Social media marketing spending in Europe will reach €3.2 billion in 2017, up from €1.4 billion in 2012 ― reflecting a 17.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years, according to Forrester’s latest European social media marketing forecast published today. However, Forrester warns that the predicted growth is under threat of new European privacy legislation, which it expects to take effect in 2016 and could cut the predicted social media marketing spending growth by more than €880 million. 

“The full extent and implementation of the European privacy legislation is as yet uncertain, and the fractured manner in which such directives are applied across various European countries means that compliance costs for marketers will rise,” writes James McDavid, researcher at Forrester, in his new research. “We do know, though, that the legislation will require the implementation of a ‘right to be forgotten,’ with increased fines for noncompliance. As a result, we believe that when the legislation comes into force in 2016, it will depress spending on social media marketing by around €401.9 million in 2016 and €481.7 million in 2017.” 

Other findings from the research include:

  • Social media adoption in Europe has not yet reached saturation levels: More than 70% of the online population across Western Europe will be engaged by social networks by 2017, up from 63.4% in 2013. 
  • Consumers are increasingly aware of the amount of their data being held by social networks and other companies, forcing marketers to be more transparent about the data they’re using. 
  • As social networks mature, defining the individual ROI of social media marketing will get harder. As a result, marketers will need to develop new methods and metrics to define and measure success. 

For more details on this research, read James’ blog post on the findings here.