Forrester: growing spend on social media, but commitment still lacking

A new report by Forrester says that half of marketers around the world are planning to increase their social media marketing spend. No great surprise there: the proliferation of blogging and social networking over the past few years is hard to ignore. But the report also reveals a lack of serious commitment, as well as confusion about objectives.

Forrester polled 145 companies with 250-plus staff. Of those whose marketers knew their budgets, three quarters said social media would take up less than $100,000 over the next year. But in most cases there is no social media budget as such – funds are generated “as needed”, or simply scraped together from wherever there’s a bit of slack.

jeremiah-owyangThe report’s author, Jeremiah Owyang, also says companies don’t have a coherent strategy towards social media, and are just trying out different approaches to see what works. He writes:

“If you continue to fund social applications only as experiments, you’re unlikely to be able to do enough to make an impact or to have a secure source of funding for the future.

“One way to put these efforts on a firmer footing is to concentrate on objectives and measure progress toward those objectives, rather than just experimenting to see what happens. … Without concentrating on measurable objectives, it will be difficult to justify further investment in the future.”

As one of the few marketing budget items increasing during the recession, social media marketing needs to be taken seriously and treated as a corporate asset, Owyang argues.

What’s needed are long-term programs, rather than short-term experiments, and for that there have to be dedicated resources in place, including both social media strategists and community managers.

The full report is available here.

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