The vast majority (82 percent) of public relations professionals believe a standard measurement tool is needed to evaluate social media success, according to a recent benchmark survey of conducted by Public Relations Global Network, an international network of 44 independent public relations firms.

According to David Landis, owner of San Francisco’s Landis Communications and president-elect of PRGN, “We wanted to survey the field about social media, a discipline that is generating significant growth internationally. It is obvious from the survey that return on investment will be the yardstick for social media.”

The survey found that PR professionals believe social media can help support professional global relationships (73 percent) and have a role to play in doing international business (68 percent).

The four social media platforms currently being used were not surprising: LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. According to the survey, 60 percent indicated that they believed that Twitter and Facebook are both expected to be used more in the next five years.  Blogs also are anticipated be used more. And when it comes to training, respondents want to learn more about Pinterest (46 percent), Google+ (37 percent), Renren (36 percent) and Flickr (30 percent).

The top five reasons why social media use will increase in the future include promoting events, monitoring customer feedback, launching campaigns/initiatives, giving consumers/customers a sense of community and attracting new customers.

The five top barriers to using social media in the future are return on investment (45 percent), time (39 percent), resources/budget (37 percent), support from leaders (36 percent), and knowledge or experience using social media tools (33 percent).

In the next five years, outcomes such as product sales and leads as well as traffic counts such as posts, likes, comments, trackbacks and pings both received more mentions from 70 percent of the respondents.