I saw the results of an Ad Age survey recently that contained some information about budget allocations to social marketing campaigns. Nearly 50% of respondents said their budgets designated for social marketing represented less than 10% of the overall marketing budget.
Let’s assume that part of the reason for this low allocation is the fact that social channels carry little to no overhead. They’re really inexpensive to do. A brand’s major investments in social would revolve around human capital that knows how to do it correctly and to maximum effect. Amazingly, far too many brands further keep it all on the cheap by placing a nearby intern in charge of their social community management, if not their social strategy in total.
Apart of from skilled social human resources, the other investment to be made in social would be social ads. Here, the battle rages on. GM very publicly pulled its advertising from Facebook, with a sweeping declaration that they don’t work. Facebook responded by saying they were simply not willing to give GM ad units, such as landing page takeovers, that they wanted in an effort to protect the overall user experience.
The Ad Age survey tells us that while close to 86% of respondents are currently using Facebook for marketing, 55% are buying ads on it. 96.6% think their Facebook ad budget will increase or stay the same. They’re particularly showing interest in advertising on mobile. Some conflicting messages there, right? But what’s clear is there doesn’t seem to be a force compelling brands to take budget dollars away from traditional and other digital media and reallocate it toward social. Why not?
Fortunately for this particular blog, Ad Age came right out and asked the question, “What is the key issue holding social budgets back?” The dominant answer from most respondents was a lack of clear understanding as to how social drives users to an actual sale. When it comes to that, just over 19% said they “don’t know” if Facebook is useful. In other words, it’s being pinned on data and analytics, or at the very least, an inability to use existing analytics to tell a satisfactory ROI story.
But something is amiss. Asked if they were satisfied with the level of data returned by Facebook, 71% said “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied.” And that’s not even counting deep dive analytics offered by third party social technology platforms that go above and beyond what’s offered by Facebook Insights. So if the data is available and the marketing professionals surveyed are dominantly satisfied with what they offer, is it really ROI that’s stopping brand executives from investing in social?
Or could it be something else, something more latent and unspoken? 72% consider their Facebook content efforts and ad strategies to be connected. They’re right. Since Facebook ads are essentially content that gets additional exposure fueled by paid media, content is the driver of both earned and paid where social is concerned.
So at least consider the possibility that it’s a lack of belief that they can come up with or acquire enough quality content that’s really at the root of what holds brands back from committing more than they are to social. If that’s true, and I’ve had enough social marketers tell me that it is, the content issue is the looming elephant in the room that’s restraining social marketing as a whole. Maybe it’s time we talked about it more openly.
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