Blind faith in social media marketing?

LIsa Vitale marketing GuruBlind faith in social media marketing?

 It seems as though everybody in marketing intuitively knows that social media is where it’s at if you want to be on the leading edge of the digital economy. But as an AdAge analysis of the latest CMO Survey shows, while they’re increasing the percentage of budget allocated to social media, many marketers are apparently doing so in the absence of hard evidence that it’s having an impact.

Only 15% of CMOs said they have been able to prove the impact quantitatively of social media, while 43.5% said they have a good qualitative sense of the impact, but not quantitative impact,” writes AdAge’s Kate Maddox. “And 41.5% of marketers have not been able to show any impact yet from their social media efforts.”

Within five years, social media will soak up 23.8% of marketing budgets, up from 10.7% now.

That’s a lot of money being spent, essentially on blind faith! It makes one wonder why marketers are so willing to shoot blindly and how they could get a better return for those dollars.

Kevin Lee at Buffer notes that while “there are no dollar signs dangling from retweets or likes” social media marketing is “potentially a zero-dollar investment because “Twitter, Facebook, and others are no-cost marketing channels to join…” Lee offers up his formula for measuring social media ROI and provides links to some great resources. But his calculations still have sort of a “back of the envelope” feel.

Now, there’s no arguing the explosion in social media usage is phenomenal. Tom Pick at Business2Community offers up 20 eye opening “stats and facts” with perhaps the most revealing being that “55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media.”

Shea Bennett at AdWeek’s SocialTimes also offers up some compelling stats guiding B2B marketers’ faith in social media marketing: “Did you know that more than nine in ten business to business (B2B) marketers say that increased exposure is the number one benefit of social media? Increased traffic (80 percent), the development of loyal fans (72 percent) and marketplace insights (71 percent) were also cited as major perks.”


HeartStill, these are warm and fuzzy justifications as opposed to hard and fast measurements.

Now, undoubtedly, some companies out there are probably quietly sitting on some dynamite analytics conclusively proving the ROI of social media. But, unfortunately, they’re not sharing it with the 85% of the CMO Survey participants who are either following their instincts or just following the herd.


For most companies, B2B social media marketing is still very much at the experimental stage. Every organization should be getting its feet wet, but deciding how much budget to devote to social and figuring out exactly how it fits within the broader marketing portfolio is still a very inexact science.

“It’s called a marketing mix for a reason, and no ingredient (especially social media marketing) should be set aside,” notes Ben Green at Oktopost, who offers some ideas on how to integrate social with other components of your arsenal.

In the B2B market, social is often another side of search. And as Lee Odden at TopRank Media Marketing writes, “Remember, content is the reason search began in the first place.  Take an optimized approach to incorporating search, social media, publicity and influencers with your content marketing programs.”

Good content establishes trust with your prospects. Creating good content that forges such trust requires understanding specific pain points and challenges being experienced by the individuals that fit your target profile. Prospect surveys provide that understanding and can help you shape content that will deliver solid results in your social media marketing efforts. Read these case studies on how SimplyDIRECT clients are leveraging survey results to achieve their marketing goals.