Marketers expect significant social marketing spending this year: Alterian

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Marketers will spend more money on social media this year. However, they're still mastering their use of social websites to reach consumers, according to a survey from integrated marketing services provider Alterian.

Marketers said 2011 will be a turnaround year when the spending cutbacks of the recession are reversed to increase engagement levels across digital media. More than half (57%) of respondents expect their budgets to increase this year, while only 10% expect budget cuts. Three quarters (75%) of those polled said spending on social and digital media will rise.

However, marketers said they are still struggling to get a handle on social media. One-third (33%) said they have little or no understanding of the conversations happening about their brand, while 40% said they're using some ad hoc tools to parse them. Another 27% said they report those exchanges regularly to management.

“The primary issue here it that it is a new medium…people are figuring out how to tap into it,” said Donnell Wright, Alterian's senior director of global research and insights and sales support. “The tools for tracking and analytics exist, but marketers are faced with a challenge in choosing among them what lines up with their business needs.”

She added that marketers need to set up analytics and key performance indicators to better understand social media.

“It's new. It's tough to wrap their heads around it, but they need to get very proactive,” said Wright. “Social media is there and it's going to continue to evolve and mature, but your customers are waiting to engage with you now. If you're not there, it's really a disservice to you and your brand.”

The survey polled 1,462 marketers, agencies and service providers in December.

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