social media researchAre your social media marketing campaigns bringing in sales? If you answered “yes,” you’re part of a very small group found a recent study.

Although many marketers see the value and potential of social media marketing, most have yet to translate that into sales, found a new report by R2integrated.

According to the study, 65% of respondents said that their companies have not increased revenue or profited using social media. When asked about their biggest impediment, 36% of the respondents cited “not enough data or analytics to develop ROI” as their #1 challenge.

A few key finding determined what set the winners apart from the losers.

What Did Successful Businesses Do Differently?

R2integrated CEO Matt Goddard says, “The data we’ve compiled suggests that marketers clearly recognize the need for, and see the potential of, social media, but are still trying to develop models that increase real engagement which then leads to profitability—if that’s a goal for implementing a social strategy.

Despite the presence and popularity of social media, many companies remain relatively unfamiliar with its practices, pundits, and principles.”

This chart shows the overall breakout of the implementation challenges the respondents listed

The overall study took a close look at the differences between the marketers who had a solid social media strategy in place versus those without one.

One major finding was that those who responded that their company had profited or increased revenues using social media were almost twice as likely to have a formal social media strategy.

In addition, they were approximately twice as likely to have a dedicated headcount for managing social media.  The chart below shows how those with a strategy are equipped with a team to handle the campaigns.

These stats bring to mind the “chicken or the egg” question. It would be extremely beneficial to know if these organizations put together a strategy and then filled their team to support it or if they put together a team to create the strategy. This data would be very useful to those companies who are still debating how to tackle their social media needs.

This chart shows two groups--those with a social media those without a strategy and if they do or do not have a social media manager.

The data above would seem to be common sense—if you put together a plan and you strategically carry out that plan (educate yourself and do the hard work), you’re likely to see solid results. If this is obvious, however, then why aren’t more marketers creating social media strategies with managers accountable for seeing them through?

The good news is that we just might be seeing a shift. Even though 50% of marketers reported not having a social media strategy, 57% actually do have someone dedicated to managing their social media.  Therefore, we could very well start seeing more businesses outlining their campaigns and putting a strategy together for their social media endeavors.

Another interesting fact from the study was that the perception of social media differed depending on whether the marketer had a social media strategy in place.  Check out the chart below to see how the two different categories perceived social media overall.

This chart illustrates the perception of social media based on the two groups--those with a social media strategy and those without one.

Overall, 37% of respondents thought social media was “useful and helpful, but could live without it.”  A healthy chunk of marketers can live without social media? Who are these marketers? Is this the same bunch that thought the Internet in early to mid-1990s was just a fad?

When it comes to using social media, 53% of the respondents stated they were “still learning” or “behind the curve” compared to the 44% who stated they were “efficient” or “expert” in social media.

And that leads to the much-debated question, Is there such thing as a “social media expert”? Here’s the breakdown of responses:

  • 40% of respondents said, “Yes, a couple.”
  • 32% said, “Yes, there are lots.”
  • 27% answered either “No, not really” or “Hard to tell.”

Now it’s your turn.  Do these stats surprise you at all?  Do you see parallels in your own social media experiences?  And as for the “social media expert” debate, where do you stand? Do they really exist this early in social media’s adoption? Tell us your thoughts below!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get Social Media Examiner’s Future Articles in Your Inbox!

Join 465,000+ of your peers! Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox and get the FREE Social Media Marketing Industry Report (56 pages, 90 charts)!

More info...
  • Great information Amy. I totally agree that some companies just don’t put in the time or effort to engage people with Social Media. There are some good examples out there, I particularly like what Best Buy is doing with their second Twitter account just to answer questions.

  • I think if done right, you can monetize social media, it just takes a lil more work. I will say social media should NOT be your main focus on monetizing your business or blog.

    Monetizing SM takes that extra step, since people are bombarded by so many offers and resources, so to stand out you have to take that extra step that others wont.

