Social media has emerged as the next frontier for many digital marketers. Brands and agencies alike spend millions of dollars across various social networks to make sure their message is seen and heard. But is it worth it? Determining the value of a social campaign can be challenging. People visit Facebook, Twitter and the like to engage and communicate, not necessarily to make a purchase. So what are some of the more effective ways for a brand to reach their customer base on social channels?

The Infographic above demonstrates how targeted and dedicated social marketing campaigns can influence users in any stage of the purchase cycle. Many social networks offer brands the ability to post organic and paid communications that, depending on objective, acquire and introduce new users to a brand’s online community, either within the social experience or the brand website or blog. These users are then free to engage with the brand as they see fit, asking questions, inquiring about products or services, participating in promotions or contests and making purchases.

Once active within a brand’s social community, marketers can promote a faster path to purchase through targeted paid advertisements bringing users straight from social media to a brand’s product or “buy now” page, effectively converting these newly acquired users to customers. Continuing to drive the conversations between brands and customers post-purchase will also help transition these new customers into brand advocates, who help proliferate the brand message through the social ether. Via analytics tools like Google Analytics or Radian 6, as well as proprietary tools within each platform, brands are able to track this user activity and attribute sales / transactions to specific marketing objectives.

Social media is only one channel brands employ to acquire and convert new users. Email, direct, organic and paid search are all viable marketing tools that have the ability to attract consumers and drive sales. That being said, how can a brand retain the customers they’ve worked so hard to acquire? How can they turn their buyers into repeat customers?

Social media has the ability to integrate with existing brand customer lists, email / CRM lists, etc. and target these “custom audiences” on the social platforms with focused messaging. These audiences can be served a variety of messages (depending on objective) that aim to keep users within the brand’s sphere of influence on social media. Taking it one step further, Facebook offers marketers the option to target “Lookalike” audiences. These audiences are similar in size and scale to your custom audiences, allowing for even deeper exposure and influence throughout the social network.

For more information on social media and its influence on the purchase cycle, click HERE.