This month Mark Ritson (@markritson), an Australian professor of marketing, gave an interesting talk at a media forum in Toronto — turning the talk around social media on its head. I would definitely recommend a watch.
Mark wanted to see how important social media was to marketers. So in 2013, when social media spend was about 8% of a marketing budget, Mark examined all the articles in the marketing publications of Australia.
In his research Mark discovered the coverage of traditional to social media was almost 50:50. For every article about print, web, TV, or any other kind of traditional marketing, there was an article about social media. 8% Spend. 50% coverage. Social media was important to marketers. Perhaps too important. We may recognise a similar story in the UK B2B scene today.
So, should marketers be spending more on social media?
Not necessarily. Even though we’ve known social media budgets are on the increase in the UK for some time, the sometimes blind enthusiasm (or should that be obsession) for social media may be steering us off course.
Recent figures from the US illustrate the point. The CMO survey gathers the opinions of 3,000 top marketers, including those in top Fortune 1,000 companies. On social media, the survey’s most recent findings show that B2B spend is expected to grow from 10% to 20% over the next five years. And yet in the same survey, over half of those same marketers admitted they could not show the impact of their social media efforts. Over 50 per cent.
Now if I said to you, look I’ve got this great new jogging gadget. You wear it while you run and it helps monitor your speed. Thing is I’m only half sure it works, so I’m going to double up my spending. I’m going to buy all the apps and add-ons, because I’m convinced that’ll help me do better on my 10k run.
In all likelihood you would have a few questions for me. So why is it any different in business? Why buy something if you don’t know it works?
B2B Marketing Magazine reported an estimated $38bn of wasted marketing budgets worldwide due to poor performance of digital marketing, all because of the inability to measure its effectiveness.
So here’s the rub. This enthusiasm for social is understandable and unstoppable. Just as Mark showed, this rise in spend happening in Australia, it’s happening in the US, and it’s happening here in the UK.
But don’t be deceived by the frenzy. There are good reasons to use social, but you need to ask important questions first, or you could end up wasting money that would be better spent elsewhere. My point is not ‘don’t do social media’. But before jumping in, make sure social media is right for your brand, and if you do start, always analyse your returns before continuing or increasing your investment.