Social media strategy can require years to take root and start generating returns, according to a report from Social Media Examiner. HootSuite’s experts advocate for community targeting that mixes in both short-term and long-term goals and measures performance and trends in a similar way, weighing both short-term gains while examining long-term benefits that are slower to develop.
More than half of marketers surveyed by Social Media Examiner said they used social media for at least two years before that work made an impact on sales.
“Conversely, 49 percent of all marketers taking this survey report that social media has not helped them improve sales,” the report states. “This may be because they lack the needed tools to track sales.”
Improved social media marketing, particularly a focus on long-term goals, may depend on deeper investments into multiple aspects of social strategy. According to a recent report from PR Week, only 16 percent of overall marketing budgets are committed to digital spend, but those budgets are expected, on average, to increase over the next one to two years.
Deeper budgets will be particularly valuable to social marketing, which needs a greater investment and more resource support to thrive over the long-term. Marketers can also gain from greater education into social strategy, including the importance of balancing short- and long-term goals: thirty-four percent of marketers are interested in increased social network strategy education.
Confidence in digital and social ROI is slightly lower than traditional PR methods, by a margin of 72 to 67 percent, but increased education and understanding could create better support and execution for a long-term strategy.
Social media is a critical marketing platform, but it doesn’t exist as an island. To maximize returns both in the short term and over the course of months and years, content has proven a valuable campaign to integrate with social strategy.
As Rebuild Nation’s CEO Josh Gershonowicz explained on The Huffington Post, strong social media ROI comes from two sources: content creation and content sharing.
Content creation requires the staff resources to create original, compelling content on a consistent basis. Content sharing is one way social and content can benefit one another: When both are at their best, exposure is maximized and brand ROI is at its greatest for both separate channels.
Although social media is a slower process for generating ROI, content’s uphill battle is much shorter—creators expect their content to start generating returns quickly. Brands need to use content to support their social media—and vice versa—but marketers should also separate their expectations of both social media and content, understanding that the highest-value metrics are not the same for both channels.
Social media marketing can start generating value right off the bat, particularly in terms of increased brand awareness and customer engagement. More tangible ROI, however, often takes time. Brands and their marketers are wise to balance those short-term goals with more realistic expectations of the long road to a mature social presence.
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