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New Research: Social Media ROI is Still a Challenge for 57%

Authors: Danny Brown Danny Brown
Posted Under: Social Media
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State of Social Media Marketing 2012

Social marketing software company Awareness released the second part of its bi-annual State of Social Media Marketing report for 2012, and there are a few surprising key points that brands and marketers should be aware of.

The study surveyed 469 marketers from a variety of industries, expertise and verticals, the report looks at how businesses are using (or not using) social media, the key pain points, and where businesses are heading in 2013.

Some of the key findings include:

  • 44% of companies with social marketing budgets of $100,000 or more are using social CRM software, compared to 16% in general.
  • 68% are interested in expanding their social footprint.
  • 50% see the need to tighten integration between social and more traditional marketing.
  • Social marketing ROI, a larger social presence and reach, and increased content creation and publishing are three areas executives are looking to concentrate on in 2013.

What’s interesting from these points alone is that social is definitely seen as a core strategy for many businesses to take on in the next 12 months and beyond. Yet, clearly, there’s still some ambiguity around social and what it means for the bottom line. The ROI question continues, as does building a strong presence where results can be actionable and measured.

Despite the ambiguity, the good news is that when you look at the top business objectives for social media, it’s clear that the customer experience is key (click to expand):

Top business objectives in social media

Seeing two of the top three objectives geared towards the customer is encouraging – it would seem that brands are finally realizing the amplification social offers consumers, so they’d better improve and tailor the experience while continuing to foster the initial touch-point.

So what else does the Awareness report tell us?

Social Marketing Challenges

It’s sad to say, but integrating social media continues to be a challenge for many businesses in 2012, despite many seeing the tipping point of social media as 2010, when the ROI question and the business benefits of social media were really taken into the mainstream.

So what are the challenges that businesses continue to face when it comes to social media?

Top social media marketing challenges

While the lead challenge is still measuring ROI, what’s interesting is the percentage that are struggling to integrate with the rest of the marketing vertical, which accounts for almost 1/3 of businesses surveyed. This is a clear indication that businesses are finally starting to realize that social isn’t a standalone strategy, but a core part of the bigger marketing picture. While it may be a struggle at the moment, the recognition that it needs to be integrated bodes well for the future of these businesses.

Social Media ROI

Knowing how successful a marketing campaign is – whether it’s external or internal – is key to understanding where businesses needs to grow and improve, and where it’s already doing a good job.

When it comes to social media, measurement is just as important – and brands are definitely keeping score when it comes to knowing how well their business is doing in social media:

Top social media measurements for brand effectiveness

What’s interesting about this particular section of the report is that almost every single respondent chose number of fans and followers as the #1 barometer of social media success.

This, despite the fact that fans and followers can be bought for as little as $5 for 10,100 Twitter “followers”. While it’s great to have a large following, it’s how engaged and involved with your brand that really matters. Numbers mean squat unless they add to your business overall.

Social influence is truly becoming a mainstay of the business landscape when it comes to social media, with almost 2/3 of businesses looking to increase their influence in the space. As Kred, Klout and others look to grab this slice of the action, expect that number to rise in 2013.

The Future of Social Media

As you can see, there are still some major challenges in the adoption of social media when it comes to businesses, regardless of size and resources. The social CRM issue continues to be one that’s lacking in uptake, with only 16% of businesses currently using a social CRM system. While 21% are planning to, 17% don’t know what a social CRM system is and why businesses need it.

Aside from all of the issues we reviewed above, it’s perhaps this last stat that’s the most concerning since without a CRM platform in place, how do you expect to truly measure activity and results, and allocate the right resources and team members, to ensure the customer experience is everything it can be?

There’s no doubt that social media is here to stay. Consumers continue to be the driving force behind its growth and businesses are clearly realizing they need to catch up.

The State of Social Media Marketing report offers hope that they’re doing just that.

To download the full State of Social Media Marketing 2012 report, click here.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Danny Brown’s blog on September 11, 2012.

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