Social Media Impact Remains Difficult to Measure for Most Marketers

As marketer use of social media grows, so does the concern over measuring its value. After all, a for-​profit organization cannot justify an expense without showing a benefit that links somehow to revenue. This year, marketers are attempting to measure social media against key performance indicators (KPIs).

According to a new Econsultancy survey, the majority of companies, over 70%, want to measure what they’re getting from their social media activity. But only 1/​3 of these companies can articulate the objective of their social media programs. And, even fewer are actually measuring their results. For the most part, organizations with revenue of greater than $150 million are farther along in formalizing their social media activity. Of those who have social  media programs, at least 38% have objectives and 42% are measuring performance against those objectives.

Two KPIs that marketers obsess over are search engine rankings and brand sentiment. The survey shows that 31% of marketers track improvements in their search rankings as a result of social media activity. And 26% of marketers try to measure brand sentiment changes linked to social media.

These numbers are difficult to calculate with confidence. As a result, marketers are going for the easy-​to-​measure activity like traffic volume on their channels (over 70%) and customer engagement (close to 70%). Only 26% of marketers try to link social media to higher sales and 7% to lower customer service calls. Marketers are far more comfortable talking of social media’s impact on sales in general terms. For example, a survey by Bazaarvoice that came out earlier this year said 75% of CMOs have some confidence that “social efforts are having a measurable impact on sales.”

For now, marketers are still struggling to integrate the social media function into their organizations. Once that problem is solved, the challenge of measuring outcomes may be tackled in earnest.

To learn more about social media users, check out the Audience Interests & Intent reports on Brand Friends+Followers and Foursquare/​Other Check-​In Users on Ad​-ology​.com.


[Source: Managing and Measuring Social. Econsultancy​.com. 2012. Web. 21 Sept. 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.