LONDON – DECEMBER 7, 2010 – According to independent global research released today, many of the findings in the Future of Content survey reflect an industry still in its infancy. Companies are learning ‘on-the-job’ how best to create and distribute content, and effectively connect with audiences. Significantly, areas such as social media ROI and impact measurement are very much the preserve of the sophisticated minority.
Only 40% consider that their company fully embraces social media, yet budget is only an issue for 18%. Indeed, budget for social media is on the rise – in the last 12 months, marketing budgets are most likely to have increased for social media (35%), email marketing (34%) and online advertising (34%), while 40% expect their marketing budgets to increase in 2011.
Commissioned by Meltwater Group, one of the world’s leading Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, the Future of Content is the first annual global study of its kind, producing insight into how companies are tackling content marketing and social media, and how this needs to evolve to meet future business imperatives. The results are derived from interviews with marketing and social media decision makers from 450 companies across the world, including the US, UK, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Singapore and Australia.
Companies’ enthusiasm to embrace the changing nature of content marketing is tempered by the challenge of how to unlock its potential and produce sustainable, measurable success. 78% consider content marketing to be important to their organisation, with the three most popular channels being e-newsletters (62%), print magazines (61%) and social media (49%). However, in terms of engagement effectiveness, in-person events (61%) and print magazine (56%) score highest, with social media much lower (37%). Social media’s importance is however rising up the strategic communications agenda, with just over half seeing it as integral to their marketing efforts, and as an opportunity rather than a threat. Yet there is a social media digital divide amongst the business landscape – see Figure 1.
As companies become more accustomed to using social media for corporate purposes, they begin to experience “growing pains” and various competency gaps are exposed. The biggest content marketing challenges are producing interesting (23%) and new or different (21%) content. Furthermore, after a lack of resource / time (38%) to invest in social media, the most significant challenges relate to an inability to measure social media’s impact on goals (30%) and a lack of adequate tracking / monitoring (27%). Just over half think it is difficult to measure the true ROI of social media activities, with only 1 in 6 companies fully satisfied that they can properly measure ROI.
“This global research is a significant stake in the ground as it highlights how marketing departments are struggling to harness the potential of social media and demonstrate its value to their business. Interestingly, the challenges that marketing departments are faced with are not about cost. It’s about understanding how social media works, increasing their competency in delivering coherent strategies, and measuring their impact,” said Jorn Lyseggen, CEO, Meltwater Group.
“The industry is in a transitional period and still very much in its infancy. With transition comes risk, and more emphasis will therefore be placed on measuring effectiveness to help justify the investment. Knowing who is saying what and where about your brand is a key part of measuring changes in sentiment and therefore the impact of online activities.”
Against a backdrop of economically turbulent times, these findings are positive for marketing departments as they start to navigate their way around this new online landscape – digital and social media spend is increasing, while traditional marketing spend is decreasing. However companies must now re-evaluate how and why they are using digital media. These new channels are revolutionising marketing departments and bring with them a need for a whole new marketing mentality to make social media a sustainable success story.