Social’s Second Phase?

Brands still have a long way to go to get to monetization

A brand must go through three stages to achieve social enlightenment, according to a new study from Wildfire Interactive. There’s growth, there’s engagement, and then there’s monetization. 

Despite all the ad dollars gushing into social media, brands will for the most part find themselves moving into Stage 2 (engagement) this year.

“If you don’t have a lot of fans and followers, you’re not going to get much benefit from social,” said Victoria Ransom, CEO of Wildfire. “When we first started, that’s all anyone was focused on. We’re starting to see that shift of, ‘We have the audience; how are we going to engage them?’”

Monetization is still a bit further on the horizon.

In Wildfire’s study of more than 700 global marketers, almost all respondents believe social media benefits the company and 88 percent believe they’re getting a positive return on their social media investment.

That said, there's little consistency in how they measure ROI. Almost 40 percent of respondents said they measure social media success merely by increases in fans, likes, comments and interactions. Meanwhile, 24 percent measure by increase in revenue and 15 percent by increases in brand awareness.

Among business sectors, attitudes about social media also vary. E-commerce brands, for example, care about traditional ROI. Nonprofits, government entities and education companies believe social media can lead to cost savings. Business-to-business entities care little about social media: only 23 percent value their Facebook fans over their non-fans, the survey reported.