By Malathi Nayak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Marketers are poised to increase spending on paid advertising on social networks such as Facebook in the next twelve months due to the declining reach of free social marketing, according to a report from research firm Gartner.
Eighty percent of the 123 industry executives surveyed who lead social media marketing initiatives said they would place paid advertising programs on social media within the next twelve months, Gartner said in a statement on Monday.
Of the 80 percent, 42 percent will be starting paid social marketing efforts for the first time, while 38 percent already have such programs in place, according to the report titled "Digital Channel Survey 2016: Social Marketers Expand Tactics for Results."
The study was based on responses from marketing executives from North American companies across industries including financial services and retail.
Brands use social media to market their products and services but are seeing a decline in the reach and engagement from free marketing tools, such as posts through Facebook pages or Twitter, according to Jay Wilson, research director, social marketing at Gartner.
"Sustained success in social marketing now requires paid advertising," the report said.
The benefit of paid advertising on social media is that data and measurement metrics can help marketers target their messages to a relevant audience and measure viewer engagement, Wilson said.
The survey did not ask respondents how much they would be spending on such advertising but rather what their priority would be in terms of social media marketing investments.
In addition to paid advertising, marketers are also employing tactics such as letting employees and customers share content in their personal and professional social networks to further expand reach and brand awareness, according to the report.
"Successful social marketers going forward will not just view social as an advertising channel only, but they will find the right balance between paid versus organic and advocacy efforts," Wilson said.
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Andrew Hay)