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Nearly nine in 10 US companies with 100-plus employees will use social media for marketing purposes this year, eMarketer estimates. However, marketers still struggle to measure the value of such efforts, based on a March 2015 study by Simply Measured and TrustRadius.
Social media professionals in North America from companies of all sizes were most likely to cite measuring return on investment (ROI) as one of the most challenging aspects of their social media programs. Tying social activities to business outcomes was also cited by around half of respondents from each group, putting it as the second-biggest challenge for midsize and enterprise companies and the third biggest for small firms.
Other research finds similar results. In a December 2014 study from SharpSpring, 40% of ad agency professionals worldwide cited the inability to measure ROI as a leading obstacle to achieving social media marketing success, and in other December 2014 research from Ascend2, 42% of marketing professionals worldwide said the same. In addition, among client-side marketers polled worldwide in January 2015 by Econsultancy, just 20% said their ability to measure social media investment (for engagement and retention) was “good.” The remaining 80% of responses were evenly split between “OK” and “poor.”
One key factor that could be preventing measurement success is the proper usage of social media technology. Social media professionals polled by Simply Measured and TrustRadius used an average of three social media tools to report on and analyze such efforts. Analytics native to social networks were the most commonly used tools, cited by 65% of respondents. Social media management platforms followed, at 62%, while web analytics solutions rounded out the top three.
Nearly all respondents were able to gather data from such tools on their social audience, and three-quarters trusted the accuracy of social media data and reporting. However, issues arose when it came to more advanced social tech usage, including the ability to optimize social media content and level of satisfaction with their current social analytics platform or set of tools.
The study noted that companies didn’t have the right tools to manage and measure social media. While marketers have certainly adopted several social tools, discontent with the ability to act on the findings from such technologies suggests they should take a quality over quantity approach to move on from mediocre measurement—and drive the ROI and value they desire.
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