Social marketing software company Awareness has just released the second part of its bi-annual State of Social Media Marketing report for 2012, and it makes for some pretty interesting reading.

Surveying 469 marketers from a variety of industries, expertise and verticals, the report looks at how businesses are using social media (or not), 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 – the ROI question continues, as does building a strong presence where results can be actionable and measured.

The good news is, despite the ambiguity, 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 Media is Still a Challenge

It’s sad to say, but social media continues to be a challenge for many businesses in 2012. This, 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 that of ROI, what’s interesting is the percentage that are struggling to integrate with the rest of the marketing vertical.

This accounts for almost a third, and 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’s a struggle at the minute, the recognition it needs to be integrated bodes well for the future of these businesses.

Social Media and Measurement

For any business, knowing how successful a campaign is – whether that’s external or internal – is key to understanding where that business needs to grow and improve, and where it’s already doing a good job.

When it comes to social media, measurement is just as key – and brands are definitely keeping score when it comes to how effective their business is on 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 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.

Social Media and Revenue

Perhaps one of the biggest questions around social media is that of revenue and lead generation. With ROI still being the leading business question around social media channels and campaigns, it’s no surprise that revenue is a core part of the equation.

What is surprising are two of the answers to the revenue question:

Social media and revenue

While the top three responses make perfect sense, the next two are a little worrying. If, as a marketer, you don’t know where your customers are online, you’re immediately at a disadvantage to your competitors who’re actively profiling their customers.

Even more concerning, perhaps, is the percentage that uses social media when it comes to the lifetime value of a customer. To these businesses, there’s a simple question in return: if you’re not using the simplest way to track a customer’s satisfaction, what exactly are you using?

By knowing your customer’s social footprint and combining that with monitoring and profiling, you can get an untainted and unbiased overview of what they think about you, your brand, your product and/or your service.

Social media continues to be the greatest focus group out there, because it’s tuning in on natural conversations – so why are just over a quarter of marketers understanding this? Scary stuff.

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 business, regardless of size and resources.

As well as the points above, other challenges include tracking multiple channels, choosing the right tools, delegating the right people and tying social media results to actual business results.

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.

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?

The good news is, companies are beginning to notice where they’re lacking and what needs to be done to improve:

  • 53% of businesses are now using more than two Facebook accounts, to offer a more targeted experience (13% have more than five profiles).
  • 45% of businesses have two or more Twitter accounts, with 11% having more than five profiles.
  • 80% of marketers are creating teams of up to three people to manage social media.
  • 65% are using community platforms to engage with their customer base, while collaboration platforms like Basecamp and Huddle are expected to be used more in 2013.

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

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32 comments
FerHernaiz
FerHernaiz

@RonaldYau Interesting info!. I saw @seamless and I think it's a really good idea

FerHernaiz
FerHernaiz

@RonaldYau Interesting info!. I saw @seamless and I think it's a really good idea

SuzanneMannion
SuzanneMannion

Great article and very useful information! Although some of the findings are a bit worrying, I can’t help but notice that businesses are getting to know how things really work around the social media scene and are realizing its true power. However, when it comes to measurement, one of the problems is that every marketer seems to have a different technique and they often tend to just measure the accumulation of friends, followers or likes, and forget to look at brand awareness (measured by surveys) or actual leads. Also, the problem with ROI and measurement can also be caused by a lack of clear objectives and goals that marketers need to establish for their social media strategy.

SuzanneMannion
SuzanneMannion

Great article and very useful information! Although some of the findings are a bit worrying, I can’t help but notice that businesses are getting to know how things really work around the social media scene and are realizing its true power. However, when it comes to measurement, one of the problems is that every marketer seems to have a different technique and they often tend to just measure the accumulation of friends, followers or likes, and forget to look at brand awareness (measured by surveys) or actual leads. Also, the problem with ROI and measurement can also be caused by a lack of clear objectives and goals that marketers need to establish for their social media strategy.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@rock_writes Hey there Connie, thanks miss! How's your degree coming along?

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@rock_writes Hey there Connie, thanks miss! How's your degree coming along?

a_elkins
a_elkins

@Danny I think a consumer-led poll is exactly what's needed. This report (and others) all examine the issue from the corporate/brand perspective. If corporations and brands are still using out-dated measurement metrics, or don't even know how to measure success, then who's to say that the rest of their input is worth a darn? We need to hear what resonates with the user, directly from the user.

Enstine Muki@easyretweet.com
Enstine Muki@easyretweet.com

Hi Danny, Nice write up and encouraging stats for social medial too developers. Social is about relationships and that explains why 78% care about better customer engagement. Business are out to minimize cost and SM is very cost-effective.

amirul
amirul

Facebook is currently full of advertisement, all I can say.. ads everywhere. At one time I am bored with Facebook but have no choice.. must use it. A few years ago, this is what happened to Friendster and Myspace until the day we found that Facebook is a better place.

