The survey, which polled more than a thousand U.S.-based marketing professionals, showed that nearly 80 percent of business users are tweeting to create more brand awareness. About 58 percent of respondents said they used Twitter to drive traffic, and 55 percent reported using it to engage existing customers. The response, “Drive sales” was way at the bottom of the list, with less than 25 percent of respondents claiming to use Twitter for that purpose.
The survey’s results indicate that companies find Twitter useful for promoting their image, but don’t look to the microblogging site to be a direct motivator for making sales. In fact, most businesses don’t know quite how to measure the return on their social media investments—”Measuring ROI and results” was the No. 1 challenge companies said they faced on the site. About 45 percent of marketers said measuring ROI was their biggest difficulty on Twitter. Meanwhile, “Building an audience” was also listed as a major obstacle, with 42 percent citing it as a challenge.
This study and other recent analysis highlights the popularity of online brand-building efforts, but it illuminates challenges as well. For example, Coca-Cola recently made waves by stating that its social media engagement has had hardly any impact on its sales. That sounds pretty dire, but Econsultancy’s Patricio Robles notes that Coca-Cola has also made no plans to scale back its large, active social media presence. And as Econsultancy pointed out, many experts will argue that these brand-building efforts have strong long-term impact, even if they don’t create sales in the short term.
Still, Coca-Cola’s experience highlights the challenges for businesses trying to gauge the success of their brand engagement efforts.
“The question for other businesses, particularly those with marketing budgets far smaller than Coca-Cola’s, is just how prominent a role social should play in the marketing mix going forward if it turns out social generally doesn’t drive sales within a relatively short period of time,” Robles wrote.
Regardless, brands are enthusiastic about building their brands online through methods such as social media engagement or content marketing. Despite the challenges, Social Media Marketing University’s study saw most respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Twitter was an effective marketing tool. While it may be difficult to measure return on investment or directly drive sales, few companies are willing to ignore the need to build their brands online.