On My Mind

Social Media Skeptics Harder to Find

Popularity increases despite a lack of convincing ROI.

March 12, 2013

Social media has evolved into an increasingly important avenue for marketing interactions between companies’ brands and their audiences, according to a study from researchers BtoB.

About 32% of marketers were “very” or “fully” engaged in marketing via social media channels in 2012, compared with 21% in 2011, according to “2012 B2B Social Media Marketing: A Surge in Adoption.”

For 2013, the study projects 53% of marketers will be “intensely” engaged in social media marketing, with 97% of all marketers involved with social media to some degree.

Despite this “jump on the bandwagon” effect, many marketers remain skeptical of social media. These doubtful marketers say “show us the money,” seeking some concrete return on investment (ROI). But a convincing ROI just isn’t there.

Proponents of social media say it has “soft ” marketing attributes, implying it’s difficult to do a “hard” cost/benefit analysis of social media.

As recently as 2011, nearly half (46%) of marketers surveyed said the channel wasn’t worth pursuing. In 2012, that number had dropped to 35%.

About 70% of marketers surveyed said their top goal for social media marketing was branding, followed by website traffic gains (58%), product promotion (56%), search engine optimization (45%), and competitive intelligence (45%).

To achieve these goals, marketers say the “big three” social sites are LinkedIn (83%), Twitter (80%), and Facebook (79%). These outlets top YouTube (60%) and blogging (50%) as the social media channels marketers use most oft en.

Companies that use Facebook generally are trying to respond to inquiries from their fans, and they’re trying to do so more quickly, according to research from Socialbakers.

On average, companies answered 55% of the questions from their Facebook fans during the fourth quarter of 2012, up from 48% in the third quarter and 30% in the second quarter. Those increases occurred even as the volume of questions posted on Facebook brand pages increased 26% between the second and fourth quarters of 2012.

Companies are responding to these questions more quickly. The average time for a company to respond to a Facebook query fell to 13.7 hours in the fourth quarter of 2012, down from 19.5 hours in the third quarter and almost 21 hours in the second quarter.

Leading the way among companies with a Facebook presence are airlines and finance/banking brands. Airlines responded to 74% of questions posed by their fans in the fourth quarter, up from 55% six months earlier. Finance/banking brands were second with a response rate of 72% (up from 46% in the second quarter). 

STEVE RODGERS is editor-in-chief of Credit Union Magazine.