Big things are happening in social media, and marketing leaders that are able to keep their heads up in a fast-moving industry will be able to take advantage of some tremendous opportunities.
But in order to gain from the opportunities presented, you have to know what’s happening in the social media world. Rival IQ recently conducted extensive research on the most pressing challenges, most critical KPIs and priorities facing marketers worldwide concerning social media and the many disciplines it touches. The results both verify common assumptions and expectations as well as offer a few surprises, offering marketers critical information to base their decisions on moving forward this year.
Though the research didn’t necessarily offer any astounding surprises, there were still some eyebrow-raisers:
- Despite many newcomers to the social network scene, Facebook and Twitter remain the most important channels for most businesses.
- Marketers are still struggling to build the content machine they need to power their social success. Feeling understaffed and stretched thin among the myriad social channels make up a significant portion of the challenge.
- The KPIs of choice are numerable and diverse – no one marketing metric of success dominates all others as the most important path to ROI.
The Five Most Important Social Trends
While the research results uncovered many interesting nuggets about what marketers are thinking, doing and struggling with, there were a few insights that stand out above the rest.
#1: Trouble Building Content Marketing Momentum
When top marketers are asked what challenges are proving the most difficult with social, a couple took a prominent lead: content marketing and social media staffing issues.
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Many respondents to the Rival IQ survey added comments about how it’s not only an issue of not having enough people to do the work required, it’s also challenging to find the right people and skill sets. As marketing has become more data-driven, and business oriented and technical, the skills in the marketing talent pool haven’t kept up. That talent gap is creating a lot of pain for marketing leaders.
#2: Critical KPIs
Marketers are increasingly given the responsibility of clearly showing the impact marketing has on a business or organization. Even though effective marketers tend to track and report on many different metrics, 20% of the respondents said “conversion to revenue” was the most important metric.
These results reinforce that identifying the connection between marketing and revenue is putting more and more pressure on marketing leaders. The days of marketing being responsible for just top-of-funnel activity and metrics are long gone.
Identifying the connection between marketing and revenue is putting more and more pressure on marketing leaders
Now, marketers must show how their efforts, budget and results are leading to conversion all the way through the end of the funnel. Other related KPIs that are heavily tracked are conversions to qualified lead, and the quantity of qualified leads.
The other standout metric in popularity is social media engagement. The value of community engagement is becoming more and more apparent to brands, and marketers are measuring and reporting on engagement as a critical measure of success. While audience and activity are important metrics for social media, at the end of the day, it’s engagement with those followers and your content that moves the needle.
#3: Inactive Social Accounts
The gap between how many social networks an organization is “on” vs how many it’s active with is remarkable. Most companies have some kind of account registered on four to five social media networks; however, they are usually only active on two or three.
There is a growing consumer expectation that brands need to be accessible everywhere, so they are setting up profiles on multiple channels. Part of the issue of maintaining multiple networks could have to do with resource issues; not having enough expertise and social media staffing capacity to keep up all the relevant accounts. The research also shows that the vast majority of companies surveyed have one person managing social media for their organization.
Tim Martin explains how “Zombie” social accounts can damage your image:
#4: The Kings of Social Endure
One of the reasons it’s so hard for marketers to prioritize social networks is because there are so many of them. But when faced with the question of which social networks are critical for most organizations, the priorities are crystal clear.
In spite of all the newcomers, Facebook and Twitter reign, with more than 62% and 65% top marketing leaders saying Facebook and Twitter respectively were critical or very important to their marketing and organizations.
Priorities can shift slightly depending on whether the organization caters more to consumer or businesses. For B2C marketers, it’s all about Facebook, with 57% of B2C respondents calling it critical, and another 23% ranking Facebook as very important. After Facebook, B2C marketers ranked Twitter, Instagram and YouTube as the most important channels for their marketing.
For B2B, Twitter and LinkedIn should be your top priorities, with these two channels running almost neck-to-neck in terms of importance to the business. Facebook and YouTube followed these two, with Google+ coming in a weak fifth place.
Google+ is a somewhat of an anomaly, because there is benefit of keeping your presence updated there for search engine marketing benefits alone. But for those B2B marketers wondering about Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat: in most cases, they can afford letting it go rather than creating accounts that will just get abandoned.
#5: Growing Social Marketing Budgets
Social media spend is growing as a percentage of marketing budgets in 2015 compared to 2014. Last year, most marketers spent less than 10% of their budget on social media initiatives. In 2015, budgets are creeping higher, with a significant increase in the percentage of marketers spending 10-20% and 21-30% of their marketing budgets on social media.
Article source: Rival IQ
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