A couple months ago, we published a blog post about social media marketing and how organizations were grappling with the goals of the initiative.  A recent report from BI Intelligence, entitled “The Decline Of Social ROI – How Social Media Marketers Are Moving Towards More Basic, No-Frills Metrics,” sheds a different light on the issue.  It says that social media marketers are placing less emphasis on ROI-oriented metrics and more emphasis on building brand presence and deepening relationships with customers.  Here are the major takeaways from the report:

    • Many social media marketers are moving away from metrics that purport to measure ROI. They’ve realized that social media isn’t a transactional engine or sales machine.
    • Social media is mainly good at building brand presence and deepening relationships with customers.
    • The metrics to watch are audience reach, engagement, and sentiment.
    • Most basic metrics like number of fans or likes are known as “vanity metrics,” because they don’t offer much beyond making social media managers feel good about themselves.
    • Shares are particularly valuable, because normal users’ posts are seen in a relatively high percentage of friends’ news feeds (compared to posts by brand pages); between 29 and 35% according to one study.
    • Surprisingly few brands and businesses use metrics to perform a competitive analysis of how they stack up against other brands on social media platforms.

Most of the takeaways are consistent with what we are hearing as we talk to organizations about their analytic needs in the digital marketing area.  In particular:

    • We are finding that the notion of Social ROI is intriguing to some organizations but they are not sure what the “R” should be.
    • We see a lot of interest in engagement metrics, like the ones advocated by Avinash Kaushik – conversation, amplification, and applause.  However, we feel that the manner in which these metrics are presented is important.  Social media marketers have certain levers that can affect the performance of their activities – what time of day should I make a post, how often should I make posts, what social channels should I use for certain posts, etc.  So they need insights that let them answer those type of questions easily.

The one takeaway from the report that we are surprised about is the last one, where few brands and businesses are using metrics to perform a competitive analysis on social media marketing activity.  Many organizations we talk to are very interested in doing this but currently don’t have an easy way to do so.  They would love something like this…

A comforting data point from the report is that even though organizations are placing less emphasis on revenue-oriented metrics, it doesn’t seem to be affecting the investments organizations are planning to make in social media marketing, as this chart indicates…

What are your organization’s goals for social media marketing?  Have they changed over time?  Please provide us your feedback by adding a comment below.


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