Survey: More Money for Social Media, ‘Moderate’ Confidence in Value

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Brands still love social media. But some of them have a hard time explaining why. 

According to the latest CMO Survey, spending on social media is still robust, representing 13 percent of marketing budgets. Or higher in some cases: If a company makes more than 10 percent of its sales online, it usually spends twice as much on social.

That 13 percent is the second-highest level of social media investment in the CMO Survey’s history, and respondents think social budgets will keep growing — by as much as 21.5 percent by 2025. 

And there’s good news for agencies that offer help with social media. Outside agencies are responsible for 24 percent of companies’ social media activities, up from 16.6 percent three years ago, the survey found. Outsourced social media was even higher for consumer service businesses, who hire out roughly 48 percent of their social. 

Meanwhile, the survey noted a decline in the number of in-house social specialists, from 4.1 people in 2014 to 3.1 people today. 

What’s Not So Great?

Social channels are viewed as making only “moderate” contributions to company performance.

Respondents ranked social’s value at 3.4 on a scale of 1 to 7. And that’s pretty consistent with past years, when the number has hovered in the 3.1 to 3.4 range.

B2C companies value social media more (4.1), and so did companies with higher percentages of online sales (4.4). 

Here’s one theory for the discrepancy between higher investment and “meh” confidence in social: A lot of marketers are still struggling to prove that it makes a difference. 

According to the CMO Survey, about 30 percent of respondents can quantitatively show social media’s impact on company performance, compared to 37.6 percent who can qualitatively and 32 percent who can’t do so at all. 

The CMO Survey is a twice-a-year poll of leading marketing executives at for-profit U.S. companies, produced by Deloitte, The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and the American Marketing Association.

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