  • Marsh113

    My opinion – Social Media is not intended to make sales. It’s intention is for outreach and relationship building.

  • klementowski

    In my opinion social media is a great tool only for some of businesses which are focused on ‘common’ people. If your offer is more niche it can be rather an additional tool and one should not expect too much.

  • Amy, very interesting findings. I believe, to some extent, that this demonstrates the peril of thinking of social media as merely another marketing channel, as Marsh113 mentions above. We accept the chain of customer thinking that leads from awareness, to knowledge, to understanding, to commitment, to action. But then, in social media, we seem to expect to jump right to action — big consumer brands with high awareness still have to generate commitment before asking for the sale. If they push too hard, they alienate customers. So, on Facebook, ads that have relevance generate higher click-throughs — fans participate in dialogue with the brand and *may* be more likely to buy (some early research suggests as much, but it’s not independent research, so therefore is suspect in my eyes.)

    If you follow Southwest Airlines on Twitter, you’ve already initiated a relationship with the brand — and you’ll tend (I’d think) to be more receptive to their selling plane tickets.

    We just have to get away from the concept that there are easy, proven answers in this space.


  • This is really interesting information. I’m not surprised that companies who say they don’t have an actual strategy in place for social media aren’t seeing the results that those who do are. Being on/in social media is a step in the right direction, but having a plan of how to use it properly and then measure your results against your goals of using social media is what will help in seeing positive results.

    – Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  • First of all great post Amy.

    In my opinion there’s no full fledged expert yet, there are people who know a lot about social media and are great advisers. I like to say we’re scientists conducting experiments in an ever-changing landscape. There’s always new tools and new ways of doing things these days. You have to test, experiment and see what actually works for you.

  • I heart Sysomos!! You guys rock – LOVED your Facebook fan page report! Hope you’re working on the next iteration! 🙂

  • Thanks Mari!!
    We’re always working on new and interesting reports. You can see some of our latest ones here:

  • Social media experts? No. The people closest to that target realize that there’s always so much more to learn. Certainly there are social media savvy people, social media enthusiasts and the social media geeks, but experts? How can you be an expert on something that’s evolving daily? When looking for your social media person (strategist, consultant, whatever you want to call it), don’t look for an expert or “guru,” but rather, look for someone who understands the medium, energetically stays on top of trends and understands the marketing tactics that drive your specific business.

  • I agree with the comments about “experts.” It’s too new, too alive for anyone to claim this.

    I’d venture a guess, however, based on what I’ve seen, that the people who aren’t seeing an increase in sales are probably missing the point of social media. It’s not meant to be a traditional marketing outlet – if you’re not using it in an innovative way and slipping back into old habits (i.e. 140 character Tweets about only your business – in short, 140 character ads), then it’s not going to work.

  • Great blog…but everyday is!
    As to the idea of businesses putting people into social media efforts I think these people need to be familiar with the company on an in depth level if they are being asked to connect with their customers.

  • I use social media as a means to expand my network only. I find that those people who are interested in what I do and have to say, will stick around. The others just move on. It’s certainly not a major contributing factor to my revenue…but it never hurts to have lots of connections.

  • dawnaj

    Thanks for the great stats Amy.

    It seems that so many companies are chasing the latest “Shiny Object” that they are forgetting the basics of business which is strategy.

  • I’m surprised by the 53% of marketers who are behind the curve on social media. As each company struggles to make more out of less, new frontiers of engagement with customers are very important, and social media/mobile is that new frontier. Hopefully, we’ll see that % drop quickly. As for strategy leading to success, is there really any surprise there? All actions should be taken with an objective in mind when it comes to business. Social media management systems are starting to provide the missing metrics and can make the communication and listening work easier too!

    James, products guy at Spredfast

  • This was fascinating, Amy. While someone trying to decide whether — and how — to put the toe in the water might use these stats to decide it’s not worth it, what they should be saying to themselves is, “Wow, I’m not as far behind the eight ball as I thought, and I now I can save time and learn from all these folks who’ve learned the hard way…by trial and error.

