There have been significant shifts in our world of communications over the last 10 years, many of which have been documented in our Edelman Trust Barometer and Earned Brand Studies. In case we didn’t know it before, the age of top down, one-way communications strategies is well and truly over - brands now need to work harder to earn positive relationships, behaving in a way that is meaningful, memorable, and beneficial to their audience. One of the major catalysts for this change has been the meteoric rise of social media and its profound impact on our behaviour and society in general.
To better understand how Irish marketing professionals are embracing these changes, and what social media investment and strategy decisions they’re making, we’ve been tracking their views for the past three years. The online study, in partnership with the Marketing Institute of Ireland, which has captured responses from hundreds of marketing professionals across a wide range of disciplines and varying organisation sizes, looks at several key areas:
1) The importance of social media to their business and how they have integrated it with traditional activities
2) The ability to track and measure effectiveness and return on investment
3) Platform usage and investment plans
4) The role of paid social
5) The use, credibility, and ethics of influencers
6) The rise of video and real-time marketing
7) Crisis preparedness
Here’s a snapshot of this year’s key results:
So, what have we learned over the last few years is that:
1) Social is now more integrated and receives more investment than ever before. 99 percent of respondents now see it as being important to their business up from 91 percent in 2015 with the same figure (99 percent) having integrated social into traditional activities (compared with 82 percent in 2015).
2) There has been a significant improvement in terms of setting KPIs, tracking these metrics and translating that into a read on ROI. 34 percent of this year’s respondents said they can measure ROI and a further 54 percent that they can measure the ROI on at least some areas – a significant rise from our study three years ago when 51 percent said they couldn’t measure ROI. Similarly, 55 percent now claim to have set KPIs, versus the 45 percent who said they did in 2015.
3) Facebook is still the major player in town but platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are also seen as having a key role. 47 percent highlight Facebook as the single most important platform for their business with a further 22 percent choosing LinkedIn and 21 percent selecting Twitter – this compares with 36 percent for Facebook, 24 percent LinkedIn and 31 percent for Twitter in 2015.
4) There is an understanding that social has become pay to play and investment decisions are being made to back this. This year, 73 percent of survey respondents stated that they will increase paid spend on social this year compared to 70 percent last year.
5) With all the hype around social media influencers it is interesting to note that there has been a drop off in the perceived influence of the influencers. Less than 35 percent Irish marketers intend to increase their work with influencers in 2017 whereas in 2016 52 percent had indicated that they would increase the use of influencers. Whilst it’s impossible to know for definite what is driving this apparent turn away from influencers, our own experience would suggest that there is a serious misunderstanding of this world and how to use influencers effectively.
6) Unsurprisingly video continues to witness a phenomenal rise with 92 percent indicating that they will increase their use of video this year, possibly reflecting its strong performance across all social platforms and technology advances which have made it much more accessible and economical.
7) Real-time marketing on the other hand has fallen a bit from its previously dizzy heights with 55 percent of those surveyed saying that they don’t intend to invest more in real-time initiatives.
8) Rather surprisingly crisis preparedness is an area which has not improved over the last few years, with 22 percent still viewing themselves as being unprepared versus 19 percent three years ago. Despite this concern and recent high profile brand crises, 88 percent of respondents still don’t intend on undergoing crisis simulation exercises.
The survey gives us some things to consider in our ever-evolving world. It’s clear that the role of social media in our marketing and communications will continue to rise but as we publish even more content to add to the infinite amount already in existence the question remains – how do we get cut through in this sea of content?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darragh Rea is a Director at Edelman.