In previous posts, I’ve puzzled over the reluctance of certain industries and professions (for example, health care organizations and law firms) to embrace social media as part of their marketing and customer service strategies. But, here’s something I find even stranger: Businesses that ramp up their social media use without a plan measure the effectiveness of their efforts.
A study of 250 companies in the UK exposed disturbing discrepancies between time and resources devoted to social media and how well or thoroughly these businesses analyzed its impact. Upon surveying the marketing decision-makers at these organizations, researchers at EPiServer discovered a staggering 90 percent had no substantive way of collecting or analyzing the return on investment from their social media marketing forays.
In addition, more than half of these same marketing leaders admitted to having devoted larger slices of their campaigns to social media over the past year, and nearly 30 percent stated they implemented an additional social media channel during that same time frame. Moreover, one in five respondents predicted that they will invest even more resources on social media marketing over the coming 12 months—with no substantive evidence as to whether their current online campaigns had been effective.
When asked how they gauged the overall benefits their companies received as a result of their social media presence, the UK marketers provided some less than convincing testimonials:
- One in four indicated they had seen increases in traffic to their company’s website.
- One in five thought that they could credit their higher sales to their social media activity.
- 30 percent felt that they’ve witnessed greater customer loyalty due to their virtual outreach.
- 31 percent reported increases in customer engagement with their company or brand.
Not exactly ringing endorsements, right? But then, only 22 percent of these businesses employ a social media manager, and well less than 10 percent stated they had a centralized process or person for managing multiple social media channels.
“While an increasing number of businesses are embracing social media, there are clearly areas for improvement if they are to take full advantage,” observed Maria Wasing, EPiServer’s vice president of marketing and sales in Europe. “Managing social media can be challenging and time-consuming, so it’s vital to put in place a dedicated resource, along with the right tools and platforms to ensure multiple channels can be updated and managed with ease.”
As companies and brands increasingly reach out to their customer and prospects via social networks, they need to measure and report the impact of their efforts in more meaningful ways. Fortunately, technology can now help marketers coordinate social media messaging, retrieve response rates, analyze inputs and achieve actionable insights –all of which are required to effectively demonstrate social media ROI.