Actually, you probably will. Here we are, a good ten years or more into the social media era, and apparently we still can’t figure out whether social media advertising actually accomplishes anything, and if so, what.
Yes, that perennial favorite -- return on investment -- is still the single biggest challenge facing the social media advertising business, according to a survey of 600 social media marketers conducted by TrustRadius on behalf of SimplyMeasured. “Measuring ROI” was cited by an overall total of 60% of marketing professionals across small, medium and large companies as their biggest challenge. Significantly, veteran marketers were actually more likely than newbiews to identify this as their biggest challenge.
Not far behind, in second place at 50%, was “tying social activities to business outcomes” (which is just another way of stating the problem, as far as I can tell). Further down the totem pole of complaints were familiar challenges including developing social media strategy (48%), obtaining enough internal resources (40%), tracking results in a centralized dashboard (32%), keeping up with the ever-changing array of social networks (27%), and integrating different social tools (20%).
Returning (as always) to the issue of ROI, many marketers surveyed by TrustRadius indicated that they were using the same collection of imprecise, and possibly meaningless, proxy metrics as they were a few years ago, with 80% citing “engagement” as reflected in number of likes, followers, shares, and so on. By contrast just 24% were tying social media efforts to revenue outcomes. In terms of goals, 71% of social media marketers said their main aim was driving brand awareness.
Of course, as the study points out, many of the issues cited above are interconnected. Most notably, the inability to measure ROI makes it much harder to convince key decision makers to allocate sufficient resources to social media -- including budget that might go towards figuring out the ROI issue, creating a Catch-22 dynamic that is difficult to break out of.In February I wrote about a survey of 288 CMOs by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, in which 45% said they haven’t been able to show social media’s impact on their companies’ performance at all, and another 41.8% said they have a qualitative sense but no quantitative impact. A mere 13.2% believe they have proved the impact quantitatively.