2015 Social Media Marketing Trends

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1 2015 Social Media Marketing Trends A 2015 survey and report on social media marketing practices and software usage By Megan Headley Research Director, TrustRadius First Published May TrustRadius. All rights reserved. This publication has been licensed by Simply Measured. Reproduction or sharing of this publication in any form without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. Page 1 of 20

2 Table of Contents Executive Summary...3 The Struggle to Demonstrate the Value of Social...5 Measuring ROI is the #1 challenge... 5 Communicating value is also a key challenge... 8 Companies focus on readily available vanity metrics... 8 Companies have a hard time dedicating enough resources to social...11 Finding the Right Goals for Social Media Brand awareness is #1 goal...12 Companies struggle to define consistent goals...13 Social media strategy not aligned with overall business...14 Using Technology to Manage Social Media Companies use multiple tools to manage and measure social media...16 Turning data into insights...18 Conclusion TrustRadius. All rights reserved. This publication has been licensed by Simply Measured. Reproduction or sharing of this publication in any form without TrustRadius prior written permission is strictly prohibited. For information on reprints, please contact TrustRadius is a trademark of T-Radius Holdings, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. TrustRadius disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information and shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in such information. This publication consists of the opinions of TrustRadius research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

3 Executive Summary Megan Headley, Research Director, TrustRadius Social media is one of the newest and fastest changing elements of business. As we noted in our Buyer s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Management Software, companies are slowly shifting their approach to social media, from an isolated marketing channel to an integrated part of the business. As companies increase their sophistication from a minimally viable social media presence to an integrated, strategic approach to leveraging social media across the organization, a few things tend to happen. First, responsibility shifts from less than one FTE (typically in the marketing or communications department) to a small, dedicated team within one department to a team servicing multiple departments to a holistic approach, where many individuals in the company participate. Second, organizations start to leverage social media in multiple ways, from reputation management to customer service to finding advocates to market research. Finally, companies engage the help of more sophisticated technology to manage, measure, and analyze social media activities. This shift has been underway for a few years, so Simply Measured, a social analytics solution, commissioned TrustRadius to survey the state of social media marketing today. Specifically, where do companies sit on the social media maturity spectrum? What are their main goals, and what are the biggest challenges they face? Do they have access to and are they using the right metrics to understand whether they are meeting those goals? Are they satisfied with the technology they use to support their social media activities? Nearly 600 social media practitioners from consultants to CMOs to community managers took our survey in February/March 2015, responding to questions about the status, goals, and challenges of their social media programs. These are our main findings: 1. Demonstrating the value of social programs is the number one challenge. Companies of all sizes and maturity levels are struggling to prove the value of their social programs. Social media activities can be difficult to quantify, and marketers are trapped between readily available vanity metrics such as likes and followers and difficult-to-measure objectives such as brand awareness. Page 3 of 20

4 2. Social media is largely not yet integrated into the overall business. Social media goals are not wholly aligned with overall business goals. Furthermore, while marketers largely feel they effectively leverage social media data and analytics to optimize their marketing strategies, they don t feel social media data impacts their company s overall business strategy. 3. Companies don t have the right set of tools to manage and measure social media activities. Marketers are using multiple sources of data and multiple technology products to manage and measure social media activities. Though they largely trust the data they get, they still aren t able to interpret the data to show value, and many aren t satisfied with their set of tools. Many of these findings are true regardless of company size (from small businesses to large enterprise) and regardless of where companies fit on the social media maturity spectrum. All of these findings represent a prime opportunity for social media software vendors to (a) educate their customers on building a social media strategy that is realistic, measurable, and supportive of overall business goals, and (b) help their customers take the leap from collecting data to surfacing insights. Once marketers are better equipped to define and demonstrate the value of social media to the business, other common challenges, like garnering enough internal resources, will be diminished. The rest of this report explores these findings in greater detail and provides key survey results. Page 4 of 20

5 The Struggle to Demonstrate the Value of Social The fact that companies are struggling to demonstrate the value of social media efforts is not new. In Altimeter s social media marketing surveys in 2010 and 2012, the ability to Create metrics that demonstrate the value of social media was the most common internal social media objective, with 48% of respondents identifying it as a key objective both years. Developing internal education and training was the second most common internal objective each year. Training could be related to educating others on the value of social or educating others on participating in social. The ability to Connect social data to other enterprise data sources to deliver actionable insight was also a common internal objective among survey respondents in 2012, at 33%. What is surprising is that despite the increasing sophistication of tools to collect and combine data and surface insights, this weak point remains the number one challenge in Measuring ROI is the #1 challenge In our survey, Measuring ROI was the most commonly cited challenge; 60% of respondents included it as one of the top three most challenging aspects of their social media program. It s followed by Tying social activities to business outcomes (a similar challenge) and Developing our social media strategy. What are the three most challenging aspects of your social program? Measuring ROI Tying social activities to business outcomes Developing our social media strategy Securing enough internal resources Tracking results in a centralized dashboard Keeping up with everchanging social networks Integrating various social tools Monitoring our competition 16% 20% 27% 32% 40% 48% 50% 60% Other 7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Page 5 of 20

