Exclusive PRN Study: Social Spending Is Minimal; But Returns Are Encouraging


In the last few years, social platforms have become the focus of a growing number of PR campaigns, whether for corporations, PR agencies, nonprofit organizations, NGOs and academic institutions.

But that trend—which continues to spread like wildfire throughout the marketing-communications landscape—hasn’t necessarily translated into significant budgets targeting social channels. 

Indeed, a majority of senior managers and communications executives said they devote an average of less than 10% of their PR budgets to social platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, according to a new survey conducted by PR News and the Counselors Academy/Public Relations Society of America.

The online survey, titled “Budgeting for Social,” was conducted in March and April and garnered 154 responses. Nearly 80% of the respondents said they are involved in the decision-making progress of their organization’s PR budget.

With Twitter having recently celebrated its seventh birthday, social media is no longer in any way experimental. Most organizations are social-media savvy these days. And while companies may have several Twitter handles, Facebook pages, LinkedIn accounts and Pinterest pages in order to distribute their content, such efforts are still measured in time, as opposed to dollars.

According to the study, 55% of respondents said they devote less than 5% of their overall social media budgets to Twitter, while 20% of the respondents said they devote between 5% and 10% of their social media budgets to the microblogging service, which has more than 500 million registered users.

There was a similar amount of spending devoted to Facebook, which now has one billion-plus users. Thirty-five percent of the respondents said they devote less than 5% of their social media budgets to Facebook and 40% said they devote between 5% and 10% to the social network.P “From a budgeting standpoint, it costs next to nothing to run a Twitter program or a Twitter campaign,” says Mike Neumeier, principal of PR and marketing agency Arketi Group and chairman-elect of the Counselors Academy. 

He added that as social channels proliferate, companies will up the ante on budgeting for such channels.

“Social media lets you get more creative, for a relatively low-dollar cost, on how to get out the message and reach more people,” he added. “The flip side is that it takes time. You’re pulling one lever or the other: the time lever or the dollar lever.”

Many PR departments may be just sprinkling their social channels with dollars because their overall PR budgets are pretty flat. According to the survey, 57% of the respondents said their PR/communications budget will be flat this year. Nearly 31% said their budgets will get a boost; nearly 12% said their PR budgets will decrease.

Of course, it’s just the top of the third inning when it comes to social media and how to monetize such channels. And that will come at the expense of some traditional marketing tactics.

Boosting their spending on social media has translated into reduced spending on print advertising (59%), direct mail (41% and trade shows (35%), the survey said.

But as social channels play an ever-more important role in marketing communications, the onus will be on PR departments to devote some real dollars to social media.

For now, though, the slight expenditures that PR execs are devoting to social channels are providing some decent returns. Asked what corporate goals that budgeting for social media have helped to generate, 80% of the respondents said brand awareness; 65% of the respondents said better visibility; 60% said increased sales and 45% said improved media relations.

Although Facebook, Twitter and, increasingly, Pinterest, tend to suck up most of the oxygen in the social-media space, the business network, LinkedIn, was cited as the most effective social channels (26%), followed by blogs, Facebook and YouTube (16%).

“There’s been a bifurcation of our social world,” Neumeier says. “Facebook has won the personal life and LinkedIn is winning the professional life.” He added: “LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to be more serious and showcase your expertise.” PRN

CONTACT:

Mike Neumeier, mneumeier@arketi.com.

Budgeting for Social Media

In 2013, your communications/PR budget will be?

Less than $100,000 72.7%

100k-$250k 10%

$250k-$500k 7.3%

$500k-$1 million 6.4%

$1 million or more 3.6%

This year my PR/communications budget will:

Increase 30.9%

Decrease 11.8%

Stay about the same as 2012 57.3%

By how much is your PR budget increasing this year?

1% to 4% 35%

5% to 9% 30%

10% to 14% 10%

15% to 19% 10%

20% to 24% 15%

25% to 29% 0%

More than 30% 5%.

What percentage of your overall budget will be devoted to social channels this year?

Flat 15%

Less than 5% 10%

5% to 10% 40%

15% to 20% 10%

25% to 35% 15%

More than 35% 10%

Of that part of your budget devoted to social media, how much is devoted toward Facebook?

Less than 5% 35%

5% to 10% 40%

15% to 20% 0%

25% to 35% 5%

More than 35% 20%

Of that part of your budget devoted to social media, how much is devoted toward Twitter?

Less than 5% 55%

5% to 10% 20%

15% to 20% 15%

25% to 35% 10%

More than 35% 0%

Of that part of your budget devoted to social media, how much is devoted toward LinkedIn?

Less than 5% 55%

5% to 10% 10%

15% to 20% 10%

25% to 35% 20%

More than 35% 5%

Of that part of your budget devoted to social media, how much is devoted toward YouTube?

Less than 5% 55%

5% to 10% 20%

15% to 20% 10%

25% to 35% 15%

More than 35% 0%

Of that part of your budget devoted to social media, how much is devoted toward Pinterest?

Less than 5% 100%

5% to 10% 0%

15% to 20% 0%

25% to 35% 0%

More than 35% 0%

What are the corporate goals that budgeting for social media have helped to generate?

Better visibility in our marketplace 65%

Brand Awareness 80%

Enhancing Relationships with Business Analysts 15% Improved Media Relations 45%

Increased sales 60%

What’s been the most effective social channel for your company?

Blogs 15.8%

Facebook 15.8%

LinkedIn 26.3%

Pinterest 21.1%

Twitter 5.3%

YouTube 15.8%

How would you describe the returns generated from your social channels?

Solid returns 5%

Better than expected 60%

Nothing to write about 25%

Leaves a lot to be desired 10%

Source: PR News and the Counselors Academy/PRSA. From a sample of 154 respondents working in PR and marketing.

 




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