Curious as to why companies are using social media and just how effective are their strategies? We were too. The results of a recent study by Ascend2 called "Marketing Strategy Report: Social Media -- What works in social media marketing and how to make it work for you" indicate that companies are getting more strategic about their social media marketing efforts while embracing elements of content strategy.

Objectives, Limitations and Results of Social Media Marketing

The report, which surveyed 687 business leaders, marketing executives and practitioners from around the world found that improving customer engagement is the most important objective of social media marketing, followed by improving web traffic and increasing sales revenue. However, dealing with staff limitations and the inability to measure ROI provided the most challenging obstacles, followed by lack of effective strategy.


Customer engagement is great. It sounds like fun, but as we know it’s not always easy to do. First and foremost, likes are not engagement, nor are retweets, but it’s a start. What companies have found most effective in helping them best engage customers has been content creation.

Yes, you heard that correctly. Even after all the moaning and groaning about how it’s so hard to create new content, there’s no denying that creating good content helps advance marketing strategies.

Respondents also noted that simple things like using social sharing buttons and creating branded social networks also help, but content overwhelmingly was found most helpful, whether in the form of blogs, video, audio or whitepapers -- content is indeed king. Companies still struggle to create content, especially video and audio, but knowing that it helps reach company goals and engage customers should make the venture worthwhile.

The survey also showed that more companies are finally understanding that it’s not just about creating any old content; it’s acknowledging that in order to reach more customers, companies must increase their efforts to provide timely and relevant content.

Learning Opportunities

It's the Size of the Company that Matters

But social media marketing success is not universal. According to the report, the smaller the company, the more likely it is to consider social media an effective strategy, whereas mid-size companies are more likely to find key social marketing obstacles more challenging and in the largest of companies, administering social network and content sites is clearly more difficult. It turns out it comes down to a company’s ability to measure social ROI and handle staff limitations that can effect their social media marketing efforts.

In a way, it makes sense. In smaller companies, workers wear many hats and may communicate more efficiently than larger organizations who may exist in silos. However, the struggles are still the same. Measuring a return on investment (or influence) is not easy, nor is it easy to have someone be available to manage social media 24 hours a day. But companies are trying to make the best of what they have.

Ascend2 wants to help too, of course. Their research was conducted to help marketers develop a superior strategy for effectively achieving their social marketing objectives. As are a result, Ascend2 developed a handy matrix designed to analyze your company’s social marketing program by applying the questions asked in this research survey, then comparing your analysis to the social media marketing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of companies with a superior marketing strategy.


How does your company measure up? As social media marketing strategies evolve past having a specific social media presence to focusing more on engaging customers with relevant, meaningful experiences, companies are finding that one-size doesn't fit all. As a result, they need to confront their organization's weaknesses and threats so they can better leverage their strengths to provide more valuable opportunities.