However, according to Experian, only 18 per cent of consumers rated social media as one of the top three channels they most trusted to source information about a brand or company, compared with 25 percent who rated Wikipedia as one of their top three most trusted channels.
'It's understandable that consumers currently lack trust towards brand activity on social media, and this is a completely normal part of the evolution curve of any new form of marketing communication,' Matt Glasner, general manager of Experian marketing services,' said. 'These platforms are social, designed as a way for people to communicate with friends and peers and this opportunity to engage doesn't automatically extend to brands.'
According to Glasner, marketers are aligning their marketing spend with the popularity of social media channels, with 58 percent anticipating the proportion of marketing budget they allocate to social media advertising and channel development will increase over the next 12 months. Yet despite this increase in spend, Glasner said 40 per cent of marketers don't have measurement tools in place around their social media strategy.
The research coincides with the launch of Experian Social, a tool which Glasner says will help brands optimise Facebook ads so that they reach their core audience and build a strong online community of brand advocates at the lowest possible cost. 'Using the tool, brands can launch multiple targeted campaigns in a matter of minutes, helping brands build valuable exposure with target audiences over a short period of time. Marketers will be able to demonstrate the effectiveness and ROI on each individual ad campaign launched,' Glasner said.
With us Australians spending an average visit time of 26.49 minutes on Facebook per session between January 2011 and December 2011, the opportunity to 'tap into this active audience is vast,' according to Glasner.
'To be a genuine and valued part of the conversation, brands need to be invited in and adopt a new, more social way of engaging with audiences. It can't be part of the same marketing approaches used with other channels and brands need to think about how to engage audiences on their terms through social media channels.'
Glasner maintains that the findings of the research highlight that marketers are facing 'increasing pressure to demonstrate effectiveness and ROI from their social media strategy back to the business.'
'Without measurement and analysis tools and segmented campaigns, marketers have been challenged to find the most effective way to engage with target customers and get the cut-through they desire in social campaigns.
'For several years, savvy marketers have known that Facebook is a powerful communication tool, but until now, proving its value to the business has been difficult,' Glasner says in his sales pitch, and suggesting that the launch of Experian Social in Australia will enable marketers to evaluate each campaign they run on Facebook, demonstrate a tangible return on investment, understand who the influencers are and 'develop the insights to retain and nurture their social media customer base.'
Glasner concludes that spend on social media is going to increase, and over the next year, there will be more brands engaging with active and interested online audiences.