Nearly nine in 10 US companies with at least 100 employees will use social media for marketing purposes this year, eMarketer estimates. And the professionals who do social media marketing believe it is important: 88% of them agreed with that statement when surveyed in October by Harris Poll for social media management platform Hootsuite.
Emerging markets, like those in the Middle East and North Africa, are an especially tough nut to crack for many global brands. Understanding what consumers in the MENA region want from social brands is a completely different challenge than in the US and other western countries.
In these markets, perceptions and expectations of businesses can greatly differ from those in markets where they have been operating for many years or decades.
Some studies have been undertaken about social media usage in the MENA region, but many of them tend to dwell on the fact that social media users are much more likely to share their views on politics and community related matters than users in other countries.
Whilst this is fascinating and useful information in itself, it casts very little light on how MENA consumers talk online about brands.
But did they think analyzing social engagement data actually mattered for their business’ bottom lines? While 38% strongly agreed, for about half of respondents, concurrence was more tepid. And 15% didn’t think analyzing social media mattered at all to the bottom line.
Some marketers may have been frustrated by a lack of alignment across the business when it came to social media strategy—something that could hinder social media’s effectiveness. Just 30% said strategy was “completely” or “very aligned.”
Whether despite or because of their disdain for data, two-thirds of marketers said assessing the effectiveness of social media activities was a challenge for them—the most common one faced by respondents overall. Designing a strategy and actually figuring out what to do with social data were the second- and third-biggest problems.
With all these problems, are social media marketing professionals feeling good about anything? According to the survey, 84% said they thought social marketing could enhance relationships with existing customers, and the same number said it helped them to engage with influences liek the media. Networking and social monitoring were also major value adds for about eight in 10 respondents. These are no small wins—but do marketers have evidence to back it up?