As the new year begins, PerformanceIN continues its annual tradition of connecting with performance marketing experts to get their single biggest prediction for the industry in 2017.

In this piece, Leo Ryan, EMEA VP at Spredfast, explains why marketers will need to pay just as much attention to social as they do to performance marketing.  

We’ve seen both organic and paid social media grow rapidly in 2016. Social media users have risen by 176 million in the last year, with 1 million new active mobile social users joining every day.

To capitalise on this, ad spend on social has boomed to a record $493 billion globally – in fact, spend is due to match newspaper ad revenues in just three years. We expect this trajectory to continue next year.

The surge has, in part, been driven by marketer’s access to information. The two big blues, Facebook and Twitter, have opened the lid on audience data which marketers are starting to interrogate. As 2017 will provide marketers with more social, engagement needs to be treated with the same rigour as other performance marketing disciplines.

Too often, social marketers focus solely on ‘soft’ metrics, like engagement. However, in 2017, the industry will be expected to better understand and drive for ‘hard’ metrics like conversions. While setting clear objectives on ROI and having a robust reporting infrastructure tends to be characteristic of performance marketing, in 2017 we should see these practices replicated in the world of social.

Smaller platforms experienced massive growth in 2017 – Medium, Snapchat and Pinterest to name but a few. But when new platforms launch, marketers need to resist the temptation to rush into setting up pages, posts and paid for content without considering the ROI and bottom line; think like a traditional performance marketer.

In reverse, performance marketers will be able to learn from social next year too. Social media allows brands to target consumers with needs-based marketing rather than simply people, or demographically based. Traditionally, social was dominated by demographic targeting where a 24-year-old man in London could be targeted, however, now with the likes of Facebook and Twitter audience intel, brands can listen to conversations and determine what buying intent individuals have.

Social media is also a useful platform for A/B testing as marketers can put a creative to the public and instantly receive real-time feedback. With this insight, social should be collaborating closely with all marketing disciplines and work towards shared goals.

Without a doubt, 2017 will be an exciting year for social marketers mimicking the approach and structure of a performance marketer will be essential for the discipline to succeed and thrive.