Insights from Gartner's Social Marketing Survey

Insights from Gartner's Social Marketing Survey author Webmaster1 On: 04/01/2013 Views: 42



On the heels of publishing Gartner’s marketing spend survey comes another on social marketing.  A promotional piece, Gartner’s 2013 Social Marketing Survey Finding: Content Creation Fuels Social Marketing, is available to all.

Unlike the marketing spend survey, which was multiple choice, we conducted the social marketing survey using old fashioned social techniques.  Talking.  We held one-on-one interviews with 50 large companies, already with a social marketing initiative in place.  The diversity in comments is astounding, especially across industries and level of investment.  It correlates well with the data from the marketing spend survey published March 12′th.  Here is a table from the spending survey, showing social marketing as a percentage of the digital marketing budget.


Social Marketing












Look at the differences!  The media industry spends the largest share of its digital marketing budget on social marketing, while the social share in high-tech industries is less than half that of media.  For high-tech, search marketing spend ranks first and social marketing is last.  We expect growth in social marketing across all industries, but there are barriers in the way as companies and whole industries still work to determine how to reach their customers and support corporate goals.

First the good news.  The survey shows almost 40% are driving leads from social marketing and about the same percentage sees analytics as a top investment priority for their social marketing programs.  This balance of investments can be the catalyst of a virtuous cycle.  The more you measure, the more you know what works – and that justifies more budget towards efficient and effective actions.  More, more, more, for less.  That’s music to your CEO’s ear.

What about the 60% that are not trying to driving leads or not treating analytics as a top future investment?  The interviews revealed that many focus their social effectiveness measurements more on awareness and customer service than for driving leads.  These companies are gathering social metrics, such as Likes and Retweets, but not yet looking at social channels as part of the path to commerce.

Is it just a matter of time, or is social selling not relevant for some segments of the market?  We saw similar sentiment 15 years ago, when the Web was young, and today there are many that under use their web presence as part of the sales process.  The same will likely occur with social selling, but like happened with the Web, we expect a great awakening and rapid adoption and integration of new techniques that drive customers closer to purchase.  I wonder when we will see the tipping point.  We may already be past it.  Lots of organizations have figured out how to use social conversations to drive business, and there is rapid innovation in lead management and selling technology; even while processing transactions on social sites is still a non-starter.  Gradually, the pressure to catch-up will increase for those standing by the pool or just wading around as the social selling race is under way.

In another angle from the survey, we see a strong trend to use external service providers, like agencies or analytics outsourcers for the whole social marketing process; content development, publishing and reporting.  Even strategy in some cases.  As this trend grows, we are seeing more providers entering this service market and stepping up to the 24×7 brand engagement cycle.  Just today (3/27), there was a New York Times article about the Madison Avenue agency, McCann Erickson New York, expanding its social media division staff to 30 and renaming it “McCann Always On”.  While some companies still say the brand dialogue is too precious to allow it to live with an agency, social marketing demands are high, and some agencies are ready to absorb the impacts. It is still early days though.  Scope, quality and cost varies across agencies, but the survey shows quite a few are satisfied with their outsourcing choices.

If your organization is among those spending a below average percentage of your digital marketing budget on social marketing, follow this line of questioning.

  1. How does your organization’s priority of social marketing compare to your industry peers.
  2. Are your company and marketing executives promoting or inhibiting social marketing?  If there is a gap in budget to where your industry peers are, what will convince the executives to invest properly?
  3. How do you measure a return on social marketing?  How does your analytics help you optimize your social activities?  If the answers are “not well”, the catalyst you need is evident.
  4. Can the agencies and consulting firms you work with today provide a boost into a proper orbit of social marketing?  If not, given your corporate culture, will it be faster to build the skills internally or look externally?
  5. How long can you afford to wait – and will you be able to ramp up quickly enough when the time to catch-up comes?

Gartner’s social survey is available to Gartner for Marketing Leaders clients with seven findings, but the comments from the interviews are more colorful than charts can reveal.   We encourage a dialog here on this blog posting and look forward to one-on-one discussions during client inquiries.  The social marketing gap is widening for those that are sitting on the sidelines or only have a toe stuck into the social water.  For those already in the race, there are new landmarks, and a few sharks, to come.  For those holding back, don’t wait too long.





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