Let’s talk about budgets.
It took a while.
Even though tens of millions of users were flocking to social media sites every day, most marketers stayed away. They either didn’t understand how to join the conversations—without sounding like shills—or they were frightened away by the prospect of associating their brands with questionable content.
But things are changing.
Companies are learning how to leverage social media and tap into the rising tide of consumers participating in social network sites, blogs, wikis and Twitter.
According to the “The ROI on Social Media Marketing” report from the Aberdeen Group, sponsored by Visible Technologies, marketers have developed the tools and methodologies to drive marketing ROI by listening to and learning from customers and prospects.
The money is following the methods.
Aberdeen found that 63% of the companies in their survey (defined as best-in-class) planned to increase their social media marketing budgets this year.
“Companies use multiple approaches to identify the individuals who wield the greatest amount of influence in any given topic area and to track changes in their influence over time,” said Jeff Zabin of Aberdeen. “Best-in-class companies engage these top influencers as brand evangelists, and then track the impact of their words and actions in terms of return on marketing investment.”
eMarketer estimates that social network advertising alone will rise over 17% this year to $2.35 billion, up from $2 billion in 2008.
But simply because companies are increasing their spending on social media doesn’t mean all the drawbacks have disappeared. Measurement, in particular, is a sticking point.
The Aberdeen research showed that 39% of companies found it somewhat difficult to measure social media, and 20% said it was very difficult.
For more information on social marketing, download the eMarketer report Social Networks: Five Consumer Trends for 2009 today.