Measurement will look more toward the bottom line

Marketers appear to be inching closer to answering the question of social media ROI—or at least making a serious effort—as the stakes get higher.

eMarketer estimates four out of five US businesses with at least 100 employees will be marketing on social media this year, and US ad spending on social networks is expected to reach over $3 billion. And according to research from Bazaarvoice and The CMO Club, marketers are planning to change the way they measure the effectiveness of those dollars.

Site traffic, which was the top metric for social marketing success in 2010, will still be on top this year. But the No. 2 spot will change hands, as twice as many companies plan to pay attention to conversions. More marketers will measure success with conversions than by tallying fans and followers, positive buzz and a variety of other “soft” metrics. Revenues will see a similar surge in interest.

Metrics Used by CMOs Worldwide to Measure the Value of Social Media Marketing Activities, 2010 & 2011 (% of respondents)

Asked about social media activities with the highest ROI based on older metrics with less of a focus on the bottom line, CMOs were most likely to say they did not know the return from any channel other than their company’s online community. Even Facebook and ratings and reviews, the two top venues with “significant ROI,” failed to win over more than about 15% of respondents.

Social Media Marketing Activity with the Highest ROI According to CMOs Worldwide, Oct 2010 (% of respondents)

It remains to be seen whether CMOs’ evolving focus will lead to a shift in which venues are perceived to be the most valuable, or what other changes might be in store in the social media marketing landscape.

SOURCE eMarketer

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