The battle over social media marketing

HEY NOW: According to Bango marketers need to realize that board-level executives aren’t interested in vanity metrics like shares, likes, and retweets… and don’t even get them started on “impressions” and “engagement” levels. But Sprout’s new report on social media marketing indicates that marketers are still pouring money into social media and feel it’s a channel they need for brand building. What we have here is failure to communicate.

I’m always skeptical of reports from social media agencies as their business is directly effected by whether a brand uses social media or not. Still their key finding, “eighty percent of business executives think it is very important or absolutely essential for their company to invest additional resources in social media marketing. Most consumers agree that brands and companies need a strong social media presence to succeed in the long run.” Is a pretty compelling argument for social media marketing.

Bango on the other hand said “for all the promises made about digital advertising and social engagement, it seems that CEOs are still struggling to buy into the dream. While almost all of our CEOs have signed off-budget for both social media marketing and paid social ads, the overwhelming majority struggle to understand how these channels feed into their specific business goals. Now, with marketing budgets tightening and the average cost per click increasing across most platforms, digital marketers need to find new ways to spend on marketing and prove that their efforts secure new customers and benefit the bottom line.”

So the question is “who is right?”. The answer is they both are.

First, marketers need to better define social media marketing metrics and tie efforts directly back to key brand objectives like brand/new product awareness. They need to better communicate up the chain about what social media can and can’t do and get buy-in from key company influencers.

CEOs, on the other hand, should understand that marketing does consist of a lot of tactics that can’t be directly measured to sales. For example, how do you measure consumers who like your brand because of a social issue you took a stand on or of a customer’s problem you solved on Twitter?

Sprout goes n to say “overwhelmingly, 91% report that over the next three years, their company’s social media marketing budget will increase; over half say it will grow by more than 50%.” But Bango’s report says “faced with this challenge (ROI), many CEOs are seriously considering winding-down their digital ad budgets — declaring them the first marketing activities to go if they hit hard times”.

In the eyes of the CEO, digital marketers are spending a small fortune on paid ads and returning with little more than a handful of likes and a spike in engagement rates. That may be enough to excite some marketers, but today’s boards are bored to death with such meaningless metrics.
The sad thing is that social media advertising has the potential to significantly contribute to the bottom line, but right now it’s missing the mark. 

Bango “Board To Death”

There is no one right answer. Social media can be very effective if a brand understands its audience and hires resources to implement a strategy. CEOs are always focused on the costs, but too many don’t know the value because they haven’t been brought along in how consumers use social media.

Social media is a must-have to listen to your audience and what consumers are saying. Ads can be effective but only if the creative is done right. Don’t read too much into either report. Instead, ask “how does this affect me and my brand?

The battle over social media marketing