The Guardian reports results of a recent poll of global senior marketers that found only half of all boardrooms are convinced about social media’s value.
Why? It’s hard to see the value of social if you are not there yourself. According to another survey 64% of CEOs do not use social media at all, with only 5% of all Fortune 500 company CEOs on Twitter. So many marketers, advertising and PR pros are running into road blocks with their social pitches when they reach the executive level.
But those executives said they would use social media more if it were helpful to their business (90%) and if they better understood the benefits (60%). In other words, not understanding the return on investment (ROI) is a main barrier to social media adoption in the boardroom.
However, it may useful to put ROI into the context of other marketing communications with which executives are already comfortable. I can see this ROI question from the perspective of advertising. As an advertising agency, even when we ran TV ads for a client, unless it was a direct response commercial (think infomercial) we couldn’t directly prove ROI.
For example, we would run commercials for a fast food client to generate awareness. Sales of their sandwiches either went up or they went down. Perhaps it was the commercial but there are many other factors that could have caused it. What we did know is reach – how many eyeballs we bought based on TV ratings.
Today we may have a Facebook page and post pictures of the sandwiches. Showing up in the newsfeed of consumers generates awareness. Reach in social can be measured by number of fans, shares, etc. passing the branded sandwich pictures on further. But if some see the post, get hungry and go to the restaurant to buy the sandwich we still don’t have a direct measure of ROI.
I think there is a higher standard of ROI in digital because we have been told and sold on “everything” being measurable online. Yet this simply is not true and we forget that many of the traditional marketing we take for granted doesn’t have a direct line of ROI either.
Marketers and the C-Suite and boardrooms make leaps of faith with traditional advertising all the time. How many millions of dollars were spent by Fortune 500s for 30 seconds during the Super Bowl last year? I think it is just harder with social media because it is so new. That said, there is a lot that is provable like the data in the graph below that shows social media drives more leads than traditional advertising.
Again, It might simply come down to the C-Suite’s lack of personal involvement. It’s easier to understand the influence of a TV commercial on purchase decisions when you watch TV, but harder to see how Facebook could influence a purchase decision when you don’t use it yourself. The bottom line is social media marketing works not because executives are using it, but because the customer is using it.
So in addition to social media strategist, we must also be social media educators. Our job is to help executives understand that the rest of the world is embracing social media to make purchase decisions with consumer products and in business-to-business.
As John Andrews of Collective Bias says, “Recent studies have shown that more consumers are relying on social media to help determine what products to buy. They are using social to research, find inspiration, search for coupons, read reviews, etc. Connecting with potential customers via channels they use and trust most, allows brands to find out pertinent information about their target audience as well as themselves.”
Let’s all start building a case for social media marketing acceptance. How do you combat C-Suite Skepticism of social media?