How To Calculate The Value Of A Like

Over my decade working in web marketing, I've spent a ton of time at various marketing conferences, and I've read countless books and blogs about new media. I've noticed a disturbing trend over the past few years in the social media end of the communications world. Much of the advice and strategy I hear boils down to little more than "unicorns and rainbows" superstitions like "engage in the conversation" and "be awesome." Not only has much of the industry ignored hard metrics and dollars-and-cents ROI math; there has actually been vocal opposition to measurement and accountability.

Effective marketers expect to see clearcut, positive ROI for every other channel of online marketing including email, search, and display advertising. But for some reason, many seem to forget about return when it comes to channels like Facebook and Twitter.

At HubSpot, the inbound marketing software company where I work, we're obsessed with hard data and metrics for every inch of our business. So it seemed like a no-brainer to me that we should understand exactly what the value of each social networking connection is to our bottom line. It was out of that love of numbers that I began work on the value of a like (VOAL) formula.

The VOAL formula ends up looking like this: L (Total Likes): The total number of audience members connected to your social media account. On Facebook, these are Likes of your page, and on Twitter, these are followers.

UpM (Unlikes-per-Month): The average number of fans who "unlike" your social network account each month.  On Facebook, this is an "unlike," and on Twitter, this is an "unfollow."

LpD (Links-per-Day): The average number of times you're posting links, and potentially converting links driven from your social media account. On Facebook, this is the number of posts you're making, per day, that lead to a page on your website. On Twitter, this is the number of times, per day, you're Tweeting these kinds of links.

C (Average Clicks): The average number of clicks on the links to your site you're posting on your social media accounts.

CR (Conversion Rate): The average conversion rate of your website, from visit to sale or visit to lead. This can be an overall average, but for increased accuracy, use the conversion rate measured from traffic coming from the social network you're calculating.

ACV (Average Conversion Value):
The average value of each "conversion." In this context, a "conversion" is the action you've used to measure CR for. It could be average sale price or average lead value. For increased accuracy, use the average conversion value of traffic coming from the specific social network.

It is relatively easy for any marketer with decent analytics software (like Google Analytics or HubSpot's Marketing Analytics) to track the traffic from social networks and assign lead or customer acquisition values. It becomes more difficult when we want to understand how much time or money we should feel comfortable spending to build our reach.

The first part of the formula uses UpM and L to calculate a churn rate for your social media following. This will allow you to derive the average length of time an individual user will be subscribed to your social network profile.

The rest of the formula calculates the VOAL metric for each follower using the number of links they're exposed to over the length of time they follow your brand and the values from your conversion funnel.

To make this calculation easy for any marketer to do, I've built a calculator tool. Simply enter these six values for your business into, and the math will be done for you. The tool itself offers explanations about how to find the numbers needed. You can also adjust each value up or down to see the impact each metric has on the value of your followers and Likes. 

Nobody likes to be bossed around. Numerous studies, including my own, have shown that a collaborative management style is usually best.

But there’s an important exception. New leaders who are perceived as having low status—because of their age, education, experience, or other factors—face different rules. They get better ratings and results from their teams when they take charge, set the course, and tell subordinates what to do. For those bosses, it pays to be bossy.

This conclusion is based on two experiments. In the first, 68 current and former business school students watched video clips of people portraying team leaders and rated their effectiveness on a scale from one to seven. An inexperienced leader who was just 32 years old and had graduated from a second-tier school got an average rating of 4.25 when he told team members what to do, compared with only 3.55 when he solicited their opinions.

In the second experiment, 216 people, most of them undergraduates, were placed on four-person teams working on a complex computer-based task and were instructed to solve problems with the fewest possible clicks of the mouse. Team leaders played either high- or low-status roles and used either directive or participative styles. Low-status leaders who took a directive approach received higher ratings from their teams in terms of both confidence and effectiveness (their scores on these measures averaged 4.76 and 4.52, respectively) than low-status leaders who took a participative approach (their scores averaged 4.01 and 4.19).  And teams with low-status directive leaders performed better (108 clicks to solve a problem) than those with low-status participative leaders (126 clicks).

If these results seem counterintuitive, imagine this: You’re on an experienced team that gets an unfamiliar leader. You look for clues about his status—How old is he? How does he dress? Where did he train?—and form an assessment accordingly. If he seems to be a lightweight, you’ll probably resist his attempts to influence you. And if he asks for your input, chances are even greater that you’ll view him as lacking in competence. But if he’s directive and assertive, you’ll take that as confidence, and you’ll come to see him as more able than you first thought. His perceived capabilities will rise.

It should come as no surprise that the leaders who were viewed as the most confident and effective—and whose teams performed the best—were the high-status participative leaders. That finding is in line with everything we’ve heard for decades about collaborative management. As long as a leader is viewed as experienced and knowledgeable, team members prefer and perform better under a participative style. High-status leaders who give orders are viewed as less confident and less effective, and the performance of their teams suffers.

New managers should gauge team members’ perceptions. If you sense that you’re viewed as experienced and competent, it’s best to give subordinates a say. But if you sense that you’re seen as a low-status boss, you’re better off setting the agenda, establishing a clear direction, and putting people to work on what you think needs to be done. Only after your status has risen should you introduce a more collaborative style. 

In a study involving fictitious brands of vitamins, energy drinks, and other items, a team led by A. Selin Atalay, of HEC Paris, found that a product got longer looks and was more likely to be chosen when it was in the center of a horizontal array (purchased 44% of the time), rather than at the left (purchased 24% of the time) or the right (purchased 32% of the time).