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How Engaging! Social Marketers Strive for Connections Before Sales

social marketing . / Credit: Social Media Image via Shutterstock

Increased sales may be the end goal of most businesses, but social media marketers have their eyes on a different prize: engagement, new research has found.

The study, which was included in a new eMarketer report— found that 70 percent of marketing professionals are focusing their social media efforts on engaging customers and popularizing their brand. In addition, 61 percent of marketers said they use social media to influence customer behavior, and 58 percent said they hope to increase sales.

Those numbers represent a marked change from just a few years ago, when increased sales was listed as the top goal for all marketing professionals, the researchers said.

[Retail Sites Don't Have a Friend in Social Networks]

"Marketers struggle to get the most out of their presence on social sites, and with brands' continued tenure on the networks, their goals and the metrics they use to measure their performance have changed," the eMarketer report said.

That shift might be tied to a larger shift in how companies measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns. Namely, businesses are not looking at sales from social media as a measure of success. Instead, nearly 24 percent of surveyed marketing professionals said they measure a campaign's success by the engagement it generates, and 15 percent see increased sales as the benchmark of success. An additional 12 percent said conversations and interactions about their brands signify success. 

Those feelings coincide with brands' increased social media familiarity and skills. More than 60 percent of brands in the travel, retail, hospitality and fashion industries said they are active on seven or more social networks. Just 1.2 percent are on less than three. 

Follow David Mielach on Twitter @D_M89. Follow us @bndarticles, Facebook or Google+.