Interesting Harvard Business Review article. It talks about a recent influential study by comScore and Facebook, along with findings from HBR experiments.
The Results Were Clear
Social media doesn't work the way many marketers think it does. There mere act of endorsing a brand does not affect a customer's behavior or lead to increased purchasing, nor does it spur purchasing by friends.
As social media has grown as a marketing channel, so too has enthusiasm for its potential to drive sales. Yet a recent survey of 427 marketers at U.S. companies showed that 80% are unable to quantify the value of their social media efforts. And in a study of Fortune 500 companies, 87% of CMOs acknowledged that they can’t document that social media creates new customers. Our research helps explain why marketers are frustrated by social media—they are using it the wrong way. Amplifying efforts with advertising can provide higher returns on investment while creating an opportunity to connect with the most-loyal customers.