Painting A More Complete Picture

Two pieces from eMarketer caught my eye last week.  Both have to do with marketers’ usage of social media.  From the first, you might be tempted to short Facebook stock and wonder why Google is spending so much time on G+.  From the second, you might just realize that once again we find that getting beyond a sexy headline and into some facts can help paint a very different picture.

The first piece was all gloom and doom:

Social Media Usage Plateaus Among Marketers

Oh no!  Is this whole sector of the digital economy heading right down the tubes??:

When the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) surveyed US marketers this year, 90% said they were using social networks for their efforts—about even with last year, at 89%. While this percentage has risen dramatically since 2007, when just 20% of marketers used social media, growth has plateaued—and shifted to other new digital media platforms instead.

It goes on to talk about mobile and location-based services.  Of course, it also mentions that the investment in social was $3.63 billion in the US and over $4 billion more in the rest of the world. And that’s just paid ad spending.  Which leads to the other piece, which asks the obvious question:

What Are Marketers Spending on Social Media?

It turns out that:

most marketers have less than 20% of their marketing budget set aside for outreach on social sites—including advertising and maintaining a social media presence…While these percentages may seem small, marketers reported that budgets were increasing. AdAge and Citigroup found that 72.9% of respondents said they expected their overall social media budget to increase over the next year. This is in line with data from Useful Social Media, which, in April 2012, found that 54% of US companies planned to increase their social media budgets by up to 25% in 2012.

If 90% of marketers are, in fact, already using social (and there’s an entire book to be written on how badly most of them are doing so), of course the growth rate is slow – there’s hardly any room to grow.  If nearly 3/4 of them are expanding their budgets, the dollars flowing to social are going to be the envy of many other media.  It’s on the social companies and the marketers’ agencies (and consultants!) to help develop metrics and other criteria to assure and measure success so the investment pays off.

Interesting when we get past the headlines and start asking questions, right?

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