Only 10% of UK businesses measure the ROI of their social media efforts, despite the fact that more than half have increased their investment in social media over the past twelve months, according to a study by multichannel digital marketing firm EPiServer. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The study, entitled 'Tackling the social challenge', found that while all figures point toward continued growth of the uptake of social media by British brands, the majority are still clearly struggling to measure its impact.

Over the past year, almost one third (29%) of UK businesses have set up a new social media channel and 52% have increased the amount of time dedicated to managing social media. One in five also expect to further increase their social media investment in the next 12 months.

Despite the fact few businesses are measuring their ROI effectively, many companies said that they have seen tangible benefits from their social media outreach. A quarter of businesses reported that they have seen an increase in website traffic, while one in five (21%) attribute an increased sales turnover to the active use of social media. Just under a third (30%) also said they've experienced increased customer loyalty, and 31% report heightened customer engagement.

Managing social media channels With an array of online communities, forums and channels for brands to take advantage of, many businesses are looking at implementing simultaneous outreach on multiple platforms. Facebook (65%) and Twitter (60%) are the most popular channels, but around a quarter of companies are currently managing more than one account on each. Marketers now spend an average of an hour a day managing social media, with only 6% managing multiple channels centrally.

The role of a community or social media manager is something companies are starting to consider but, similar to last year, they have largely failed to appoint dedicated managers. Only 22% of have a social media or community manager in place.

According to Maria Wasing, EPiServer's vice president of marketing for Europe, "While an increasing number of businesses are embracing social media, there are clearly areas for improvement if they are to take full advantage. Managing social media can be challenging and time-consuming, so it's vital to put in place a dedicated resource, along with the right tools and platforms to ensure multiple channels can be updated and managed with ease."

The key to effective measurement, Wasing says, lies in keeping it simple to manage: "Many marketers seem to be overwhelmed with multiple social media channels that need to be maintained constantly. But there are tools available - such as EPiServer's recently launched 'Social Reach' platform - that allow marketers to manage all the channels through a single interface, including segmentation and measurement tools."

The full report has been made available for free download from EPiServer's web site - click here (free registration required).