Report: No. 1 social media question: ‘How do I measure?’

That’s one of the many findings in a survey of nearly 4,000 marketers in the just-released 2012 Social Media Marketing report. released its fourth annual social media report and, based on the responses of more than 3,800 surveyed, it reveals how businesses are using social media to grow and promote their businesses.

As with any surveys of this type, you have to remember that the people who responded—marketers—are an audience who care about social media. So it’s not surprising when the survey reports that “94 percent of respondents indicated they are employing social media for marketing purposes.”

Still in reading the report, there were several conclusions that I found interesting for anyone grappling with how to effectively integrate social media into their communications plans.

1. Marketers are overly focused on measurement and not concerned enough with strategy.

In perhaps the most telling section of the report, marketers were asked about the “Top 10 social media questions they want answered.” Coming in at No. 1 was how to track the ROI of social media. All the way down at a sad No. 6 was how to create a strategy.

This is the reason why so many businesses struggle to describe the value they see from social media. If you focus on how to measure what you’re doing without having a good strategy for why you’re doing it, you’ve already failed.

2. The lines between “social” and “non-social” are misunderstood and don’t depend on platform.

Marketers were also asked about how they will change their use of “non-social marketing” in the future. Search engine optimization, event marketing and webinars were all on the list of “non-social” marketing. One problem with this is that a webinar featuring a live Q&A is inherently more “social” than a Twitter feed used only to blast out messages. The truth is, being “social” with your marketing has little to do with the platform you choose, and more to do with how you choose to use it.

3. Great writing and video production skills are still undervalued.

For all the buzz about content marketing, many businesses still undervalue the importance of actually being good at content creation. Although this is a huge issue, it wasn’t mentioned in the report. Not everyone can write or produce compelling video. There should be a premium for marketers who are gifted writers and producers—the ones who can craft an engaging message in as little as 140 characters. Or people who can write an in-depth blog post that’s relevant for more than just a few hours. Simply committing to produce more video (76 percent plan to increase its use) or hastily written blog posts will no longer be enough. When content is a commodity, quality content is king.

4. “Social” businesses don’t do daily deals (or at least don’t admit to it).

Daily deals did not fare well in the survey, as “more than 72 percent of marketers have no plans to use daily deals.” Also reported was the dismally low number of only 12 percent of marketers who plan to increase use of sites like Groupon or LivingSocial. Marketers who responded to this survey on are typically social media savvy.

More than any other result, I think this distaste of daily deals is overstated as plenty of less social media savvy businesses still actively use these sites to drive sales and exposure.

5. Platforms still drive interest, but integration should be the ultimate goal.

The survey offered a lot of insights into the platforms that interest marketers. For the second year in a row, YouTube/video was the “top area where marketers plan on increasing their efforts.” In addition, Google+ and Pinterest were both hot platforms that marketers wanted to learn more about. Almost nowhere in the survey did marketers highlight the challenge or importance of integration across all of these disparate platforms. That is already a huge challenge and one that will continue to grow this year.

Download the full report here for free until April 19.

Rohit Bhargava is the award-winning author of “Personality Not Included,” a member of the Strategy & Planning group at Ogilvy, and Adjunct Professor of Global Marketing at Georgetown University. His highly anticipated new book “Likeonomics” will be released globally on May 22, 2012. Register for an exclusive look at Rohit’s upcoming book on April 19. He also blogs at Influential Marketing Blog, where a version of this article first appeared.

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