Keeping up with Social Media

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I've wondered recently how marketers and agencies keep up with the light-speed changes in the digital media space, especially in social media. From branded Facebook applications and Twitter marketing to MySpace hypertargeting and niche social networking sites, the seemingly endless shifts are enough to make any advertiser's head spin.

After all, how can marketers decide the best way to leverage social media when the tactics change so rapidly and each site offers a variety of options? And, how do they know which choices will lead to better ROI when there are so few metrics?

Many advertisers agree that there is confusion overall. Last month, a Jupiter Research study, Social Marketing Scorecard, 2008, revealed that 29% of overall advertisers and 47% of large advertisers find it challenging to decide which marketing techniques to use with social media — particularly when mea­surement metrics are not yet established.

In our main feature this week, which focuses on how Internet marketers are increasingly using social media to amplify their efforts, we asked three digital agency leaders how marketers can measure their social networking efforts. Michael Winter, media director at Agency.com, advised patience as benchmark­ing and best practices are established. And Kristi VandenBosch, president of Tequila/US, added that marketers are “changing their expectations” when it comes to social media measurement, assigning value to “new consumer behaviors.”

It's clear that, despite the vast marketing potential of social networking, publishers still need to do more to help advertisers make the right choices, and offer meaningful ways to measure a campaign's success. Right now, according to JupiterResearch, half of them spend less than 5% of their online budget on social marketing. Addressing measurement and other issues will give marketers the confidence to invest more in the space.

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