5 Key Social Media Takeaways from the 2017 Internet Trends Report

Social media marketing enables businesses to target consumers where they spend the most time online, however to get the most bang for your marketing buck in social, you need stay up-to-date on the latest social media advertising trends, best practices, and consumer expectations.

Thankfully, Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers (KPCB) hit it out of the park once again with her annual gift to digital marketers: the Internet Trends Report. This year, some of Meeker’s noteworthy insights revolve around social media – she reveals which social media platforms are leading advertising growth, which are driving the most sales, and also highlights new trends emerging in how consumers want to interact with brands on social media.

In this post, I’m going to discuss five important social media takeaways from the 2017 KPCB report that digital marketers need to know. After all, the better we understand recent social media trends, the better we can leverage them in our digital marketing strategies.

1. Google and Facebook Lead Advertising Growth

Increasing internet usage and online advertising go hand-in-hand, and both continued to rise last year.

Brands and businesses reportedly spent $73 billion on internet advertising across all platforms in 2016, but more specifically, brands are spending more on Google and Facebook ads than ever before.

Spending on Google ads jumped by 30% from 2015 to 2016, earning the search giant a cool $35 billion in ad revenue last year.

Though Facebook’s earnings from paid ads were less than half as much as Google’s – around $13 billion – the social media platform experienced an impressive 62% hike in ad spending in 2016. This intense growth is more telling than the total spending, and we can expect Facebook ad revenue to continue to rise in the next few years.

On the other hand, most other social media platforms are still struggling to monetize and advertise effectively. Advertising on every other online platform combined only increased by 9%.

2. Facebook and Pinterest Ads Result in More Purchases

According to Meeker, Pinterest and Facebook are the driving forces behind online purchases – users on both platforms are more likely to browse and buy than users online anywhere else.

Even though Pinterest advertising hasn’t gone up significantly, the platform manages to drive almost as many sales as Facebook – and both Pinterest and Facebook beat Google in terms of online sales. (That said, geo-targeted Google ads now account for more foot traffic than ever.)

Meeker reported that 26% of consumers who clicked on a Facebook ad went on to make a purchase. The same survey found that 24% of consumers made purchasing decisions based on something they saw on Pinterest.

So what can digital marketers learn from this? That it pays to advertise where consumers spend time online – and they’re primed to buy when scrolling through appealing images on visual platforms like Pinterest.

3. Social Media Advertisers Prefer Measurable Metrics

As with offline advertising, one of the hardest parts of social media is tracking a campaign’s success.

Marketers understandably want hard results they can point to as evidence of a job well done – but the type of evidence they seek is shifting.

For example, 56% of social media marketers now view user engagement as the ultimate indicator of a successful ad, while another 21% prioritize conversion and revenue above all else. In addition, 15% claimed their main goal is simply to increase brand awareness.

Of course, engagement, conversion, and amplification all play into one another – a balanced approach would be to create specific campaigns designed to boost each metric, and then track the results to see what worked – and what didn’t.

As many discover, tracking social media metrics is often easier said than done.

4. Marketers Still Struggle to Track Social Media ROI

The biggest challenges for social media advertisers are in tracking results. Even though marketers rank measurable metrics among the top indicators of social media success, many still struggle to quantify their return on investment.

In fact, 61% named measuring ROI as the top obstacle to successful social media marketing. Another 38% of marketers, meanwhile, said their main challenge was the lack of budget and resources. This makes complete sense, considering that decision-makers are likely hesitant to spend on social media marketing (despite the major benefits of doing so) because the metrics are so tough to nail down.

Another 34% of marketers said they struggle to tie social media campaigns to tangible business goals – which in turn would make tracking real-world results almost impossible.

5. Consumers Expect More from Customer Service

In a world where consumers have everything they could possibly need at their fingertips, standards for customer service are on the rise.

Consumers want more accessible customer support, and expect brands to be more available and responsive to their questions.

More specifically, 60% of consumers want easier access to online support, and 54% want faster responses.

As advertisers continue to invest in social media marketing, brands should also start using social platforms to offer better online support. By opening up the lines of communication to their audience, brands can put the ‘social’ back into social media – and boost sales too.

Allowing consumers to message them through Facebook Messenger, for example, puts brands in direct contact with customers. This makes it possible to resolve concerns that may be holding a consumer back from making a purchase in real-time – and that benefits the customer and the business.

The Intersection of Social, Mobile and Local – Where Businesses and Consumers Meet

Social, mobile and local make up the intersection at which brands and businesses can find the consumers that want and need their products and services. While I’ve only highlighted the social media-related trends above, KPCB’s 350+ page slide deck of metrics demonstrates that consumers want more than we’re giving them right now.

Join the ranks of the social-savvy and start implementing business marketing strategies to meet these consumers’ needs today.

Article written by: Bernadette Coleman