With nearly 100% of marketers using social media — ranging from branded Facebook and Twitter accounts to blogs, forums, and paid ad placements — it’s little surprise that Forrester forecasts US marketers alone will spend $4.8 billion on social marketing tactics in 2013 and marketers throughout the world will add billions more to that figure. What’s more, new Forrester data shows that 60% of marketers will increase their social budgets this year, many by a significant amount. Yet, despite the social hype, many (68%) say the channel simply doesn’t offer enough ROI, and measurement challenges often create obstacles to delivering value. “The sobering reality is that nearly a decade into the era of social media, more social marketers are failing than succeeding,” writes Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Nate Elliott in his new research. Big name brands such as Best Buy and Pepsi have faced such failure, and the list goes on and on.

According to Elliott, “social exceptionalism” can be pinpointed as the problem: “Rather than recognizing that social is just another marketing channel, many marketers see it as unique” — that is, keeping social completely separate from other marketing efforts, or worse, asking social to carry the weight of an entire marketing program. So what’s the solution? To succeed with social media, marketers must understand how it supports each part of the customer journey. That means not just offering engagement, but also enabling discovery and supporting exploration and purchase with social — what Forrester calls social reach, social depth, and social relationships.

The research examines Forrester’s marketing RaDaR model and how brands such as Dell, Jack Daniel’s, Jeep, and Kraft are integrating social into their marketing RaDaRs to generate lasting ROI.

To learn more, visit the full report here.