  • One of the best articles posted on Social media examiner, thanks!

  • Nice post, Amy.

    I think these statistics reveal where social media is in terms of maturity for businesses. It’s still so early, and there’s still so much for us all to learn. Business managers like numbers, and I think social media will continue to grow at a pace equal with our ability to measure results more accurately. If you have 10,000 Twitter followers, hundreds of blog comments, and thousands of mentions, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have a way of measuring it’s bottom-line impact (or customer service impact, or whatever your business objective is). Just as social media takes time and patience, we’ll have to wait patiently as more successful case studies continue to arise and business managers start to embrace it more seriously.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Its no surprise that those with strategies came out ahead in terms of profits. Just because social media is online, personal, and just networking doesn’t mean that a plan and strategy shouldn’t be in place to reach the bottom line.
    One problem is that social media is so complex that small business owners don’t have time to learn AND implement. They need someone from the outside to create strategy and assist if they can’t do it all on their own. So their thoughts on Social Media being free just changed. Its not free… it has to come from their time or from paying someone else for their time (internal or external).
    But either way, there are NO experts and someone has to put in the time to strategize for this to increase profits or branding. Take the time to learn and plan yourself or pay for the advice from someone with experience.

  • aboutcanada

    As a small business owner at the bottom of the learning curve I have a dedicated person – me. I am at the point where I am broadcasting but not yet receiving. The stats don’t surprise me but I have difficulty seeing how you can measure success.

    I think your approach regarding Southwest Airlines is spot on, or thats what I am basing my strategy on, that and faith that all these experts can’t be wrong!.

    My aim is to build awareness then hopefully relationships. I am in business after all so my ultimate aim is to either deliver a better service to existing customers or serve more customers through my relationships. Though whether I will be able to measure if Joe at the check out is @twofaces (made up) on twitter is another thing entirely.

  • Sfrechette

    which is called marketing and sales.

  • The fact that 37 percent of all survey respondents indicated that they feel social media is “useful and helpful, but could live without it” points to a greater misunderstanding of social media and how it can be used to promote business growth.

    Social media is a powerful relationship-building tool, but it should not be mistaken for a shortcut to sales. All too often it seems companies that venture into the social web make the false assumption that simply establishing a presence in channels like Facebook and Twitter will be enough to serve as a catalyst for online community building. Or, worse yet, they fail to break away from the conventions of old marketing and use social media sites strictly as a venue for broadcasting self-promotional messages rather than as a means of building trust and developing meaningful relationships with customers and prospects.

    Social media is valuable tool that can help businesses compete in today’s marketplace, but its is only as effective as the strategies and practices that drive its implementation.

    The Author

  • Really nice article Amy! I just came across this blog today and I’m really glad that I did. I own my own small business and I can relate on so many levels. My staff and I know how important social media can be for our business, but making it a quality endeavor is another story. We are slowly coming up with a strategy to fit our specific business. Since we are not a traditional company ie: retail, we don’t have a lot of companies like ours to learn from. We started a blog of our own to inform customers about new products and news for our business. Our main problem is getting people to find our blog, we have had it online for a few months and not one person to view or comment. I believe if other business’ have this same issue as we do that they get frustrated and then either don’t put the effort toward social media or quit all together. I plan to read this blog a lot more and learn the best way to not be a statistic (in the bad way).

  • Speaking of not doing this stuff correctly yet, I put the response above in before I registered. I would love to hear any ideas that you all might have or suggestions for us. see you at

  • Social media ain’t easy.:) It takes planning, work, strategizing, organizing…it’s one of the most difficult objectives we’ve ever embarked on.

