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Fourth Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: Digital Trends for 2012New research about digital marketing trends published today shows that social media engagement is rated as both the top priority and most exciting opportunity for companies this year.

But while the fourth Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, published by Econsultancy in association with Adobe, shows a huge appetite for social media programmes, there is a worrying lack of commitment to investment in associated analytics and measurement. 

Research for this report found that, along with content optimisation, social media engagement is rated as the top priority for digital marketers out of a range of digital-related marketing activities and disciplines.

Asked to indicate their top three priorities for the year ahead, companies surveyed by Econsultancy and Adobe found that these areas will be more important in 2012 than other disciplines including conversion rate optimisation, mobile optimisation and content marketing.

Social media analytics lagged behind in ninth place. 

More than 600 companies surveyed for this report were also asked about the 'most exciting' digital-related opportunities for their organisations in 2012. 

More than half of client-side respondents (54%) said that social media engagement featured among the three most exciting opportunities, way ahead of mobile optimisation (38%) and content optimisation (37%). Again, social analytics is much further down the pecking order, this time in eighth place. 

What are the three most exciting digital-related opportunities for your organisation in 2012? 

While no-one will be surprised that social analytics are not widely seen as being the sexiest element of the social marketing landscape, neglect of this area may explain why many companies are still struggling to justify new hires based on proven upside from social media campaigns. 

The chart below shows that lack of tangible revenue from social media is a key challenge for almost half (48%) of companies surveyed. 

 ‘Social media has added many more programs/goals, but not the revenue to support new hires’

As the report discusses, there are certainly high-profile examples of companies making substantial cost savings and proven return on investment from social media investment.

Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald recently told Wall Street analysts that he was moderating the company’s $10 billion ad budget because digital channels can be “more efficient” than traditional media channels, citing P&G’s Old Spice campaign as an example.

While this campaign’s success wasn’t wholly attributable to social media marketing, it is clear that the social element was fundamental to its massive footprint.

Despite celebrated socially driven campaigns such as the Old Spice example, the chart above suggests that, for many companies, social programmes have so far failed to produce the revenue to support them, let alone produced ROI beyond those investments.

In the briefing, we analyse in more detail why the focus on social media engagement makes sense for most companies (for a range of business objectives), and why this activity needs to be seen as part of a bigger picture with a focus on analytics and attribution.

Linus Gregoriadis

Published 13 February, 2012 by Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis is Research Director at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google+.

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Richard Stacy

Linus,

What do you think people mean by "social media engagement"? What do you mean by this? Do you think anyone has a clear idea of what social media engagement actually is?

over 4 years ago

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Leigh Pinkston

I'm also curious how the respondents would describe social media engagement. It's a term that is often thrown around and people don't necessarily understand the difference between follower or like and true engagment.

over 4 years ago

Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

Hi Richard / Leigh, thanks for the questions / comments.

We didn't define 'social media engagement' within the survey (or the other areas or disciplines mentioned), though I appreciate with hindsight 'engagement' is a nebulous term, as is 'social media'.

From the fact that so many companies say they are prioritising this area, I would surmise that many digital marketers surveyed would interpret this in the most inclusive sense of the term, including any business use of social media to meet marketing, brand-building or customer service objectives.

If we were defining social media engagement, it would probably be along the lines of 'working to increase the depth and volume of relationships with customers and prospects via social channels, for example Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For some this would also include on-site social features (e.g sharing functionality, blogging and ratings / reviews). Any definitions welcome.

For the purposes of this blog post, the main point I'm trying to make is the relative lack of focus from businesses on 'measuring and analysing' compared to the 'doing' ('engaging').

over 4 years ago

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Peter Clarke, Head of Marketing at Pumphouse

Hi Linus,
are you of the opinion that Social Media Engagement is at best ephemeral? Is it anything more than an opportunity to flirt with prospects and catch their eye.

Once 'proper' engagement is established does the relationship take place in traditional channels that people trust.

I hear lots about developing a community but am struggling to see it in reality.
Peter

over 4 years ago

Vikki Chowney

Vikki Chowney, Head of Social at TMW

Hi Peter

It's true that social engagement can take the place of the 'attract' part of the funnel, but there's a lot more to it if you reassess what 'engagement' really means.

This doesn't simply have to represent a conversation, it can also encompass the creation of superfans - which in turn act as your advocates, customer service operators and PR spokespeople. Yes it's difficult to quantify, but it's still incredibly important to a brand. In the case of giffgaff, this equated to cost savings. (Case study here http://www.lithium.com/pdfs/casestudies/Lithium-giffgaff-Case-Study.pdf)

Then there's the R&D aspect. When you have an engaged audience, they are a vibrant channel through which to test products, source feedback and produce better services as a result. Dell's attribution of $6.5m to Twitter (back in 2009 no less, so more by now) was not only because it used trackable links, but also because it used Twitter for this.

Those are just a few examples, and while engagement can be the equivalent of a flirt, smarter brands are approaching it with a longer-term and more valuable approach.

VC

over 4 years ago

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Peter Clarke, Head of Marketing at Pumphouse

Thank you for this, Vikki. I am relatively new to marketing and even newer to SM. I will look at your example with great interest. Regards. PC

over 4 years ago

Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

Hi Peter, not a huge amount to add apart from agreeing with Vikki's points.

Different customers prefer different channels of communication, and there are certainly those who find it natural and easier to communicate via social media.

The mix obviously varies depending on the type of business and customer demographics.

I don't think social media are ephemeral, though we may cease to talk about it as much when it becomes more established and just an integral part of media and business.

Different channels should be seen as complementary rather than discrete ways of communicating or engaging. For example, email can be used to encourage sharing via social media, which might ultimately result in more people signing up for an email newsletter.

over 4 years ago

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Richard Stacy

Thanks Linus,

It sort of confirms my suspicion that no-one has really worked out what social media engagement really is - and in-so-far as we have it tends to be defined through the usage of a particular channel or set of tools, which are seen as being social. E.g. Facebook is a social media tool used for engagement, therefore if I am using it I must also be doing social media engagement.

In relation to the measurement point, I think this is linked to the engagement issue. Because people don't know what type of engagement to create, they don't know what objectives to set and without objectives you can't have effective measurement. Therefore, using the tools in itself often becomes the objective - rather than setting an objective based on what you want to use the tool to create. And, of course, usage of a tool, of itself, is never a sensible objective.

over 4 years ago

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Digital Marketing

Thanks for the Discussion.Very interesting and informative.

about 4 years ago

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