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Why Social Marketers Need to Understand the Funnel (And How)

Social media continues to evolve, and sophisticated organizations have moved beyond existing on social to measuring progress and optimization techniques. According to a recent Gartner report: 

Marketing leaders recognize that social analytics tools are a critical component of their marketing stack. There is increasing parity in the social analytics market. When selecting vendors, marketing leaders must understand how social data will support marketing as well as the broader organization.

Social media in business started out with the company intern posting on Facebook and Twitter because it was cool, new, and a marketing VP said, “Hey, we should have a Facebook page.” Now, social media is a full-fledged marketing channel that affects every stage of the buyer’s journey, and can have a big impact at every stage of the funnel. Let’s dig in!

Funnel 101

There are two primary functions on any marketing team: brand and demand. Typically, your marketing team is segmented into teams that roll up to these two main outputs.

For example, Lucy, our Head of Marketing Communications, is responsible for everything that has to do with our brand: brand messaging, positioning, awareness, and content. I am a Marketing Campaign Manager, and I am in charge of all things demand: leads, nurture, campaigns, funnel conversion, and how to find people who are interested in our product.

The social media team and content marketing team live under the brand umbrella and focus more on brand awareness. The brand and demand partnership is crucial for any successful marketing team; everyone in marketing needs to understand how their job function impacts the funnel.

Demand BrandThe full funnel encompasses the marketing funnel and sales funnel. Here is an example of the marketing funnel from Moz.


Marketing is responsible for putting together campaigns and promoting them on various channels (including social) and ultimately driving people to the website and converting. For a B2B company, conversion can mean the user filled out a demo form and is routed to the sales team. For B2C, it can mean that the user went to your website and purchased an item.

Each funnel is going to be different based on business type, but the basics are the same. One of the most common methodologies used for the funnel is the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall.


Let’s break this down. The terms and definitions are going to be different and tailored to your business, so meet with someone on your demand generation team or sales team to make sure you know what an inquiry at your company is, and how the whole process fits together.

An inquiry for us is a form fill for a piece of content or demo request. This person then enters the funnel. If he or she meets pre-set marketing qualifications, this person becomes an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), then routes to our sales team, and down the funnel they go.

Marketing’s job is to drive leads into the funnel. We have to drive people to our website and convert them so they enter the funnel. There are many different ways you can get in front of your target person and engage them. Social is more important than ever.

Social Hubspot
Source: Hubspot

How Social Marketers Can Adapt

Inc. 500 executives say social is the #1 channel with potential to impact sales in 2017Since social is a relatively new channel, the possibilities are endless. We as marketers need to rethink how to use social. Social can help engage people and ultimately drive revenue.

Your social programs and campaigns needs to focus on the entire funnel. This metrics matrix breaks down what type of metrics you should look at and optimize for certain parts in the funnel.

Metrics Matrix

Use these metrics to prove the value of your social media programs. Only 9.4% of marketers say they’re able to quantify the revenue driven by social media (State of Social).

If you can start showing how social is influencing content downloads and driving leads into the sales funnel, you will be able to speak in terms of revenue. Once that happens, budget conversations get a whole lot easier.  


What’s in the funnel for social?

  • Downloads
  • Conversions
  • Private sharing
  • New leads
  • Closed deals
  • Revenue
  • Customer advocacy

Very few companies actually push social all the way through the funnel. Social DOES influence the entire funnel, but you might not be set up to capture this data. Where to start?

Step 1: Know what your goals are

Step 2: Get the tools you need to track towards them

Step 3: Look at what people are sharing (especially through digital word of mouth) and how content being shared on social results in web traffic, leads, and revenue

Step 4: Work with your marketing ops and demand gen teams to make sure social is set up properly as a lead source in your MAP and CRM

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Hate to break it to you, but you can’t piecemeal this together with by yourself. You are going to need analytics to help you.

Other channels, like email and paid search, have tools that they use to clearly speak to the funnel impact. Social should have these tools, too. Speak to leads, conversions, and revenue driven from social, just like all other marketing channels.

Want to learn more about full-funnel social analytics? Request a demo today.

Sidney Waterfall

I’m the Head of Demand Generation here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our full-funnel marketing strategy that focuses on driving awareness, generating demand, and promoting customer retention. Out side of work I enjoy golfing, hiking with my dog Riggins, red wine, and watching college football!

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