Social media is continuing its maturation from a largely experimental channel to an insights- and data-driven component of the marketing playbook, a list of Warc’s most popular papers on this topic over the last year suggests.

The most-read article about social media was Warc's Seriously Social 2015, a report drawing on in-depth statistical analysis and best practices to demonstrate how platforms like Facebook and Twitter can deliver tangible business results.

Written by Peter Field – a marketing consultant and effectiveness expert – this study found that "originality" and a focus on customer acquisition were among the drivers providing the greatest impact for brands on social.

Taking second place on the most-read social rankings was a piece by Tania Yuki, Founder/CEO of social intelligence firm Shareablee, published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Yuki tracked the 2,000 most-shared posts on Facebook and polled over 10,000 users, then outlined what encourages people to share brand content – with social currency, emotion and utility found to be some of the main considerations.

Further insight came from Measuring the contribution of social media, an extract from "IPA Social Works", a project led by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), Marketing Society and Market Research Society.

Premised on two years of work establishing how social campaigns can supply a meaningful return on investment, this paper – Warc's third most-read article regarding this channel in 2016 – offered a "five-point plan" for measurement.

How to use the few to get to the many: what marketing science means for effective social strategy followed next in the rankings, and made the case for basing campaigns on more rigorous underpinnings and certain established metrics.

Completing the top five was What we know about digital, mobile and social media, a four-part overview of current knowledge and strategic developments across the new-media ecosystem.

Data sourced from Warc