6 The main challenges vary little among companies of different sizes. When segmenting responses by small businesses (1-50 employees), mid-size companies (51-1,000 employees), and enterprises (more than 1,000 employees), measuring ROI and tying social activities to business outcomes are significant challenges across all segments. However, developing a social media strategy is a more common challenge among small businesses than enterprises, and securing enough internal resources is a more common problem in larger companies. What are the three most challenging aspects of your social program? Small Mid-size Enterprise Measuring ROI Tying social activities to business outcomes Securing enough internal resources Developing our social media strategy Tracking results in a centralized dashboard Integrating various social tools Keeping up with everchanging social networks Monitoring our competition Other 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% The challenges also vary slightly depending on a company s self-classified maturity level 1. Measuring ROI is a more common problem among more socially mature organizations, while developing a strategy is a more common challenge among less socially mature companies. 1 Respondents were asked to rate the social media maturity of their company on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is early stage and 5 is very mature. Those who answered 1 or 2 are considered Beginner, those who answered 3 are Intermediate, and 4 or 5 are Advanced. Page 6 of 20

7 What are the three most challenging aspects of your social program? Beginner Intermediate Advanced Measuring ROI Tying social activities to business outcomes Developing our social media strategy Securing enough internal resources Tracking results in a centralized dashboard Keeping up with everchanging social networks Integrating various social tools Monitoring our competition Other 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% The focus on measuring ROI among larger and more socially mature organizations is interesting. Many experts feel return on investment might be a mismatched metric to social media. According to MarketingProfs 2012 State of Social Media Marketing report, focusing exclusively on ROI might lead to ineffective social media strategies: The recent focus on measuring ROI in social media appears to have driven some marketers to place direct sales at the top of their list of priorities. However, this may require marketers to become overly aggressive with their messaging in an environment that does not typically welcome a hard sell approach. Indeed, Altimeter s A Framework for Social Analytics report states that ROI is just one metric in the social business toolkit. Rather than focusing on social media as a monolithic entity, businesses should evaluate it based on its contribution to a range of business goals. Tying social activities to business outcomes the second most common challenge among survey respondents could be a more mature method to evaluate the impact of social on the overall business, and allow marketers to use social media in the most effective way, rather than forcing it to fit into a specific ROI model measured directly in sales. Page 7 of 20

8 Communicating value is also a key challenge In open-ended responses on the topic of challenges, many individuals mentioned a difficulty in communicating value or convincing others in the company of the value of social media: Developing and nurturing belief in social as more than just a revenue- and trafficdriving medium. Communicating value to our uneducated internal stakeholders. Getting brands to realize social is a long term investment. People don t really feel comfortable putting money into social until they start to see some results. Kind of a catch 22 really. Companies focus on readily available vanity metrics Another indication of the fact that marketers are struggling to measure and communicate the impact of social is the fact that they are still largely focused on easy-to-access vanity metrics such as likes, shares, followers and fans to evaluate success on social media. Engagement (such as likes, shares, etc.) is considered the most important metric for evaluating success; 80% of respondents identified it as one of the top three metrics. Audience size and website traffic are also important, with 61% and 56% choosing them as one of the top three. Notably, all three of these metrics are easy to track. However, they don t always tie directly to business goals such as revenue or customer retention. Metrics that are more difficult to track (yet tie more directly to broader business goals), such as revenue and customer satisfaction, are among the top three most important metrics for less than a quarter of respondents. Page 8 of 20

9 What are your three most important metrics for evaluating the success of your social media program? Engagement (likes, shares, etc.) 80% Audience (followers, fans, etc.) 61% Website traffic 56% Leads 32% Revenue Customer satisfaction (support issues resolved, etc.) Benchmarking against competitors (share of voice, etc.) Other 4% 19% 24% 23% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Engagement, audience size, and website traffic are the most common metrics across all company sizes. However, website traffic is less important among enterprises than SMBs. Conversely, customer satisfaction and benchmarking against competitors are more commonly listed as important metrics among enterprises. Leads and revenue are more commonly listed as important metrics among small and mid-size companies. The three most important metrics don t vary in any meaningful way by social maturity level. Page 9 of 20

