Brands across the world love social media and love spending their advertising money in various social media campaigns. Market study shows that the advertising spend in social media will continue to grow throughout this year and the next. More and more brands are willing to spend in paid social ads. In fact those already spending in paid social ads are looking to increase its share in their total advertising budget. According to Gartner’s social media survey investments and growth in social marketing is assured during the next two years.
Interestingly, the increase in spend for social media marketing is not so much to get direct response but to increase brand awareness and engage with existing and potential customers. Accroding to a report by research agency eMarketer majority of brands view social media as a platform to influence opinion of the target audience.
Discussing the top trends of why brands today invest in social media, Adam Sarner, research director at Gartner wrote in his blog that the top reason for businesses investing in social media is to improve customer relationships. The survey showed that when investing in social media brands are looking to strengthen the relationship with customer; enhance brand awareness and brand preference, share information and ideas with customers, suppliers and partners, establish interaction with customers; and increase the organization’s revenue through new products, ad customers.
Sarner says, “While investments and growth in social marketing is assured during the next two years, the ultimate success of social will depend on how well marketers can accelerate through the inevitable social expectation bust and make social marketing projects more than just “engagement” objectives and then actually tie social activities to clear and measurable business objectives. Far too many companies are still following the hype of ‘social’ and have created or participated in social media without a plan.”
While the companies across industries agree that it is important to have a social media presence and plan, but many still dither from investing in social media advertising due to the lack of clear or direct ROI. Even those brands that have strong social media presence especially in the consumer product, luxury goods, and media segment are still trying to tie spend on social with actual returns for the business. Explains Sarner, “Although the media industry has been an early adopter of social media tools and social networking sites for many years, they are still struggling with how to tie social metrics to business metrics. Several consumer-facing industries that were early adopters, such as media, retail, and areas in high technology, are now re-examining and questioning their business strategy around social.”
It is a fact that the moment a marketing team raises the issue of spending on social, the management ask for business value and budget justification. Other than the CMO may be, the top team in most organisations are still to be convinced about the impact of social metrics like fans, tweets, ‘Likes’ and social media analytics on the business revenue. They are looking for direct benefits from the money spent. “The implication of this lack of measurable benefits is that there will be a rapid maturing of the discipline of deploying social applications during the next two years. Users that can prove measurable benefits best are likely to get the next round of funding and maintain momentum in their social software projects after the hype has died,” adds Sarner.
So he advises that the marketing team needs to tie their social strategy with marketing and corporate strategy and objectives. That is when the top management will be more open to investing in social media campaigns. “While it will be okay to still encourage experimental use of social applications, which can create future unforeseen benefits, they should come with a timeline for observing direct business value,” Sarner says.