Social media “stumps marketers”, according to a Forrester report which claims that almost one third of CMOs around the world are unable to show how the use of the channel benefits their businesses.

Despite this, some $112bn will still be spent on social media advertising this year, Campaign reports, as marketers pursue a “social marketing strategy” rather than thinking more broadly about how social media ties in to wider marketing goals.

Quoting Forrester’s report, it says that marketers “had unrealistic expectations of social media, hoping it would be the key to unlocking massive profits in the digital age. When that didn’t pan out, they shifted 180 degrees to believing that social media’s only use was for advertising.”

But it’s simplistic to assume that these extremes are the only options. As WARC’s own Effective Social Strategy report, based on lessons from the 2019 WARC Awards winners, shows, social’s role in strategy is growing but it has yet to fulfil all its potential.

“What we see is that social offers immense opportunities for participation-led campaigns, but overall, not enough brands are playing to its strength,” said Lucy Aitken, Managing Editor, Case Studies at WARC.

The WARC report highlights three trends defining the most effective social strategies:

• Social is capable of fulfilling both long- and short-term business objectives, with brands using the channel to both execute on brand activity and serve as a promotional mechanic, delivering strong commercial results.

• Smart influencer selection can lean on voices that drive growth: in the most effective examples, influencer marketing is a long-term commitment, where the brand invests time in selecting the right voice with which to co-create. Getting it right leads to engagement and effectiveness.

• The conversational nature of social can fuel brand bravery, leading to “creative judo” as marketers spot a point of cultural tension on social and exploit it.

A sample of the Effective Social Strategy Report, Lessons from the 2019 WARC Awards, can be downloaded here.

Sourced from Campaign; additional content by WARC staff