10 What are your three most important metrics for evaluating the success of your social media program? Small Mid-size Enterprise Engagement (likes, shares, etc.) Audience (followers, fans, etc.) Website traffic Customer satisfaction (support issues resolved, etc.) Benchmarking against competitors (share of voice, etc.) Leads Revenue Other 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% The focus on engagement is understandable though possibly misplaced and has the potential to lead to ineffective social strategies. According to this Scribd article discussing engagement on Facebook, online engagement metrics are not always an indication of the persuasiveness or effectiveness of content. Engagement metrics alone are not an effective indication of campaign success; it s also necessary to measure real business outcomes attributable to social campaigns, such as customer loyalty or sales. This doesn t mean attempting the hard sell mentioned in the MarketingProfs 2012 State of Social Media Marketing report, which might be a suboptimal yet easy-to-measure approach to social media; rather, it means finding ways to understand how interactions with customers on social are having a real business impact. Page 10 of 20

11 In open-ended responses, a few individuals added context to the difficulty in truly understanding the impact of social media activities: Tying social media back to sales conversion points in the overall sales funnel and then to business sales and even repurchase is incredibly difficult. Even with sophisticated programs and services like Eloqua, DemandGen, SFDC [Salesforce. com], etc. there is still the difficulty understanding what works and what does not. At the end of the day social media is just one part of a greater whole that a customer is exposed to. It s almost impossible to gauge TRUE engagement numbers. We have Instagram numbers, Facebook numbers, Twitter numbers, a fair amount of crossover where members participate in numerous platforms, and no way to get a real bottom line unique number. Companies have a hard time dedicating enough resources to social Given the difficulty demonstrating the value of social, it s not surprising that marketers also have a hard time securing the resources needed to maintain their social programs. Forty percent (40%) of respondents overall identified Securing enough internal resources as one of their top three challenges. In addition, in openended responses, survey takers also mentioned struggling to dedicate enough time to social media activities, and struggling to create enough content. Social initiatives are very time consuming. Not enough dedicated staff to do the job. Time and knowledge to do the work, develop all the content for inbound marketing. Original content creation is my #1 challenge. Page 11 of 20

12 Finding the Right Goals for Social Media Companies face two challenges when it comes to setting goals and objectives for their social media programs: (1) they are struggling to have well-defined goals consistent across departments and (2) social media strategy is not wholly aligned with the overall business strategy. Brand awareness is #1 goal The focus of social media efforts is overwhelmingly on top-of-the-funnel activities. Overall, brand awareness is by far the most common goal; 71% of respondents identified it as one of the top three goals of their social programs. It s followed by driving website traffic and audience reach / share of voice also top-of-the-funnel measures. What are the top 3 goals of your social program? Brand awareness 71% Drive website traffic 48% Audience reach/ share of voice 38% Generate leads Drive conversions/revenue Drive customer loyalty 29% 28% 32% Customer service Reputation management 20% 22% Competitive research Other Market research 5% 4% 3% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Page 12 of 20

13 After brand awareness, the three most common goals do vary a bit by company size. Driving website traffic is less important to enterprises; they re focused on audience reach and customer service. Small businesses are interested in generating leads, and mid-size companies are interested in driving customer loyalty. GOAL PRIORITIZATION PER COMPANY SIZE SMALL BUSINESSES 1. Brand awareness (74%) 2. Drive website traffic (53%) 3. Generate leads (41%) MID-SIZE COMPANIES 1. Brand awareness (75%) 2. Drive website traffic (50%) 3. Generate leads (34%) ENTERPRISES 1. Brand awareness (65%) 2. Audience reach/share of voice (41%) 3. Customer service (38%) Companies struggle to define consistent goals Open-ended responses about goals emphasized the difficulty in having well-defined goals or consistent, company-wide goals. Right now, we are mostly on social media because it seems like a bad idea not to be on social media. There aren t really any definable goals. Still trying to figure out how to monetize social. Approach = minimum viable social presence. Social media goals will vary by brand, we also face a challenge where goals will vary by who you re speaking to within the company because brands are hesitant to set actual goals for social media. Others commonly mentioned engagement, recruiting, and thought leadership as additional goals. Page 13 of 20

