I suppose I should begin this post with a clarification that to a large extent I don’t much like the use of social media for marketing purposes.  I should add that this isn’t marketing in the true sense of the word, where companies attempt to understand their customers better and then respond to their need (the epitome of sense and respond).  For that purpose social media is fantastic.  No, I have a bee in my bonnet about the use of social media for advertising purposes, ie when companies populate as many social networks as they can, and push out their content blindly to as many people as they can reach.  It’s taken the old school advertising rules associated with TV advertising and applying them to a social platform.  Not cool.

Anyway, that little grumble out of the way, I was sent a report last night by Awareness Inc about the state of the social marketing industry, so I thought I’d check it out.  Here are a few of the key takeaways from the report.

1. Measurement is still an issue

Finding from the report: The report reveals that 53% of marketers are still doing absolutely no measuring of their social media work at all, with around the same number citing ROI as the key challenge they face.  It’s a poor indictment of what so called marketers are doing, that the primary measures of ‘success’ still consist of the number of fans you have, and the number of visits to your website.

My thoughts: That in itself does not surprise me at all because so much of the ‘marketing’ done on social media remains of a transactional variety.  There are still huge question marks for me as to where social media fits in the buying process, and with last click wins still the predominant measuring technique, it’s perhaps not surprising that social media doesn’t do so well when you are looking solely to drive purchases.  I’ve said many times that if you’re looking to measure ROI on social you have to be smarter about it and bring it all back to a clear purpose for your community.  That purpose should revolve around how you’re going to help community members.  Tie that into a business objective and it makes measurement much more relevant than the usual counting of likes or followers.

2. Marketers want to be everywhere

Finding from the report: Things don’t get any better the more you delve into things.  The report reveals that 66% of respondents want to increase their presence across a wider range of platforms.  To perhaps understand this desire you need to see that almost the same number want to increase the amount of content they push out via social media.

My thoughts: So in other words they’re not building communities at all, they’re just pushing content out to as many people as possible, on as many platforms as possible.  I dare say this shotgun approach will make it even more difficult to determine the ROI they complain about in the previous section, because there is clearly no purpose to their presence on any social network.  It begs the question, why do you have to be on every social network out there?  Last year I provided a 5 checkpoint list you can use before deciding whether to join a new network.  By focusing your efforts on a smaller number of networks, not only do you make it easier to get the purpose right, you therefore make it easier to measure success or not, and you can then go to your boss with evidence of success and demand the resources needed to spread out further (if that makes sense).  You should never feel compelled to use a platform just because it’s there.

All in all its a rather depressing and predictable insight into how so many marketers have failed to grasp just what social media is about.  It’s done little but confirm my view that marketers in their current form are an enemy of social media, as they do so little to add real value to the space.