Forrester: Businesses Still Struggle with Social Media

5 minute read
Katie Ingram avatar

customer experience forester social media marketing problems

According to a new report from Forrester, while many companies have added social media to their marketing strategy they aren’t seeing a high success rate.

The report: “Integrate Social into Your Marketing RaDaR,” [purchase required] was written by Nate Elliot, Kim Celestre and Zachary Reiss-Davis with assistance from David Truog and Sarah Takvorian. It uses data from the Q4 2012 US Interactive Marketing Online Survey. The survey was given to 71 United States online and interactive marketers and was conducted between November and December 2012. From the information pulled Forrester looks at why social media isn't working for many businesses and what a possible solution could be.

Social Marketing: An Essential Part of the Marketing Platform

In the past social media was often thought of a way to compliment more traditional forms of marketing, but no longer. Social media and social sites, such as blogs, message boards, Facebook and Instagram are now some of the top ways for businesses connect with customers and advertise products.

According to Forrester, because of this digital move most marketers will use some form of social media this year.97 percent have or plan to use Facebook or Twitter, 92 percent plan to or currently use LinkedIn and 89 percent are considering their own kind of social communication such as a blog or forum.

45 percent of marketers also note that they are increasing their social marketing budget within the next year and will spend around US$ 4.8 billion. Many companies are hiring agencies to help them with their social strategy, while others are regulating more staff into social media positions.

A Problematic Investment

While social media as a marketing tool is becoming more common, Forrester finds that a lot of businesses don’t know how to use it properly. The most common issues marketers say they have is a lack of or no ROI, measurement and a lack of internal resources.

There are even a few big corporations who are failing without realizing it. An example that Forrester uses is Best Buy, its employee engagement initiative and “Twelpforce” Twitter campaign.While this move was critically successful, included positive reviews from the Harvard Business Review and Forrester, and generated a lot of engagement, it didn't generate a lot of sales.

Forrester says the one of the reasons social media marketing fails is because of “Social Exceptionalism” or when marketers treat social media as something other than just another marketing channel. This is done one of three one of three ways. The first is that they separate social media campaigns from other campaigns, making their strategy seem a bit disjointed. 

Learning Opportunities

To make social media work, marketers must stop treating it as something new and different and must look for ways to blend it effectively with TV, search, email and other established marketing channels,” said the report.

The second point is that many marketers, figuratively, put their eggs in one basket by only concentrating on one social channel, like Facebook, instead of using a mix of different social channels. The last point is that while many marketers have moved beyond just tracking fans and followers, they still rely too much on engagement. Forrester says along with engagement, marketers should also be tracking brand impact, conversion rates and other data.

A RaDaR Solution

To help marketers improve their social media skills, Forrester has developed a solution called RaDaR, which has three steps or stages.

The first stage is to use social reach tactics to help consumers discover a company brand or product. This is done through either word of mouth marketing or paid social advertising. Word of mouth or WOM marketing can be done by encouraging fans to leave social reviews or recommendations about the brand or by influencing the influencers. Paid social advertising is done by using the advertising platform provided by social media sites, like Facebook and LinkedIn.

The second level is called social depth tactics and is where potential customers learn about a company and buy its products.While social media is the starting point for much of this consumer-brand interaction, many customers will often look to a company website to see else what it has to offer. A business should make sure that its website has social pages like blogs and forums, customer reviews and a customer service function like an IM chat. These components will show customers that a brand’s dedication to them extends further than its social media pages. 

The last level is made up of social relationship tactics which help improve customer engagement. Most companies may think that once a customer buys an item, its relationship with that customer is finished. This isn't always the case. A business should make sure its customer relationship extends beyond the buying stage by staying in touch with customers through social media, email, postal mail and loyalty programs. These messages should include keeping the consumer update to date on product releases or company developments and product sales.

Final Thoughts

Now that many marketers are using social media on a regular base, they need to re-evaluate their social media strategy. There are four things they should keep in mind when doing this. Marketers should study how the consumer uses social media, create social media business objectives, create a solid strategy and make sure that the technology being used is the best kind for that business.

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