There is a storm of controversy sweeping the digital landscape. Not yet another tweak to the algorithm. There is a growing lack of confidence among CEOs in social media marketing due to concerns over return on investment.
Where Is It Wanted
The London-based Fournaise Marketing Group is an industry leader in marketing performance and management, and in 2012 they released the findings of their Global Marketing Effectiveness Program. Over a thousand chief executive officers and other influential businesspeople from large and small companies in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia were surveyed.
Incredibly shocking findings
The most common sentiment among the business owners we polled was that “marketers are too disconnected from the financial realities of companies.”
Result of study
Eighty percent of CEOs think marketers don’t have a firm enough grasp on the short-, medium-, and long-term financial realities of their companies.
Eighty-eight percent of CEOs believe that marketers fail to focus on their primary responsibility, which is to increase demand for their products and services in a way that can be measured and quantified by the company.
The issues, in the eyes of the company’s top brass, are very clear. Seventy-five percent of CEOs believe marketers misunderstand (and misuse) the’real business’ definition of the words’results,’ ‘ROI,’ and ‘performance,’ and as a result, fail to adequately communicate with their top management. In the words of one disgruntled CEO, “instead of drowning everybody with data and analyses that are too remote from the P&L,” marketers should instead focus on a small number of key performance indicators that directly relate to the levels of customer demand that they are expected to meet.
CEOs in the business-to-business sector expected the following from their social media marketing campaigns:
Because of increased buying interest, businesses have been able to move more inventory, leading to higher sales and profits.
With an increase in demand, sales teams will have a greater number of qualified leads to work with, which means more revenue in less time.
The business heads have expressed their expectations for the marketing departments.
Not a Silent Protest
Alternatively, one can take the study’s findings in a more succinct fashion. The CMOs are
Being demoted means “losing a seat at the strategic table,” as well as a drop in status and a narrowing of responsibilities. These CEOs no longer impose KPOs and KPIs on their marketers because they no longer have faith in their abilities…. Seventy-four percent of CEOs believe marketers put too much emphasis on emerging marketing channels like social media without providing sufficient evidence that doing so will ultimately increase revenue. Sixty-seven percent of CEOs believe that marketers do not think enough like businesspeople because they place too much emphasis on the artistic and ethereal aspects of marketing rather than the hard science behind it. 
The Realm of Truth
In the first place, it’s important to put things in perspective: Roughly one-fourth of the world’s population is active on social media.
Social media is pioneering the development of new markets where brands and products are completely unknown, and this proportion will only increase as more and more countries develop and gain access to technology.
In addition to being an effective means of spreading information, social media is embedded in a complex and ever-evolving process of setting and resetting the expectations of its massive, interactive audience.
Simply put, what does this entail? People’s expectations of businesses’ participation in social media platforms have increased. They expect you to be there for them, but not in a generic way; you have to provide them with content that is both relevant and interesting. It’s important for them to feel connected to the brands they support. They wish to provide comments on the services and goods provided. They expect to be able to trust a brand, which will increase loyalty of brand.
Businesses’ top executives say that social media marketers don’t follow basic principles of economics and management. While this may be true in some situations, the social media revolution is still too new to have made a significant dent in the business curriculum at most universities. Even in areas where progress has been made, the rapid evolution of mobile devices and social media channels has rendered the classroom largely irrelevant.
The Economic Impact of Social Media
Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of social media comes down to proving the direct connection between strategic effort and customer acquisition. To put it simply, we need to look at the numbers:
The expected outcome is reached when the size of the audience is combined with the conversion rate.
General social media advertising conversion rates hover around 1-2% of total audience reached. That means only 2% of people in your target audience will actually follow your link.
Tips for Maximizing Your Success in This Game
Marketing in social media is challenging because you are, in effect, trying to manage a community whose members come and go on a regular basis. The failure to engage is the single most important factor in diminishing reach. Companies using Twitter, for instance, can anticipate losing anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent of their new followers within the first three weeks. If you’re counting on organic shares to spread your message, you might as well play the lottery for your retirement.
Advertising is the most manageable variable influencing exposure. Promotion, however, is dependent on the value of your writing. Advertising motivates a positive response from an audience, and well-crafted content provides the means to engage.
There has never been anything quite like marketing in the social media era. Because it provides benefits beyond monetary revenue, calculating its return on investment can be tricky. Customers’ views on what a company should be and do, as well as their expectations of how they should interact with the businesses they support, have shifted dramatically as a result of the unprecedented changes in communication.