A survey of 2,885 marketers at top US brands by CMO Survey found an improvement in integration.
When asked how effectively their social media activity is linked to their overall marketing strategy, the 2,885 respondents stated that they are steadily becoming more integrated.
Marketers were able to mark their performance on a scale from one to seven, with one signifying “not integrated” and seven equalling “very integrated”.
While the metric has been consistently marked 3.8 since 2011, that figure rose to 4.2 in this year’s survey.
However, the results show that only 15% of firms are able to prove the impact of social media quantitatively, while 43.5% have a good sense of the qualitative impact, but not quantitative impact.
Additionally, marketers don’t rate their knowledge and skills in different social media arenas too highly either.
While the respondents are generally confident when it comes to connecting marketing strategies and social media strategies (4.0), they struggle to train people to perform social media activities (3.4) and manage external social media partners and agencies (3.3).
‘Likes’ still matter
To measure the impact of social media, 47.1% of respondents still use number of friends, followers and likes to rate their success. Other popular metrics are click through rates (47.9%), site traffic (51.4%) and page views (60.3%).
However, when it comes to demonstrating the impact of marketing spend on the overall business, most marketers have a good qualitative sense of the impact, but not quantitative.
Of the respondents, almost half (46%) said they have a good short-term overview, while 48% have a solid long-term understanding of the marketing impact.
Just over twenty per cent of marketers (20.5%) haven’t been able to show the impact at all.
Misalignment leads to failure
The CMO Survey’s director Christine Moorman believes marketers are struggling because they have not fully aligned their business and marketing objectives with social media activity.
“When it comes to marketing objectives, companies need to have an understanding of how social media facilitates the customer’s progression through the funnel, while in terms of marketing organisation there are often multiple people in different parts of the organisation working on the two tasks and they may even report to different leaders,” she says.
“This makes their integration challenging especially when the company has not developed mechanisms for facilitating their work together.”
This is having an impact on how much marketers are willing to spend on social. Currently it accounts for just 10.7% of marketing budgets.
“Without the metrics to prove effectiveness marketers are unwilling to shift budgets from other ‘proven’ channels,” says We Are Social’s chief strategy officer Mobbie Nazir.
“However, savvy brands are now realising that with consumers increasingly spending time on social platforms they have no choice but to start seriously investing in the space.”
– Mobbie Nazir, We Are Social’s chief strategy officer
Going forward, brands must ensure their social media activity has clear business goals, marketing objectives and a robust way of measuring results, says Nazir.
“That doesn’t just mean ‘likes’ and follower numbers but brand equity measurements and sales uplift,” she adds.
Social media sites are working to provide better metrics too so brands can compare social campaigns with others.
“It’s about recognising how [social media] sits in the overall marketing mix. We [Instagram] do an awful lot of work with Nielsen on that to build out a sense of proof,” Facebook’s UK managing director Steve Hatch told Marketing Week.