Social Media Excites Marketers, but Doesn’t Yet Generate Revenue

econsultancy-exciting-digital-opportunities-feb-2012.jpgSocial media engagement is the most exciting digital opportunity for global marketers this year, cited by 54% of company respondents to a survey [download page] released in February 2012 by Econsultancy, in partnership with Adobe. Social media is far ahead of other top 3 opportunities company marketers are passionate about, including mobile optimization (38%), content optimization (37%), conversion rate optimization (31%), brand building/viral marketing (27%), and video marketing (24%).

Social Also a Top Priority

Marketers also indicated social media engagement to be among their top 3 digital-related priorities this year. The area topped the list, cited by 39% of company respondents, on par with the proportion who indicated content optimization to a be a top priority. Other areas marketers will be focusing on this year include conversion rate optimization (34%), brand building/viral marketing (32%), and mobile optimization (29%). And although content marketing (29%) matches mobile optimization as a priority, it is far less stimulating for marketers: only 18% cited the area as among their top 3 most exciting opportunities this year.

Passion Does Not Revenue Make, Though

econsultancy-social-media-roi.jpgAlthough social media marketing clearly is both a priority and a stimulating topic, marketers paint a less encouraging picture about its effectiveness as a revenue-generating channel. Among company and agency respondents, almost half said that social media has added many more programs and goals, but not the revenue to support new hires, indicating this to be a key challenge. By contrast, just 20% of companies and 13% of agencies said that this was not an issue for them.

Indeed, according to an Awareness survey released in December 2011, few marketers are tying social media marketing initiatives to lead generation (38%) and sales (26%), with a far greater proportion using soft metrics such as social presence (76%), measured by number of followers and fans, and website traffic (67%) to determine the success of their campaigns.

Engagement More Fun Than Analytics

This trend may not be changing soon, at least when looking at the areas marketers want to place their priorities this year. Data from Econsultancy’s “Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: Digital Trends for 2012″ indicates that companies and agencies are placing far more emphasis on social media engagement than social media analytics. For example, when asked about their digital priorities this year, companies were about twice as likely to cite engagement as analytics (39% vs. 19%), while the disparity among agencies was even higher (54% vs. 19%). Similarly, when asked what excited them the most, companies were far more likely to cite social media engagement than social media analytics (54% vs. 27%), as were agencies (47% vs. 27%).

About the Data: The Econsultancy/Adobe results are based on an online survey of more than 600 client-side and agency respondents. 27% are based in North America and about two-thirds are based in Europe. 42% are exclusively focused on B2C, 32% are B2B-focused, and 26% are focused on both B2B and B2C.