OK, time to come clean here.
I am getting tired of study after study telling what is the most important outcome to marketers as it relates to social media marketing. The trouble is that it will be a never ending cycle and the answers will always be dependent on who, what, where, when, why and how of the gathering of the data.
That said, one valuable aspect of this continuing ‘research’ is that at least we have a few years under our belts and we can start to see some patterns that are emerging. The latest bit of data comes out of the Pivot Conference and looks at the “State of Social Media Marketing 2012-2013″. You can download the PDF if you would like. The following chart struck me.
While the various categories are interesting what tells the bigger story is the pattern that can be seen as answers over three years change. Take sales as a measure of social media marketing success, for instance.
In 2011, a full 100% of the respondents felt that increased sales was a primary goal of social media marketing for either themselves or their clients. Apparently, expectations and reality collided pretty hard when in 2012 that number crashed to below 50%. This year it has crept back up over 50% to around 56%.
According to the above chart this pattern of high expectations in 2011 and a retreat in 2012 followed by what might be a more realistic rebound in 2013 happened in nearly every response area. So what does that mean? It likely means that our little social media marketing discipline is growing up right before our very eyes (sniff, sniff … I’m getting misty here).
What was once hyped as the generator of all things positive in marketing is now being positioned more appropriately as a channel that can be very effective and needs to work in conjunction with other marketing efforts. It’s a bit of a “Well, duh!” moment in hindsight but as we all go through this transition to the full implications of the social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) web there will be some excitement that will simply give way to reality. The sooner marketers grasp the reality of social media the better their results will be.
What is your read on these numbers? Do you agree? Disagree? Let’s hear your feedback in the comments.