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Social media: every business needs to be using it, that’s a well-known fact. Yet, marketers still face the challenge of knowing what platforms they should be on and where to focus their social media efforts.

It’s safe to say that every business should be on Facebook. This is important for several reasons:

  1. 68% of the world’s adult population is on Facebook.
  2. Over 1.4 billion people log in to Facebook daily.
  3. Facebook has the highest conversion rate of all social media e-commerce.
  4. 85% of all orders from social media come from Facebook.
  5. Facebook has highly targeted ad capabilities including behavior-based marketing.

For many, these numbers may come as no surprise. As some of us know personally (and painfully well), Zuckerberg’s behemoth dominates social media ad spend and fights with Google for the top spot in global digital ad spend. It’s clear that Facebook should probably be part of your digital strategy, but with an increase in popularity comes an increase in cost-per-click and the need for a bigger budget, in order to be seen in such a highly saturated market.

While Facebook has the ability to cast a wide net, your unique content might be better suited on a platform with a higher concentration of specific age groups or demographics – as illustrated in this chart below by Pew Research Center.

social media demographic chart

And while YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter are social media’s biggest players, don’t forget to pay attention to alternative platforms that might serve an even more targeted, or niche, audience. New social media platforms emerge every day, some quicker to catch on than others. So, how do you tell what’s worth investing in? Where are the untapped markets? How do you forge ahead without drowning in the white noise?

The 2017 State of Social Marketing Report released by Simply Measured is a compilation of responses and data from close to 3,000 social marketing professionals across all sized businesses and in positions ranging from analyst to Chief Marketing Officer. According to the study, across individual brands and agencies alike, the biggest challenge marketing faces in 2018 is measuring social ROI. Even if you are standing out, it can be difficult to understand how much or what kind of difference you’re making.

With 58.7% of marketers unsure of the ROI of their social media efforts and 24.4% unaware of how to use social data to inform strategy decisions, there’s no question that we have a problem. On top of the confusion, Simply Measured estimates that by 2020, social media will account for 18.5% of the digital budget. We’re well on our way to upping digital and automation spending costs (we already have), but there’s something backward about knowing exactly where to improve…yet being unsure how.

If social marketing budgeting costs could increase, wouldn’t you like to know how you can maximize ROI?

The difficulty lies in the nature of social media itself. It is a unique, always changing platform. Carefully crafted messages have to fall in the right short-form length to even attract attention; in many ways, short-form posting is much harder than long-form. It’s like auditioning for the X-Factor: You have one chance and you have a limited time to do it or you’re out.

Because of this “one-shot” time-frame and the constant updates of social media platforms, a social media team might be small (almost 1/3 of the companies Simply Measured gathered data from have a social media team of only one person), but they have to be extremely in-tune with their audience.

Social media teams have three distinct needs:

  1. Addressing ROI internally: While 48.8% of agencies report frequent conversations about ROI with their clients, only 36.3% of brands report conversations about social media ROI with their leadership team. And on top of that, 1 in 5 brands are having no conversations about social ROI. While addressing social media as a major contender in marketing is a good first step, there are still roadblocks to getting the engagement rates and ROI of the future. In order to have a truly maximized digital marketing department, sitting down and having the social media strategy conversation with your team is a must, especially since it can reach consumers at every part of the Customer BuyWay.
  2. Developing social media content: Social media professionals from the Simply Measured report listed social content as their top area of focus in 2017. This means the highest priority was not coming up with a strategy to inform posting, but merely to generate content. While in some circumstances this might be a somewhat successful (if ill-advised) approach, social media is not the place to do it. Blind posting without a clear strategy to back it up doesn’t make you stand out, it just makes you blend in with the crowd even more. Strategy alignment must be a priority.
  3. Implementing analytics software: Social media departments list analytics software as the prime resource they don’t currently have that would allow them to do their job better. And as stated in the annual report, “Social analytics is a critical social media practice. The data gathered can be used to inform future business decisions and identify which social investments lead to higher revenue, as well as where (and to what extent) your audience is engaging, sharing, and converting. Without proper software, marketers can only make guesses at the success of their social marketing efforts.”

It’s no surprise that social media has integrated into marketing departments of all sizes, but many have a long way to go to reach full potential and are still learning how to best measure ROI, if they know how to at all. Social media demands interaction at rates we’ve never seen before, requiring a high level of monitoring, adjusting and maximizing. The most important thing to keep in mind is that social media can no longer function in a silo. It needs to be part of an integrated and aligned approach to Systems (or as we define: people, processes, and technology). Don’t be afraid to break down barriers that have previously held firm—social media is a place for taking risks, for better or worse.

If you’re ready for more insights to transform how your customers perceive and interact with your brand – and you want tactical tips to accelerate growth – take a look at our Transformational Marketing ebook for a deeper dive into the Story, Strategy, Systems Methodology.