Social Marketers Don’t Walk The Talk

Survey shows inconsistency in intent versus execution for marketers

by Jason Falls |

Brand and agency marketers don’t see social media marketing as a lead or sales generation channel, don’t spend much money on it but insist that it’s an integral part of the marketing and business mix. Those are my early takeaways from Adobe’s Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing on Managing and Measuring Social produced by Econsultancy.

Certainly, charts and graphs can be misleading when not spending ample time cross-tabbing the data and checking this angle and that, but here are the survey results of over 650 marketing professionals, a nearly even distribution of agency and brand-side and B2C/B2B, that helped me to that assertion:

When asked what are the top roles for social within the organization, lead generation was fifth and sales was seventh in the pecking order with awareness taking the top role. Only 13 percent of client-side marketers say social is used for lead-gen. Only four percent of them say sales is the top role. Agency-side marketers were only two percentage points higher.

Social Media Roles - Econsultancy Survey

When asked how much is spent annually on social media marketing activity, 60 percent of businesses that generate less than £100 million (in British pounds – more on U.S./UK demographics in a second) and 25 percent of businesses that make more than that spend less than £5,000 per year on social media. Only seven percent of the under £100 million and just 40 percent of the over £100 million crowd spend more than £50,000 annually.

The survey respondents included just over 50 percent from the United Kingdom but 32 percent were from the U.S., making it quite relevant on both sides of the big pond.

Despite the supposed lack of budget and focus on bottom-line business metrics from these marketers and their companies, more than two-thirds say social media marketing is integral to their marketing mix and the business strategy of their companies. For the less than £100 million crowd, 73 percent say it’s integral to the marketing mix and 75 percent say it’s an important part of business strategy. For the larger set, the numbers are 67 percent and 66 percent, respectively.

You should read more into the report (as am I in the coming days) by buying your own copy. It’s available at Econsultancy. The full price is $400. You can get samples from the report for free, however.

My question is how can this be? How can so many marketers claim social is such an important part of what they do, but not support it financially and not focus on direct business implications as a result? Are we just at that adolescent phase of social media marketing where the intent doesn’t match the execution? Are C-Level decision-makers (or the marketers themselves) just paying lip-service to social but not supporting it financially?

I’m aware that the lead-gen and sales question is a bit muddied. But if marketers are going to spend resources and time on social shouldn’t they prioritize the roles that put social outcomes that drive bottom-line business metrics as the top priority?

I’ve got a lot more thinking and reading to do on this report — and thanks to Adobe and Econsultancy for sharing it with me — but I’m interested in your take. The comments, as always, are yours.

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).