By far the biggest challenge for social media marketers is measuring ROI, according to a new Simply Measured report [download page], with the many also struggling to tie social to business goals. Faced with an inability to quantify revenues driven by social, few are using revenue and conversion metrics as their standards.
In its latest annual “The State of Social Marketing” report, Simply Measured surveyed more than 2,700 social media marketing professionals across the globe with a variety of job titles and from a mix of company sizes (though a bare majority were from companies with up to 50 employees).
Respondents were asked which of 4 types of metrics they use most often to measure the success of social media.
Some 58% reported that they use engagement metrics (such as likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc) as their standard of success. The use of this as a typical metric varied little between brand and agency professionals.
By comparison, few prioritize conversion and revenue metrics such as web traffic, goal conversions and revenue. Only about 1 in 5 (21%) identified these as their standard, with agency respondents (24%) leaning more towards these than brands (20%).
It may be that marketers are using the metrics where they can report the most success: a recent study from Social Media Examiner found that while 88% report increased exposure from their social media marketing efforts, fewer have translated those efforts into improved sales (52%).
The ROI Challenge Persists
Easily the biggest challenge again this year for social marketers is measuring ROI, reported by 59% of respondents.
In fact, only 1 in 5 CMOs in the US say they’re able to quantitatively prove the impact of social media on their business, according to The CMO Survey.
A corollary to that is the difficulty in tying social to business goals – reported by roughly one-third of respondents.
Overall, only 15% of respondents said they’re able to quantify the revenue driven by social, though another 49% said they’re “somewhat” able to do so.
Luckily for the brand marketers surveyed, they’re not pressed on the issue too often. Slightly more than one-third (36%) said they frequently have conversations about social ROI with their boss, while for the remainder those conversations occur either seldomly (45%) or never (19%).
Agencies report on this more often, though: almost half (49%) frequently talk to their bosses about ROI.
Tellingly, aligning social strategy with business objectives is the top focus area for agencies this year, while it’s second to social content development for brands.
Paid Advertising Highlights
Other results from the report indicate that:
- Some 45% of social media marketers – including 59% of agency respondents – feel that paid advertising is very important to their overall social strategy;
- Facebook is easily the top platform for advertising dollars, followed distantly by Instagram;
- Sponsored Ads are considered the most useful paid ads for social media strategies, followed by display ads; and
- Only 41% have conversion goals for social media.