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Social media marketing has become standard practice for most small-to medium-sized businesses. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 87 percent of B2Bs and 84 percent of B2Cs use social media as part of their content marketing strategies. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide members with unique benefits, and make audience targeting easier for companies across all industries.

However, a new report from Warc, which evaluated 800 award-winning marketing case studies from 2012, notes that marketers must take social media more seriously and enforce higher standards to boost their campaigns’ effectiveness. The data suggests brands look at their planning, strategy and evaluation before producing new content.

B2B Content CreationAccording to marketing information company Warc’s “Seriously Social – a casebook of effectiveness trends in social media campaigns, case studies including social media activity were shorter in length, featured lower budgets and were less likely to show business impact. The Warc report suggests that instead of believing social media marketing has no noticeable value, brands must up the ante and develop more complex strategies.

“Many brands still view social initiatives as short-term and experimental…social media might not be the right choice for every context, but in order for marketers to extract more value from their investments in this field, it is time for social media to be taken more seriously,” the report noted, as quoted by MarketingWeek.

The report’s authors urge brands to adopt a social mindset, which prioritizes content creation that tells a story and encourages social sharing. The people at Warc highlight campaigns from Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like Responds to the Internet.” The company produced viral videos that drew a highly active internet audience, engaged them and compelled them to share their experiences and content with their personal networks. Through this type of strategy, Old Spice saw major returns, from both its own videos and word-of-mouth marketing.

Companies must treat social media the same way they treat content marketing or offline advertising. Social media hubs like Facebook can reach nearly 1 billion monthly active users, all of whom are eager to engage with their favorite brands and buy products online.