    But it’s also been the most rewarding. We planned a strategy before putting people in place to carry it out. That strategy (and the reasons for why certain steps were being taken) was made available to everyone on the team. No one worked on our campaign who was not deeply invested in the outcome. The results have been astounding, both in terms of the stunning boost to the company’s online visibility and gaining new business. Additionally, social media marketing has offered us the opportunity to create several profitable joint ventures…something I don’t believe could have happened before we began our campaign.

    So, for my company, it’s been fantastic. But a proper campaign does require time, money, resources, sweat and continuing education. As the cliche goes, “Every day is a school day if you want to stay ahead of the competition.”

  • In full disclosure, I’m an engagement strategist – I do help brands create a strategy and implement it. One of the things that I find is that companies call me because social media “isn’t working” – but they haven’t spent the time or energy to craft a real strategic approach to social media engagement.

    So, what struck me about the report is that those companies that have a social media strategy in place and are implementing it feel that social media is innovative and invaluable to their companies. I think creating the whole universe of social media engagement first is critical to any social media ROI.

  • To be successful in Social Media you have to get attention. And to get attention you have to be different. Social Media success requires risk and doing something different.
    It is understandably hard for a business to venture out into the dark. You don’t know if it will work and you don’t know how it will affect your reputation.
    However, doing the same boring thing but just moving it to the Social Media platform obviously isn’t working either.

  • Very true, social media needs daily work and any expert who say himself on top and does not engage in daily work, can not success

  • bukolaadewakun

    Good information amy, i had always thought that to get the best result you should have a dedicated person that will manage all social media related issues. Developing a strategy has this report suggest is another avenue my company will explore to get the best out of social media platform.

  • rhyslittle

    For me social media is just part of the puzzle, It’s another avenue of promotion and I think it would be fool hardy to ignore it. There are some amazing success stories and not everyone is going to share that, but the same can be said about more traditional forms of marketing. I’m excited to see how it develops in the coming years from it’s infancy! Thanks for the article!

  • “why aren’t more marketers creating social media strategies with managers accountable for seeing them through?” I wish I could answer this with certainty! My theory is that outreach is needed: most people are still confused as to what social media is and what it can help achieve. That stat of 37% feeling that SM is “useful and helpful, but could live without it.” seems quite telling.

    The biggest take-away for me is: goal setting, strategy & focus are crucial for success in ANY aspect of life.

    Thank you for sharing this amazing info. Love insights like this.


  • shei

    totally not surprised at all! very often the online marketing guy is also the seo guy, the ppc guy, the facebook man, the twitter girl, the digger etc etc.

  • social media is still evolving so no surprises here…

  • I think there’s a misconception that social media is all about “What you put out there”. In reality, posting your own latest news is just a fraction of the whole picture. It’s all about interacting. You have to respond to people, run searches to see who’s posting about you, seek out relevant people to follow and repost content as well.

    And while I don’t want to sound like I’m spamming anyone – I just started a Twitter/Social media service. That’s all I do because, as shei said – the marketing person is often the one who handles social media, but when push comes to shove – social media goes to the back burner. Having someone who’s sole function is to monitor it on a daily basis, make those responses, and interact can be of great value.


  • Carla-The customer service Best Buy twitter account is an excellent idea and I hope other businesses, both small and large, adopt this model. It takes engagement to a new level for sure! Thanks for the comment….

  • John Paul-You are so right. The companies and individuals that have actually monetized their social media efforts are those that have created a unique angle in their efforts–if you can think of a way to stand out, you are much more likely to see it pay off. For some this means taking a leap and trying out new ideas that are not guaranteed to work. That can be scary! But it takes a few stumbles to make it all worth it, right? 🙂

  • Ha! So true, Sfrechette. So you are essentially both on the same page!

  • I think it’s funny that there’s still a debate over the value of social media. I use it to generate nearly all of my sales and have a nationwide audience as a result. In my experience, most people won’t consistently make an effort to make it work because they can’t immediately see the results. I started blogging a year ago and my revenue has doubled a year later because of the SEO value and the engagement with my readers. I am hiring people to keep up with the demand as a result of my social media efforts, which is unheard of in this economy.