14 Social media strategy not aligned with overall business As mentioned above, the most common goals of social media programs brand awareness, website traffic, and audience reach are both top-of-the-funnel and, with the potential exception of website traffic, difficult to tie back to real business outcomes. Overall business goals are more likely to also include goals tied directly to revenue, such as increase conversions, tap into a new market, reduce churn, etc. In terms of both strategy and measurement, most companies have not been able to align social media efforts with the broader business objectives. It is still for many, as we can see in the open-ended responses, a channel that companies know they need a presence, but aren t always sure how to leverage it. Marketers do generally feel they effectively use social media data to inform their social media marketing strategy and to optimize their social campaigns; 50% agree and an additional 38% somewhat agree that social media data and analytics impact their company s social media marketing strategy. However, agreement declines significantly when we asked whether social media data and analytics impact the company s overall business strategy. Marketers feel they are able to effectively leverage social data within their campaigns, but businesses aren t leveraging this data beyond the silo of social media marketing. While broad potential uses of social data have been much discussed in the industry (informing product development decisions, discovering new customer markets, testing messaging strategies, surfacing issues such as outages or product failures, etc.), these approaches are still not widespread. Not surprisingly, companies that are more socially mature are better able to leverage social data in their social media marketing as well as their overall business strategy. Additionally, companies who use a dedicated tool for social media analytics are also better able to leverage data than those who don t. Social media data and analytics impact my company's social media marketing strategy. Agree Somewhat Agree Somewhat Disagree Disagree Beginner Intermediate Advanced Dedicated social analytics tool users All respondents 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Page 14 of 20

15 Social media data and analytics impact my company's *overall* business strategy. Agree Somewhat Agree Somewhat Disagree Disagree Beginner Intermediate Advanced Dedicated social analytics tool users All respondents 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Page 15 of 20

16 Using Technology to Manage Social Media Companies are using multiple tools to both manage and measure their social media activities. While marketers trust the data they get, they are struggling to interpret data and understand how to evaluate the success of their social media campaigns. This is evidenced by the main challenges of measuring ROI and tying social activities to business outcomes. Social media software vendors will need to educate their customers further on how to aggregate and understand social media data. Companies use multiple tools to manage and measure social media Most companies are using one to two software products to manage social media activities. Many are using three or four. Larger companies tend to use more tools. How many software products does your company use to help manage social media activities? Small Mid-size Enterprise % 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Page 16 of 20

17 In terms of measurement, companies are using an average of three different tools to report and analyze their social media activities. The most commonly used tools are the analytics offered natively in social media networks (64% of respondents), a social media management tool (62%), a web analytics tool (59%), and spreadsheets (46%). What does your company use to analyze and report on its social media activities? The analytics offered natively in social media networks A social media management platform (e.g. Hootsuite) A web analytics solution (e.g. Google Analytics) 59% 62% 65% Spreadsheets (e.g. Excel) 46% A dedicated social media analytics software product (e.g. Simply Measured) 22% A CRM solution (e.g. Salesforce.com) 15% A marketing automation solution (e.g. Marketo) 10% Nothing 4% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Larger and more socially mature companies tend to use more analytics tools. Page 17 of 20

18 Average number of tools to analyze and report on social media activities Small Mid-size Enterprise 0.0 Beginner Intermediate Advanced Given multiple sources of data, it is not surprising that 35% of respondents identified Tracking results in a centralized dashboard as one of their top three challenges. Turning data into insights Respondents largely trust the data they get from these multiple sources of analytics. The vast majority of respondents feel they understand their social media audience. Additionally, 26% agree and an additional 49% somewhat agree that I trust the accuracy of my company s social media data and reporting. However, agreement declines when respondents were asked about their ability to optimize social media content and their level of satisfaction with the tools used for social analytics. Potentially, marketers trust the accuracy of the data, but feel analytics tools could do a better job of helping them interpret the data and use it to optimize their campaigns and strategies. Page 18 of 20

19 Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements. Agree Somewhat Agree Somewhat Disagree Disagree 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% I understand my company's social media audience. I trust the accuracy of my company's social media data and reporting. My company is able to effectively optimize our social media content. I am satisfied with my company's current social analytics platform or set of tools. Some respondents articulated via open-ended responses the struggle to find the right tool or set of tools for social media analytics: I find it difficult when it comes to deciding which tool I can use for analysis. Need a tool that handles ALL our social networks. Many do 3 out of 4. Additionally, some respondents brought up issues with social media networks themselves, which make analysis and optimization challenging. LinkedIn s lack of support in sharing analytics on individual contributors (status updates and LinkedIn group and company page participation)... it s an enormous hole for the collection and dissemination of metrics. Social networks change access to data from time to time and this makes it difficult to continue to develop the value added insights our customers wish to see by using our products. Page 19 of 20

20 Conclusion Marketers are interested in leveraging social media as a marketing channel, a source of data and insights, and potentially an integrated part of the overall business strategy. Their primary challenges include aligning goals, demonstrating value, and deriving insights from data. This represents a prime opportunity for social media technology vendors to help companies address these challenges. About TrustRadius TrustRadius is the leading site for business software users to share real-world insights through in-depth reviews and networking. We help users make better product selection, implementation and usage decisions. To learn more, visit About Simply Measured Simply Measured is the most complete social analytics solution, empowering marketers with unmatched access to their social data to more clearly define their social strategy and to optimize their tactics for maximum impact. To learn more, visit Page 20 of 20

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