Marketers are developing new strategies and goals to keep up with the social media landscape, but they're looking for the same returns.

Social media audiences continue to grow, and 72 percent of United States adults are social media users who demand real-time updates on multiple platforms. Consumers aren’t the only ones adopting and adapting. Data from the Pivot Conference shows that brands are equally agile when it comes to social media marketing – companies’ efforts, goals and performance metrics have all evolved to reflect their experiences using these channels.

An important finding in the L2’s “Social Platforms 2013” Intelligence Report is brands’ broadening approaches. Approximately 18 percent of companies are active on seven networks, while only 1.2 percent participate on fewer than three. This suggests marketers cast a wider net to reach customers on emerging networks as well as established platforms.

Approximately 18 percent of companies are active on seven networks, while only 1.2 percent participate on fewer than three. 

Facebook remains the site with the largest audience, but recent data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows Twitter is rapidly gaining traction with U.S. adults. Newer platforms with strong visual elements like Pinterest, Vine and Instagram have also experienced exponential membership growth – and brands are taking note.

As strategies evolve to incorporate new networks, marketing expectations are changing. Pivot Conference data revealed that in 2011, marketers said their No. 1 social media goal was to increase sales. Now, social conversions take a backseat to these marketing goals:

  •  No. 1 Engagement
  • No. 2 Brand lift 
  • No. 3 Influencing consumer behavior
  • No. 4 Positive sentiment

This shift shows marketers recognize it’s not always effective to make hard sells through social media content. In fact, brands may see greater ROI by focusing on engagement at the first point of contact and nurturing leads as they click through to the homepage and view product pages.

Even though brands’ goals and approaches have changed, the benchmarks used to gauge success remain the same. More than 23 percent assess performance based on engagement, while 15 percent look for higher sales numbers to measure their strategies.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.