Photo courtesy: Flickr/LendingMemo

Photo courtesy: Flickr/LendingMemo

How are your company’s social media marketing efforts faring? Chances are that you don’t really know.

According to a new benchmark study from Demand Metric, “Social Media Analytics: Enabling and Optimizing Use Cases with Analytics,” almost two-thirds or organizations are using social media analytics tools to understand and enhance their social media marketing. But 70 percent of them are unable to show the return on investment of their social media efforts, typically undertaken with campaign tracking, brand analysis and gaining competitive intelligence in mind.

Campaign tracking is the top use case, where data should be available to understand revenue impact. But the lack of knowledge around ROI shows there’s a disconnect there, the marketing research and advisory firm finds. That said, it also notes that companies taking an aggressive approach to evaluate and add new social media analytics capabilities have the best understanding of social media’s influence on their revenue.

While social media analytics tools have been around for awhile, they still represent a fairly new space for a lot of companies. According to the survey, more than half of those who have adopted social media analytics tools have done so only in the last couple of years, an adoption pattern that Demand Metric says is in line with the maturation of these tools. Since social media analytics tools began appearing in the mid-2000s, professional marketers, the report says, have “wanted better tools and information about how the social media channel performs, as well as ways to extract insights from the unstructured data stored in these networks.”

The growing adoption of social media analytics tools, however, doesn’t equate with a growing maturity in using them. “Analytics tools – and knowing how to use them – are the key to social media effectiveness and reporting ROI,” said Jerry Rackley, chief analyst at Demand Metric and author of the Netbase-sponsored report, in a statement. “Even though 61 percent of organizations now report having a social media analytics solution, they have not climbed very far up the learning curve in using them. To fully leverage the powerful channel that social media is, organizations must first align their efforts with business objectives and then learn how to use their analytics tools to support and drive their efforts.”

Nearly 75 percent of companies leveraging social media analytics tools say their executive decision-making is influenced to some degree by the insights and intelligence gained from analyzing social media. Sixty-six percent of respondents said their most valuable insights from social media analytics come in the way of customer engagement.

But whatever the use case, whether the right data is being filtered, when there is so much of it, still presents a problem for the brand and marketer, Demand Metric research director Danny Brown writes in the report’s preface. “Failure to extrapolate the right data will only make the job tougher for any brand looking to truly understand their customers’ mindset and, by doing so, how to impact their choices when they’re at crucial decision-making points in the purchase life cycle,” he writes. “While it’s encouraging to see the importance of data being used as a key component in understanding your brand’s audience…it’s clear that access to more data doesn’t necessarily mean the data is useful.”