Most Companies Say Social Media’s Impact Tough to Measure

econsultancy-measuring-social-media-impact-sept2012.pngWhile roughly three-quarters of companies agree that measuring the impact of social media activity is very important, more than 7 in 10 also agree that measuring the impact of social media marketing is very difficult. Indeed, just over one-third of companies report having clear objectives for their social media activity, and only a minority measure performance against social media objectives, according to [download page] a September 2012 report from Econsultancy, produced in partnership with Adobe.

Although larger companies (annual revenue more than $150 million) are more likely than smaller companies (revenue of less than $150 million) to measure performance against social media objectives (42% vs. 28%), they are not much more likely to have clear objectives for their social media activity (38% v. 35%).

Traffic, Engagement Most Favored KPIs

The majority of companies measure volume of traffic from social media channels (79% of client-side respondents, 78% of agency respondents) and engagement with social networks (68% of clients; 71% of agencies), but they are far less likely to measure hard metrics like increase in sales/leads (26% clients; 38% agencies) or reduction in customer service calls (7% clients; 17% agencies).

For key performance indicators (KPIs) regarding search engine rankings and brand sentiment, agencies are more likely to say their clients keep tabs than client-side respondents. 38% of agencies said their clients measure improvement in search rankings related to social media activity, compared to 31% of clients. Similarly 37% of agencies say their clients measure brand sentiment related to social media activity, versus 26% of clients.

Social Media Activity Not Being Directly Tied To Revenue

When asked how they relate social media metrics to revenue, 44% of smaller companies and 45% of larger companies responded that the question was not relevant.

Larger businesses are more likely than their smaller counterparts to track revenue generated directly by social media activity (34% vs. 25%) and to measure where social media activity has assisted in generating revenue (23% vs 17%), although these companies are still in the minority. Even though companies are having trouble directly tying revenue to social media, many believe that their social media marketing efforts are having a positive impact on sales: according to a Bazaarvoice survey of 100 members of The CMO Club, roughly 3 in 4 are at least somewhat confident that their social efforts are having a measurable impact on sales.

Even so, the Econsultancy figures indicate a loose connection by marketers between social media and marketing strategies, and an August 2012 survey by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business observes the same. According to that survey, although CMOs expect to increase their spending on social media, they admit that the channel remains poorly integrated with their companies’ overall marketing strategies. Just 1 in 5 respondents rated their social media integration a top-2 box score on a 7-point scale of integration (where 7 indicates very integrated). By comparison, 16.7% said social media was not at all integrated, with a rating of 1, and a further 13.3% scored their integration a 2.

Overall, respondents gave the effectiveness of their social media integration a mean score of 3.8, unchanged from February 2012 and February 2011. Current mean integration levels were highest among B2C product and service companies (both at 4.3).

1 in 5 Companies Measure Just Traffic And Clicks

Details from Econsultancy’s “Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: Managing and Measuring Social” indicate that 20% of company respondents admit that their social measurement capability is almost none, beyond basic traffic and clicks, and 12% of agencies report the same for their clients. 57% of company respondents say that the deepest level of social impact they can track is engagement (such as number of followers, comments, and time spent), and 60% of agencies agree.

About The Data: The 6th Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing is based on an online survey of more than 650 client-side and agency respondents, carried out in August 2012. Econsultancy and Adobe promoted the survey to their respective databases of marketers. 57% of respondents are based in the UK, 32% in the US or Canada, and the remainder in other regions.