Christina Pappas
Christina Pappas

I'm confused. Brands want more engagement and to improve customer experience yet they are measuring this by # of fans & followers? Does this not sound wacky to anyone else? "Numbers mean squat" <- exactly! If we are focusing on customer engagement, let's find a better measurement (clicking 'like' doesn't = engaged). ROI continues to be a tough one. It's easy to measure paid social - PPC on LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter - but it's hard to determine what impact your conversation with someone in the social networks had on their conversion. We are all still learning.

Blockbuster Diva
Blockbuster Diva

Well a lot more people have access to the internet nowadays. Using social media really is the way forward if you want more people to see your business.

William T. Co
William T. Co

It would be really nice to be able to fully utilize social media for businesses. It's really the future.

Jamie
Jamie

Nice article, love the context and your style of writing. Everyone knows how important social media is to market there company. It's really nice to see actual numbers and someone tracking the importance. Thanks for sharing Jamie.

Laura
Laura

Great article-- I enjoyed it very much and was useful information to share with my clients to make the case for social media-- still some skeptics out there!

Michael Martine
Michael Martine

Great stuff, much appreciated and confirms the gray areas around ROI. It's unfortunate the biggest influence on people seems to be "big numbers" which are easy and meaningless to get (like the recently revealed practice of Mitt Romney's site redirecting traffic from unrelated misspelled URLs probably just to increase traffic). On other hand, it says that specifically marketers were the respondents. I'm curious about what consumers would say.

Cathy Summer
Cathy Summer

Although marketers agree that they need to drive higher customer engagement and revenues with social marketing, only 47% of them actually measure what they do and invest in what matters. The majority of social marketers (66%) still spend time and effort growing the number of social fans and followers or creating and publishing content (56%), while only 35% are focused specifically on integration between social marketing and the rest of the organization.

Howie the Horned God of Myspace
Howie the Horned God of Myspace

Just as I am noticing I interact less and less with businesses on Social Media except when pissed of course. I think we will get to a point where the usage and chatter get's so big that we go back to sending letters to each other in the mail and using horse and carriage to get around.

DennisVanStaalduinen (@DenVan)
DennisVanStaalduinen (@DenVan)

Nice work Danny. I'm just putting together materials for my Social Media Monitoring and Measurement course, and you just wrote lesson one for me!

rock_writes
rock_writes

@DannyBrown Thx for asking. Just finished with orientation. Great cohort, faculty, check. Helpful pre-class workshops, check. #MCDM rocks!

rock_writes
rock_writes

@DannyBrown Thx for asking. Just finished with orientation. Great cohort, faculty, check. Helpful pre-class workshops, check. #MCDM rocks!

Danny
Danny

Makes you wonder how the other 22% are faring, eh mate? Cheers!

Danny
Danny

One of the things being discussed by folks I know is the option to pay Facebook something like $50 per year to get rid of ads and make the experience more personal. Wondering if that's the business model they need to adapt?

Danny
Danny

Yeah, that figure through me for a loop as well, Christina. Then again, I wonder what impact social scoring platforms have on this, since (for me) the nature of online conversations has changed, as people want to be considered influential, receive Perks/Rewards, etc. So perhaps the chase for numbers is skewed on that front? With ROI impact, here's one way to look at it. You have a small call centre. You have 10 staff manning the phones, and they're taking one call at a time to resolve issues, etc. They take too long, through no fault of their own - they're simply overstretched and undermanned. Now, initially you have the same ten people on Twitter, answering simple questions and defusing situations on a one to many basis. Customers are happy, potential customers see how you interact and want to sign up to you. The anger and frustration level goes down, which means the negativity around your brand goes down, which means you can now leave 4 people on Twitter and allocate the other 6 to core jobs in the company on a real one-to-one level. The improved process, costs and more associated with this move shows return both financially and resource-wise. So, that's one way we can look at it - others are dependent on the brand's needs. Thanks, miss!

Danny
Danny

Hi William, What areas are you struggling in?

Danny
Danny

Cool, great to hear Laura, and thanks. And remember, there were skeptics about the car at one stage... ;-)

Danny
Danny

That's a good point, mate - we always look at it from out angle, because we're trying to make sense of what works, what doesn't, does it justify budget, etc. But perhaps it is time for a more consumer-led poll that shows us all that information and more, just from a different (read, natural) slant. Cheers!

Danny
Danny

Glad the info helps, mate - that'll be $47, please. ;-)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@rock_writes That sounds pretty cool, miss - will have to check the #MCDM hashtag and convos out :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@rock_writes That sounds pretty cool, miss - will have to check the #MCDM hashtag and convos out :)

a_elkins
a_elkins

@Danny I think a consumer-led poll is exactly what's needed. This report (and others) all examine the issue from the corporate/brand perspective. If corporations and brands are still using out-dated measurement metrics, or don't even know how to measure success, then who's to say that the rest of their input is worth a darn? We need to hear what resonates with the user, directly from the user.

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