Depending on who’s prognosticating, 2017 will be the year when social media become the answer to the media clutter and better marketing—or the year social media are lost in a sea of fake news and meaningless impressions and likes. The truth for most organizations will likely be somewhere in between. Certainly the deluge of fake news, the highly publicized use of social media for propaganda purposes, and the lack of business results for many organizations has dampened senior leadership’s enthusiasm for these channels.
In fact, chances are good that social media, and the metrics that are needed to measure their effectiveness, will probably be found in the marketing department. The function, which began in PR with organic conversations with customers and the media, is now increasingly being moved into paid digital marketing groups, according to the 2016 Social Media Marketing Report from Simply Measured.
From a measurement perspective, this makes perfect sense. Sure, social has its own “engagement” metrics that relate to specific campaigns or initiatives, but ultimately the goals are the same: to sell stuff, grow lists and strengthen relationships. Most of which are best measured via digital analytics.
The other reality is that the realignment of many social media functions from PR into marketing is an indication that paid social is overtaking earned and organic social in the marketing mix. In part, this has occurred because social media and their myriad metrics have introduced a whole new landscape of accountability to communication professionals. In the early days, it was exciting and interesting to watch how a piece of content would generate likes and shares. Or to see how just one tweet could bring you so many retweets or new followers.
Then Facebook and Twitter started adding metrics like “engagement,” with their own specific formulas,...
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