10 November 2017,

The 2017 State of Social Media report

ROI is a top challenge. Brands aren’t trying to make their social activity work with conversion goals. And influencer marketing appears poised to take off widespread in response to brands’ social marketing needing to rise above clutter.

By Curtis Kitchen, NAA Director of Communications

In 2017 social media, While more brands and agencies are spending or planning to spend increased amounts on social marketing, many are still doing so without knowing exactly how to measure the return on their investments.

That’s according to “The State of Social Marketing – 2017 annual report,” a robust debrief released earlier this year from social analytics firm Simply Measured. The report surveyed results from more than 2,700 social media marketing professionals from 111 countries.

By more than a 25 percent margin, measuring ROI was deemed the top social media challenge across the board. At 58.7 percent, brand and agency social media professionals combined tabbed ROI as their biggest issue. This marked a 2.3-percent improvement over 2016. The next issue shouldn’t be much of a surprise as 33.6 percent said the second largest issue is tying social to business goals. Securing enough budget and resources for social activities was third, at 25.9 percent

“Measuring ROI is a constant challenge for marketers, year after year,” the report said. “The results of the year’s survey prove again that few marketers feel confident quantifying revenue driven by social media efforts.

“Between brands and agencies, only 14.8 percent claimed to be able to quantify the revenue gained from social media marketing. However, this is a 5.4 percent increase from the 2016 survey, when only 9.4 percent of marketers reported they could quantify revenue generated from social.”

The increase, even if slight, is encouraging as it points to better understanding of the real goal of social marketing, which is to positively affect the bottom line.

2017 social media: Paid social

Return on investment is growingly crucial because more marketers are spending more money at the outset. This includes auction professionals who understand that organic reach no longer should be trusted to deliver marketing messages on its own.

“Within the first quarter of 2017, Facebook Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest saw a 61.5 percent increase in paid media spend, according to new research from 4C Insights,” the report said.

Considering that social media users across all networks grew by 20 percent within the last year – including Facebook, which now reports 2 billion active users and 1.32 billion daily active users – using paid social to directly reach target groups is now a necessity, mostly.

A split exists between brands and agencies, however.

While 59.1 percent of agencies said paid advertising is “very important” in their overall social strategy (which makes sense when considering agencies, in general, must prove their efforts to clients), just 38.6 percent of brands, which may or may not have to report their efforts, said the same. Additionally, 22.6 percent of brands said paid advertising holds no importance.

Part of that divide may come from a lack of understanding how paid social (and social overall) fits with other areas of engagement like web traffic.

“Overall, 45.3 percent of [combined – agencies and brands] marketers said paid social is a very important part of their social strategy,” the report said, “yet there seems to be a large number of marketers who aren’t connecting back to web traffic or conversion goals.”

When asked “Do you have web traffic and conversion goals for social media?” a large 68.4 percent of marketers reported not establishing deliberate goals for both traffic and conversion, or none at all.

This is noteworthy when eMarketer predicted a 26.3-percent increase on spending for social media ads.

2017 social media: Influencer marketing

In the September 2016 issue of Auctioneer, many months ahead of Simply Measured’s report, we took a good look at influencer marketing in a piece called “What is Influencer Marketing?” In that piece, two steps were given in order to find influencers relevant to your brand.

The first tip was to look on specific platforms to see who is talking about your brand or industry.

“Look for users who: 1) have large audiences; 2) post frequently; and 3) post original ideas and conversations that relate to the content and brand you would like to spread,” the article said.

So, coming back to 2017 social media things, Simply Measured asked which factors make up an ideal influencer. “Reach” and “Expertise in That Field/Industry” were the heavy favorites, with “Content Type” a strong third. In other words, marketers around the world are using Auctioneer’s advice.

Not only are they looking for influencers the right way, the majority understand the power that comes with a solid influencer strategy.

“Over half (52.7 percent) of brands say that they either agree or strongly agree that influencers are vital to the success of social,” the report said. On the other side, 23.4 percent of brands said they disagree or strongly disagree that influencers are essential to their social strategy.

“Influencer marketing is one of the hottest social marketing topics this year,” Simply Measured said. eMarketer said 84 percent of marketers were planning to launch at least one influencer campaign in 2017.