Nearly nine in 10 US marketers are using social media marketing. It is clear they consider it a necessity for doing business. But there is still a sense of unease about what works and doesn’t work as well as how best to manage the effort, according to a new eMarketer report, “Social Marketing Update: Eight Trends to Help Prepare for 2015.”
For as long as social media marketing has been around, marketers have struggled with how to determine return on investment (ROI). Despite a multitude of available metrics, the question still tops the list of challenges marketers face with social media.
In a June 2014 study of marketers’ usage and attitudes toward digital marketing conducted by Gigaom and Extole, more marketers said they would increase spending on social media marketing than on any other type of marketing. At the same time, 52% said it was difficult to prove ROI. That led the researchers to conclude that “marketers may be buying on faith with social.”
That is a dangerous position to be in as social platforms proliferate and the avenues for reaching consumers grow exponentially.
The solution to the problem is to focus on internal metrics and measures of success, rather than external metrics.
Here’s what industry execs who spoke with eMarketer had to say about measuring social ROI:
Raise the sophistication level. “The stats that are available in social platform analytics tools are great, and they’re really useful for optimizing campaigns, but that’s a long way from demonstrating business value. We as an industry have to be more sophisticated in the way that we understand our clients’ business objectives, apply them to the social space and develop metrics that tell something useful.”—Marshall Manson, Ogilvy & Mather
Learn how to value an earned impression. “There are media-mix models that say a paid impression is worth ‘x’ and [that marketers should] move the needle this way. What about an earned impression? There’s a huge gaping hole in the industry in that the media-mix measurement companies have not advanced nearly enough in incorporating earned media into their models. If you don’t value earned impressions, guess what? It’s going to incentivize an overweighting in paid media.”—Bryan Wiener, 360i
Get input from multiple stakeholders. “It requires a lot of collaboration with your clients and their research departments, their analytics departments and their sales teams to determine what certain behaviors and activities are worth. If you’re an automotive brand, what is a test drive worth? Or what is it worth when someone visits your website and finds the phone number to a dealership? I think we’re finally starting to see these attribution models mature.”—Joe McCaffrey, Huge