  • I would have to disagree. I see it this way: The products and services that are much more niche focused have a unique advantage in that they can really drill down on the likes, wants, needs, wounds, etc. of their audience. They can then use social media as a very laser focused way to stay connected. Social media becomes even more personal and transparent at that level. I would not say that social media worked for everybody, but I do think it goes beyond just the “common people” as you mentioned above. Thanks for sharing. . .

  • Sean–you make such great points. Thanks for stopping by and sharing them!

  • Hi! I love how you are in the trenches, testing and working hard to build your foundation. The hard work pays off for sure. One way to educate your followers, but encourage engagement, is to ask questions. This works with a small audience too. I am not sure if you have tried this yet, but people love to chime in and give their 2 cents when asked, so ask questions and it may help start some great conversations. Good luck to you!

  • Sean–I agree. So many small business clients come to me overwhelmed and completely confused as to where to start. I think there will be more social media managers as people get up to speed and really understand how valuable this tool can be for their company. If you assign someone a Social Media Manager position, you have to pay them for it. Most businesses do not want to put money to a position that they are not sure will pay off.

  • Amy I agree 100% SM success takes thinking outside that box. May work and may not work, but at least you not wasting huge some of money working thru your trial an error.

    Try it, if it works do it more, if it doesn’t then rethink it and try again, bottom line SM isn’t going anywhere.

  • brandonanderson

    none of this is a revelation. despite the explosion of social media within a relatively short time with the general populus, it still takes time for businesses and/or marketers to develop a comprehensive understanding of how these new mediums may be of benefit.

  • I thought that too, until we turned an unprofitable department profitable in 6 months using nothing but facebook…now we’re seeing an increase in another department using the same principle. I’ve changed that thought pattern.

  • Brianbraker

    Thanks for the great post. We have a dedicated staff to social media, we have a written social media plan, and we have clearly defined goals. These are the steps any organization needs to take to find success. We have a harder time convincing our clients to commit the time and resources to see their social media goals achieved. Our one wish is to have more tools to achieve ROI,hopefully, companies will begin introducing them.Thanks .

  • For big business like Best Buy and places like it’s essential to market your products because the *
    creditability is already there. But for everyday network marketers it’s a little different. They have to build relationships and get to know their niche market. People that have not been successful in home business dont want to see services and products thrown at them. They are not looking to buy but want to learn how to make a living online. It’s hard to build relationships on Twitter. Everythings automated and people never respond when you send the a message wanting to know what they do. Facebook is excellent when it comes to connecting with people on a personal level and there’s tons of people that you can help right away. The people that are only sharing links and hoping people will just buy are losing all their business to people who care what the person is all about. Why go through all that trouble when you can sponsor people in your business daily by spending time communicating instead of all the effort it takes to market. But yea, Twitter is great for places like Best Buy.

  • For big business like Best Buy and places like it’s essential to market your products because the *
    creditability is already there. But for everyday network marketers it’s a little different. They have to build relationships and get to know their niche market. People that have not been successful in home business dont want to see services and products thrown at them. They are not looking to buy but want to learn how to make a living online. It’s hard to build relationships on Twitter. Everythings automated and people never respond when you send the a message wanting to know what they do. Facebook is excellent when it comes to connecting with people on a personal level and there’s tons of people that you can help right away. The people that are only sharing links and hoping people will just buy are losing all their business to people who care what the person is all about. Why go through all that trouble when you can sponsor people in your business daily by spending time communicating instead of all the effort it takes to market. But yea, Twitter is great for places like Best Buy.

  • Pingback: 30 SEO & Social Media ROI Analytics Resources | SEOptimise()

  • Pingback: Networking seo tips website tutorials blog solutions domain hosting()

  • Pingback: Why not do what successful social media marketers are doing? | eMagine's B2B Blog()