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Social Amplification is the access to a secondary audience that you have via your direct audience. A secondary audience is similar to second cousins—they are the people who follow the people who follow you. Just as news travels from family members to more distant family members, the impacts of social media marketing travels down the line from follower to follower.

Let’s take twitter for example. Say you have 1,000 followers on twitter and that, on average, each of those followers have 100 unique followers. In this case, your secondary audience would not be 1,000 people, but rather 100,000 people. That being said, your messages will not reach everyone in this secondary audience. The secondary audience is comprised of people who could potentially see your content. Whether they actually see it depends on whether or not your direct audience shares your content. In twitter, this means that if your follower retweets your content, this content now reaches all of their followers.

So how does this factor into Social ROI? Well, the social amplification effect is more or less free marketing. When businesses calculate return on investment, the immediate concern is whether or not the lead became a paying customer. What is often left out of the equation, however, is that a lead could draw other leads. Even if your original lead does not make a purchase decision, the lead could have passed on information about your product to others, who upon learning about your product did make a purchase.

So even though you did not directly recruit this end customer, they still learned about your product via a social media marketing campaign. Lesson learned? Don’t underestimate the social amplification that marketing via social media can give you. You’re having a bigger effect than you realize.