As you go about planning your digital marketing strategy for 2019, it's worth considering the latest trends and shifts in social media budgets – which platforms businesses are spending the most money on, where they're seeing the best returns and how the lessons they’ve learned have changed their approach in each respect.
To help with this, we recently conducted a survey within the Social Media Today community to get some perspective on the latest key trends, and the experiences of digital marketers within our ever-shifting online landscape. Over 500 social media marketers responded to our survey, providing relevant insight and perspective into a range of different factors.
You can download a full overview of the report here, but over the next week, we’re going to break down each element and look at what the results mean, where future opportunities lie, and how you can, and should, be building this into your strategy.
We’ve broken the results down into four sections:
- The key social media channels of focus for marketers in 2018
- Where brands are planning allocate their ad budgets in 2019
- What are the key goals digital marketers are now focused on
- What organizational challenges marketers face in achieving success
There are some key insights here for any businesses looking to improve its digital marketing performance – in this post, we cover the last part of our analysis of our survey results, which will hopefully help you chart a course for improved performance moving forward.
Part 4: Organizational Challenges
For the final element of our 2018 Social Spending Survey, we asked our audience for insights into how they manage social within their organizations, and what challenges they face in doing so.
First off, to get a better handle on the current state of play, we asked: ‘Who manages your social advertising?’
Most companies are keeping social in-house – which makes sense, as that then better enables them to control the message, and embed social as part of their brand make-up and process.
Over time, the reliance on consultants has reduced, as digital literacy has become more commonplace, and businesses have sought to add in various elements from across the business, making social more aligned to their broader messaging. Consultants can, of course, help in this regard too, but ownership has become much more important, especially in regards to employee advocacy and building a social approach into your day-to-day dealings.
That approach really is key – as noted in the previous post, in looking to showcase brand values and connect with your online community, it’s important that your brand's social media presence is not a billboard, but that it’s actually an extension of your business culture and beliefs. That’s easier to do through an in-house team, though it does also require more specific investment. The benefits, however, are likely to be more aligned with your broader goals – both internal and external.
Interesting to note, we also asked our audience whether social media has support at the executive level within their organization/s. And while the vast majority of respondents (74%) indicated that it does, there’s still some 26% who don't feel they have executive buy-in, showing that it remains something of a perceptual challenge.
Definitely, for some, social has failed to deliver on its promise of immediate increases in sales and conversions, but again, as highlighted in the previous post, the focus of social in this regard is changing. It’s not primarily a sales-driving channel for most marketing efforts. Paid ads are different, and promotional posts can always be a part of your mix, but the real benefits of social lie in building community around your business - sharing relevant insights and information to showcase your expertize, and expanding your audience through connection.
That’s not as impressive as what many would have hoped, so the lingering skepticism around social media marketing is not unexpected. But it’s illogical at this stage.
There are close to three billion social media users worldwide, conducting a wide range of activities on these connective platforms, and spending a heap of time within such apps. If your brand is not present, you’re missing out, simple as that.
You may need to re-frame your expectations around what social media marketing can provide, but dismissing the medium out of hand is no longer acceptable. You are missing out if you’re not tapping into such opportunities.
Among the more specific challenges reported by our community relating to social media marketing, understanding algorithms remains a key pain point, as does the contradictory nature of analytics, platform-by-platform, and what they all mean. This shows that there’s still a need for the platforms themselves to provide more education on how they can link their analytics data to bottom line results – though again, as noted, the re-alignment as to what businesses should expect from social media performance need to also be taken into account in this regard.
In terms of algorithms, the platforms aren’t able to explain each element of their process in detail, as that would help scammers find loopholes to cheat, but the basics remain focused on engagement. If you can produce content that your audience is receptive to, which relates directly to your brand, then you’ll be on a winner, as that’s what the platforms want – people spending more time in their apps, engaging with more content, remaining more active.
There’s no magic wand here, you can’t just ‘do these specific things’ and see your Facebook reach climb to what it once was. But through targeted, strategic posts, designed to better connect with your ideal audience, and deliver what they want, you can develop your community. And that will lead to significant benefits.
Business users are starting to understand this. As noted previously, we're moving into the next evolution of social media marketing, where there’s a more clear understanding and expectation of the medium. That’s reflected in our survey results, and as social platforms continue to evolve, that understanding will enable businesses to not only build better relationships with their audiences, but also establish more direct lines of communication - and conversion - based on connection, as opposed to up-front advertising.
You can download the full Social Media Today State of Social Spending Report here.