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4 Brand-Changing Lessons from the 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Social Media Examiner‘s 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report is always a highlight of the savvy social marketer’s year. This year, the 8th annual version of the report surveyed 5,000 marketers to find out what they care about and how they’re solving problems right now.

You should really download the whole thing for maximum value (it’s free!), but I’ve put together some of the most valuable insights from the report to tide you over in the meantime — and learn how you can take action as a social marketer.

1. 40% of Marketers Agree That Social Media Marketing Has Gotten Harder…

…in the last 12 months. Social Media Examiner asked marketers to rate their agreement with this statement: “For me, marketing with social media is harder than it was 12 months ago.”

40% of respondents said social marketing has gotten harder, and a whopping 27% said they were uncertain.

Difficult Social Marketing

The Takeaway: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Everyone is struggling with the intricacies and challenges of social media marketing in 2016: How do you measure success in a perpetually evolving ecosystem? Which emerging networks do you invest in? How do you know which techniques will be effective? Should you build up an influencer program? No marketer being honest feels like he or she is on stable, sure footing in this tricky climate.

What You Can Do About It: I recommend two things. One, find a supportive network of marketers you can commiserate with and get advice from. Make sure these marketers are already enacting campaigns you admire, and are in your industry, for highest relevancy.

Once you’ve identified your targets, go to a meet-up, take a sophisticated social marketer out for a drink, connect on LinkedIn. If you don’t have direct access to any marketers you admire, do your research instead:, Social Times, and this very blog often have interviews with social marketing greats and are fantastic places to start.

My second tip is to make sure you have a way to prove business impact from every social marketing strategy you employ, whether that’s Facebook Live, Snapchat, or Twitter audience targeting. Choosing clear goals and metrics seems tedious at first, but pays off in the end when you’re asked to show your value to your broader marketing organization.

2. More Experienced Marketers Do More Social

This report found that most marketers with less than 12 months of experience spend five or fewer hours per week on social marketing.

However, for marketers who have been active for two years or longer, at least 64% spend 6 hours or more per week on social media activities.

More Time

The Takeaway: This is a classic example of “The more you know…” The most experienced social marketers understand that an effective marketing plan requires a social media component. ‘Nuff said.

What You Can Do About It: Whether you’re an experienced marketer or a spring chicken, make sure you are incorporating a solid social plan into any marketing campaign you put together — and measurement strategies that will stand up beneath your CMO’s magnifying glass.

3. Increased Exposure and Increased Traffic Are Top Priorities

The report found that the top two benefits of social media marketing are:

  • Increasing exposure
  • Increasing website traffic

The report goes on to say:

A significant 89% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. Increasing traffic was the second major benefit, with 75% reporting positive results.

ChartThe Takeaway: Worth noting here is that the above chart looks like a rainbow. While the top two concerns for social marketers were increasing exposure and traffic. All of these priorities carry a lot of weight for social marketers in 2016.

What You Can Do About It: Don’t get overwhelmed by the wide variety of goals you’d like to reach with your social strategy. Pick three goals maximum to focus on — ones that fit with the goals of your larger marketing organization — and work towards them. This will help you avoid becoming a “jack of all trades and master of none.”

4. Investment in Social = Sales

More than half of the marketers who have used social media for two years or more report that social improved sales.

74% of those who spend 40+ hours per week earn new business through their efforts.


The Takeaway: There is no shortcut here when it comes to effort and dollars invested. The more you invest in your social program, the more you will get out of it.

What You Can Do About It: Make a solid business case for your social marketing efforts by putting together a plan of attack and the metrics you will use to prove success. Then go after that budget you need to better your business with social.

Of course, you also have to find a way to attribute sales to your social efforts. We have a great post about attribution modeling that you can do in-house here. 

What were your major takeaways from Social Media Examiner‘s Report? Let us know on Twitter and download our 2016 Social Marketing Planning Guide below if you need a helping hand with your social strategy.

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2016 Social Marketing Planning Guide


Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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