Social and influencer to play larger role in marketers’ plans in 2022: CMA study

Social media and influencer marketing are poised to play larger roles in Canadian marketers’ plans in the wake of the pandemic, according to a new study from the Canadian Marketing Association. Their rise reflects both their ubiquity and ability to deliver short-term results prized by marketers, the study concludes.

The CMA’s 15th annual Digital Marketing Pulse Survey, conducted by Ipsos, found that social is already a well-established tactic among Canadian marketers, with 93% saying they use it always or often. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of marketers surveyed expect to increase spend on social next year.

“We expect to see more resources devoted to paid ads on social, social media content creation, community building and influencer marketing,” said Steve Levy, chief operating officer with Ipsos Canada.

Marketers are increasingly reliant on social because of its effectiveness, the ease with which it enables them to reach their customers, and an increased reliance among so many publicly traded companies on short-term results, said Levy.

Marketers’ reliance on the spikes provided by short-term marketing tactics has become a major topic of discussion among marketing professionals in recent years, with some saying the spikes in sales come at the expense of brand-building, and ultimately erode brand value.

But marketers continue to be drawn by the promise of eyeballs, and there are a lot to be found on social. Three-quarters (74%) of Canadians visited a social networking site this year, up from 69% in 2020, while 60% said they are willing to receive information from a social network.

The survey results come despite a spate of negative headlines around companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) and its role in disseminating hate speech and misinformation. “Little deters Canadians in their use of social media,” said Levy. “The public may express some concerns over privacy and safety, but they do little to change their social media behaviour.”

While last year’s study suggested that marketers were ready to turn away from influencers, citing a “growing lack of authenticity” as well as concerns pertaining to new regulations and transparency, more than one-third of respondents in this year’s survey—a historic high—said that they use the tactic always or often.

Email marketing also continues to be used extensively, and marketers are once again using on-premise digital signage as consumers slowly return to retail outlets. The report says that there is a continued appetite among marketers to keep “core tactics” such as email marketing, websites and SEO in-house, with respondents citing lower costs and accelerated turnaround time as the primary reasons.

Chris Powell