Facebook "likes," Twitter re-tweets and @mentions, Reddit upvotes, Ycombinator news "ups," Diggs... these are the magical social media goodies that anyone engaged in social media promotional campaigns desperately seeks.
But, like most magical items, they're usually as intangible as fairy dust. Hence Dan Zarella, a super-smart scientist at HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company, has tried to apply a little bit of rigorous thinking to the problem. By messing with mathematics, HubSpot's calculated the "Value Of A Like" (VOAL) formula to work out how much a social media "like" (or equivalent, such as a new Twitter follower) is worth in actual dollars on your bottom line.
It looks like this: VOAL (in $ per Like) = L/UpM (LpD 30) (C/L) CR ACV
Don't panic. Even if your math expertise has withered to the equivalent of that of a bright 5-year-old since you left school, this equation is actually pretty easy. All of these terms express qualities like "Links per Day" or "Unlikes per Month," and they're arranged in way that the various ratios affect each other sensibly. For example, the "unlikes per month" figure takes importance away from the "likes" figure. Any social media manager with access to this data can even go to a special site Zarella's set up where they can tap in these figures and have the math done for you.
What's this figure for? Not much really. It's just another metric you may be able to use to work out how much effort you need to go to to get a "like," and this may affect how you think about social media pushes. And what the VOAL calculation really reminds us is that social media marketing and analytics is very much in its infancy—and understanding which levers to pull to affect the success of a social media campaign is more of an art than a science.
But as Zarella points out on his VOAL calculator page, social media marketing really should rely on some science rather than luck. That means you need to really think about what you're doing, and measure the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. And as we've reminded you recently, "There's Meaning in Numbers: Data Is the New Common Language."
[Image: Flickr user lostprophet]