CMOs Still Struggle To Define, Demonstrate Social Media ROI

It’s no secret that in late 2013, social media is now a staple of just about every business and brand’s marketing and advertising campaign.

What does remain a mystery, however, is just how to define and demonstrate ROI when it comes to social media endeavors and outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

This is frustrating for everyone involved, of course. Businesses and brands want to know that the money, time and energy they’re pouring into social media marketing efforts are, indeed, paying off. And digital marketing and advertising agencies want to assure those clients and partners that they know what they’re doing when they recommend, create and place those social media campaigns.

This is not just a concern for American-based companies, either. After all, the Internet is a truly global phenomenon and a universal, window-less, wireless, 24/7 marketplace.

In a recent article on the online home of Australia-based CMO, it was revealed that a recent survey of Chief Marketing Officers (aka CMOs) found that “just 15 percent could qualitatively illustrate the ROI impact of social media on their business.”

The blog post went on to cite The CMO Survey of 410 U.S.-based chief marketing officers, which found that “49 percent are not yet able to show the impact of social media on their business, while 36 percent have a purely qualitative sense of its influence. Just 15 percent have proven the impact quantitatively.”

According to the blog post, 14.5 percent of The CMO Survey’s 410 respondents also said social media is “not at all integrated” with their company’s marketing strategy, and just 8.2 percent claimed social media was “very integrated.” When asked to gauge the level of that integration on a scale of 1 to 7, the highest percentage of respondents – 23.8 percent – rated social media’s integration into their marketing efforts at a “5” level.

Another recent blog post, this one on the online home of Forbes, also discussed the very real challenge of defining and demonstrating ROI on social media marketing efforts, once again citing The CMO Survey, which was conducted and authored by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. This particular post further highlighted the mounting pressure that is facing CMOs and digital advertising agencies on this matter, with the author opining:

“Not surprisingly, in a Big Data-driven era, that lack of clarity is coming under increased scrutiny; 66% of respondents say their boards and CEOs are tightening pressure to measure ROI.”

Yet another recent blog post, this one on MediaPost Publications’  The Social Graf, also highlighted this issue and The CMO Survey report, opining that The CMO Survey offered “good news and bad news for social media marketing.”

The “good news” referred to was another bit of data revealed by The CMO Report: survey respondents said they expect social media marketing’s share of overall marketing budgets to rise from a current average of 6.6 percent to 9.1 percent over the coming year – and 15.8 percent over the next five years.

The post then goes on to cite the aforementioned “bad news,” which it sums up nicely in the following manner:

“On the negative side, nobody seems quite sure what they’re achieving with (social media marketing).”

What are your thoughts on this matter? As a marketing officer, digital agency owner or employee, or simply an avid social media user and consumer, how would you suggest we measure ROI when it comes to social media marketing campaigns?

Let us know. We’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on this matter in the comments section below.

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