According to a recent survey on what to expect concerning next year’s social marketing activity, the key to return on investment (ROI) must come from internal, not external metrics, an eMarketer report indicates. eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports annually.

ROI has long been an issue with social media marketing, with marketers facing the ongoing challenge of how to determine ROI regarding their use of social media. While there are numerous metrics available, ROI remains among the very top concerns marketers say they face with social media. In fact, a June 2014 study conducted by Gigaom and Extole of marketers’ usage and attitudes concerning digital marketing revealed that:

  • More marketers indicated that they planned on increasing their spending on social media marketing compared to all other types of marketing.
  • Some 52 percent of marketers surveyed indicated that ROI was difficult to prove.

The researchers concluded that, based on these findings, “marketers may be buying on faith with social.” eMarketer noted that this position is likely precarious given the growth in social platforms and the rapidly growing ways in which to reach consumers.

The solution, explained eMarketer, is to concentrate on internal metrics and measures of success, not on external metrics. A number of industry leaders provided advice:

  • Increase the level of sophistication: “The stats that are available in social platform analytics tools are great, and they’re really useful for optimizing campaigns, but that’s a long way from demonstrating business value. We as an industry have to be more sophisticated in the way that we understand our clients’ business objectives, apply them to the social space and develop metrics that tell something useful.”—Marshall Manson, Ogilvy & Mather
  • Understand the importance of “earned impression”: “There are media-mix models that say a paid impression is worth ‘x’ and [that marketers should] move the needle this way. What about an earned impression? There’s a huge gaping hole in the industry in that the media-mix measurement companies have not advanced nearly enough in incorporating earned media into their models. If you don’t value earned impressions, guess what? It’s going to incentivize an overweighting in paid media.”—Bryan Wiener, 360i
  • Obtain multiple stakeholders’ input: “It requires a lot of collaboration with your clients and their research departments, their analytics departments and their sales teams to determine what certain behaviors and activities are worth. If you’re an automotive brand, what is a test drive worth? Or what is it worth when someone visits your website and finds the phone number to a dealership? I think we’re finally starting to see these attribution models mature.”—Joe McCaffrey, Huge

Some nine out of every 10 United States marketers indicated that they do use social media marketing and believe that social marketing is critical to the ways in which they conduct their business. Meanwhile, the same marketers also say that they remain unclear about what is and is not effective and the best ways in which to manage social media marketing, the eMarketer report, entitled “Social Marketing Update: Eight Trends to Help Prepare for 2015.” indicated.

The number of U.S. companies utilizing social media for marketing purposes has steadily risen and is expected to continue to rise, according to eMarketer:

  • 2013: 87 percent
  • 2014: 88 percent
  • 2015: 89 percent (anticipated)
  • 2016: 89.5 percent (anticipated)

For firms with more than 100 employees, social media includes what eMarketer described as use of any of the “proprietary public-facing social media tools,” for the firms’ marketing activities. These social media tools include (but are not limited to):

  • Applications
  • Blogs
  • Micro-blogs
  • Photo-sharing
  • Podcasts
  • Ratings
  • Reviews
  • Social gaming
  • Social networks
  • Video-sharing
  • Virtual worlds
  • Widgets
  • Wikis


eMarketer; Social Marketing 2015: The Key to ROI Will Come from Within; October 17, 2014.