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According to a new study, social media campaigns are achieving higher reach numbers than ad exchanges, networks, and other online marketing channels. But this study could be misleading. Reach doesn’t equate to conversions.

Online marketers have to answer this question: If you reach more users or potential users than you did before and achieve the same number of conversions, are you better off?

What if your conversions go down with a higher reach, what then?

The thing you have to remember about reach is, it doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue. However, you may still get a little branding benefit out of it. That is a benefit, assuming that the folks you reach are targeted consumers. If they are people interested in your type of product or service and are in the market for it, then reaching them can be a benefit if they don’t buy from you today.

I’m not knocking reach, but it’s one metric. It’s not THE metric. Any marketing that doesn’t lead, directly or indirectly, to higher revenues should be scrutinized more heavily.

That said, Facebook and other social networks seem to be growing in effectiveness as more people flock to those networks to hang out with their friends. But does that mean you should be marketing to your audience on their Facebook walls? That’s another question.

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