There's no predictor of success like the past. As 2014 draws to a close, marketers are looking back at the past year of work and trying to sort out what strategies worked and what failed to meet expectations.
At the same time, emerging trends in digital practices are shaping how brands should approach future marketing efforts. The 2014 Social Media Report is an important piece of research that assesses the state of social marketing in 2014 and offers some insights as to where we are headed for 2015 and beyond.
By seeing how your practices align with those of your peers, current resources and efforts can be structured to fit those conventions and to optimize your social strategy even further. Here are some key takeaways from the report.
Balancing Your Time Commitment
When investing time into social practices, brands aren't sure how to allocate the workload. Anywhere from zero hours weekly to more than 40 can be put into social marketing efforts — a massive range, and one that offers little guidance to most businesses.
But according to the 2014 Social Media Report, most brands find success by working on the low end of that range. The largest segment of marketers spend only one to five hours weekly on social media management — less than one hour per day, in other words. Twenty-seven percent spend between six and 10 hours per week.
It's not only efficiency and resources that determine this investment, though. The study found a strong link between the age of a marketer and their time investment into social media. Younger marketers tend to spend more time working on social marketing, although there wasn't a strong indication of whether this trend has emerged — whether it's due to an increased emphasis on social from young marketers or whether the time allocation doesn't match the results.
Following the Money Trail
Now that social networks have matured and stabilized as a consistent Internet presence, paid advertising is becoming a more-critical component. Marketers are buying in, slowly, but only when the platforms themselves make this necessary and advantageous. Facebook is used by 94 percent of all marketers investing into paid social advertising, and for good reason: The social network is blazing the trail in this regard.
As organic reach declines, brands need to be ready to spend at least a modest amount on paid campaigns. You can fund a Facebook campaign for just a few dollars a day — even something as modest as $50 per month can drive strong results in short order.
Put Your Eggs in the Content Basket
Original content continues to reign supreme. Ninety percent of marketers believe that original content is the most important component of social strategy, with 58 percent pointing to written original content. Content curation accounts for 10 percent of marketing and can be effective when paired with original text, video, images and even audio. Always make sure this content is branded and relevant to your audience.
Brands ultimately have to make the decisions they think best serve their own goals, but understanding the larger social trends can help in developing a more reliable strategy going forward. Use what you learned in 2014 to propel your brand to a strong 2015.