The appeal of social media marketing might be to spend less money on campaigns, but CMOs across the spectrum in the U.S. are planning to increase their social spend next year. That means you can look forward to a lot more "social media gurus" in 2010, because most Chief Marketing Officers don't have any expectations for ROI next year either.

The study, conducted by social commerce company Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club, queried 133 CMOs in September from industries that include software, finance and insurance, travel and hospitality, media and publishing, consumer goods and retail. The survey found companies that tried out social in 2009 are planning to get more serious in 2010. Almost 3/4 of marketers who didn't attach revenue expectations to social media spending in 2009 will begin doing so in the coming year.

This year, only 36% of companies tracked the impact of social media on conversions, and only 22% on revenue. But about eight in ten (81%) survey respondents said they plan to spend up to 10% of their company's revenues on social media investments next year.

Reports from by GroupM, ZenithOptimedia and Magna Global have all come out recently saying that online ad spending is the only medium with expected growth for this year. And especially within that market, social is looking strong.

It's interesting to see that marketers think they have to grow their budget to grow their returns in social, but they are still having trouble quantifying their output in the space.

About half of those surveyed are unsure about their returns on using social tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and industry blogs. But that doesn't mean they don't want more for 2010. 

Earlier in the life of social media, companies didn't know what to expect from the medium. Back in 2007, it may have been more predictable that ROI wasn't a concern. But as the medium matures, companies have to remember that social is not a cure all for growing business. And unless you know what to expect coming out, there's no end to what you can put in.

That said, companies are getting smarter about tracking their moves in social. It should come as good news that many respondents are tracking social media metrics. Ninety percent of respondents said they track site traffic, while more than eight in 10 said they keep track of page views (85%) and their number of fans (83%). But more importantly, 80% of CMOs use customer insights to shape executive decision-making and 90% of survey respondents use customer stories and product suggestions to shape their brand’s product or services.

Meghan Keane

Published 11 December, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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