Two separate reports on social media marketing were released this week with – on the surface, at least – what seem like diametrically opposite results.
According to the 2011 Industry Report from Social Media Examiner, 90 percent of more than 3,000 Web marketers say that social media is an important facet of their business today. Brand exposure was identified as the greatest benefit, with 88 percent of respondents citing it as a positive result of their social media campaigns.
Increased website traffic is another benefit (remember this when you get to the next paragraph), with 72 percent of the marketers claiming they gained traffic and subscribers through their social media efforts. Another advantage named by a high percentage of marketers was improved search rankings, gaining a 62-percent share of the response.
Then we have the research released by ForeSee Results, which states that, on average, less than 1 percent of website visits come directly from a social media URL. ForeSee surveyed 300,000 consumers on more than 180 websites across multiple industries to come up with that number, which sounds like an awfully poor return on a company’s investment of both time and resources.
Or is it? The ForeSee report also pointed out that while only 1 percent of visitors are coming to websites directly from social URLs, an average of 18 percent of visitors report being influenced in some way by a social media campaign, indirectly sending them to that site. That company’s ROI just got a whole lot better.
That's one of the challenges facing social media marketers right now, and why handfuls of companies are searching for the best solutions to accurately assess a business’ social media ROI.
It is also why marketers have to look deeper at the analytics they do have when dealing with social media than they would for most of their other campaigns – or take their focus off some of the analytics they rely on most.
Even though we have been hearing about it and using it for several years now, social media is still very much an enigma. But most will agree, like 90 percent of those responding to the Examiner report mentioned above, that it is in fact an effective tool for their business.
How about your business? Has social media helped, or do you feel like you are spinning your wheels on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the rest? Please let us know in the comments section below, or cast your votes on our Facebook page.