This Deck Shows Whether The Billions Pouring Into LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter Are Worth It

state of social media 2012Budweiser is one of Facebook’s biggest clients.

Photo: Anheuser-Busch InBev / Facebook

Social media is already huge, but how much money is being invested in it by advertisers, and are they seeing a return?We kicked off our big New York conference on Social Media ROI last week with this dive into the total universe of social media adspending. It covers the biggest ad spenders in social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others — and discusses the results those advertisers have seen.

Enjoy: The State of Social Media 2012.

Here we go!

Let's look at the total size of the social media universe ...

... the money being invested in it by marketers ...

... and who they're trying to reach. Note that Facebook is the billion-user elephant in the room.

Sources: Facebook/SEC; Twitter/MediaBistro; Windows Live Messenger/Ars Technica; Google+/EndGadget; LinkedIn/SEC; Pinterest/AppData; Instagram/TheNextWeb; FourSquare.

Facebook's user base is still growing, even though growth has slowed.

Source: SEC

But there's another billion users in China using brands that are unknown in the West.

Sources: CNET and Bloomberg.

The obvious question:

Here's how much time we spend looking at social media.

From Nielsen.

And here's how much revenue Facebook gets from that.

Source: Facebook's SEC disclosures.

Only $5!

(Counterintuitive pivot coming right up ...)

One way to interpret this data is to note that when Facebook and Google serve ads, they have at least some targeting data on who is sitting in front of the screen, either from cookies, keyword requests or demographics. TV advertisers don't really know who's watching—so a lot of that $12 is traditional media waste.

Source: SEC disclosures / BI's estimates.

The shopping priorities of social media users are music, shoes, and then sex. (Speculate amongst yourselves as to why they're in that order.)

Source: Nielsen

More than a $1 billion in ads is spent targeting social media users every quarter.

Sources: Facebook/SEC; LinkedIn/SEC; Twitter/EMarketer; Pinterest/WSJ; Google (there are no ads on Google+); FourSquare/BI.

It adds up to about $4.5 billion a year, and the number's growing. Note that social media is already bigger than mobile media, even though mobile is an older platform. (Facebook didn't exist prior to 2004.)

Sources: IAB; EMarketer

$14 out of every $100 spent online end up in social media.

At Facebook, where the vast majority of dollars go, adspend has gone from a negligible amount in 2006 to nearly $4 billion annually.

Source: SEC

These are the biggest advertisers. (See the link below if you want more detail on the 30 biggest advertisers, and their campaign strategies.)

But has any of this huge incoming value been transferred to the clients whose dollars created it?


Let's look at LinkedIn first. Aside from its subscription revenue, most of those revenues would have been in newspapers 15 years ago.

Source: Business Insider Intelligence

Some clients, like Accenture, can save big using LinkedIn.

Source: Money

If you want more detail on Facebook's 30 biggest clients, see the link below.

Facebook has given only anecdotal evidence about ROI for its advertisers. Note that EA is one of its biggest clients.

Perhaps the most famous example of ROI is when P&G announced that it would cut its ad budgets because it could use free impressions in social media.

Source: BI; NYT

Users' news feeds are so crowded that posts quickly fall to the bottom, where they might not be seen. So companies have to pay Facebook for ads or promoted posts if they want to reach 100% of their fanbase.

Source: BI

That's why Facebook started FBX: To give advertisers another way to reach those users. The RTB business is estimated to grow to $5 billion in total in years to come.

What about Twitter and Pinterest?

This jewelry site says Pinterest users can be incredibly valuable. How does that compare to Twitter?

Source: Forbes

Zappos wanted to find out. So it did an experiment in which it created a custom Pinterest site on which users could pin their Zappos' purchases so others could see them.

But Zappos made more sales per post on Twitter.

Source: Bloomberg

Generally, however, Pinterest users spend more per user when they do show up.

Source: VentureBeat

But here's the bottom line: In e-commerce, it's still email and search that does the heavy lifting. Social has a ways to grow.

Source: Monetate

Peace out!

Now let's look at the companies spending the most in social ...

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