there, the social media slice of marketing pie is smaller than that. There are three parts to the Conversation spot:

  1. Person-to-person word of mouth – According to Keller Fay Group, offline conversation accounts for more than 90% of all word of mouth conversations.
  2. Social media interactions – Less than 10% of word of mouth takes place online
  3. PR (public relations/publicity) – Plays an occasional and sporadic role in Conversation, but can cause big, brief bursts of word of mouth.

Total Conversation Importance = 25%

So, now the question is: How much of that 25% goes to social media? I’ll be a little generous here and give it the entire 10% that doesn’t happen offline. That’s 10% of 25%. That means…

Social Media Importance = 2.5%

Yep, 2.5% of your entire marketing plan is dependent on social media. In certain cases, social media can have tremendous impact. Just a few weeks ago we saw how Facebook helped launch a small business. These cases are uncommon, and not usually durable.

Are you surprised at the 2.5% figure? How much of your time are you investing in your social media program?

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