Chief Marketer/Penton 2012 Social Media Survey

Social Media Marketing – Step Out Boldly and Explore!

Chief Marketer/Penton Media recently published their 2012 Social Marketing Survey.  Titled “Lots of Choices, Lots of Trials”, the annual study provides a wealth of information about marketers’ use of the major social media platforms.  And while the survey polled both B2C and B2B marketers across a broad range of industry segments, insights into the social media mindset of B2B marketers are particularly interesting.  Here are some highlights.

Who is marketing through Social Media?

  • 76% of respondents said their brands were “already conducting some level of marketing within social media.”
  • 16% of companies plan to implement social marketing by the end of the year
  • 79% of all the B2C companies surveyed currently use social media for marketing
  • 68% of all B2B companies surveyed currently use social media for marketing

Just about everyone has now jumped into the social media game or at least has dipped a toe in the water.  As we roll into 2013, it’s possible that more than 90% of companies will be involved with social media marketing in some way.  Not surprisingly, B2C marketers are more inclined to reach out to their customers through social media channels.  However the study also notes that B2B social activity has increased dramatically in the past two years.

Where is all the Action?

On the B2C side:

  • 94% of responding companies market on Facebook
  • 76% utilize Twitter
  • 39% are active on LinkedIn
  • 45% use video sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo

In contrast, the B2B market stacks up a bit differently:

  • 85% of responding companies are active on LinkedIn
  • 77% utilize Twitter
  • 77% are active on Facebook
  • 43% use YouTube and Vimeo

While the majority of marketing activity is concentrated in the three largest social networks – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – the study reveals that usage patterns differ significantly.  Brands targeting a consumer audience skew dramatically to Facebook and barely venture into LinkedIn at all.  In contrast, B2B brands favor LinkedIn by a wide margin which isn’t surprising given LinkedIn’s focus on professional credentials and networking.  We expect video sharing to increase across the board in 2013 as companies search for more dramatic ways to tell their story.

What do Brands think about Social Media Marketing?

  • 42% of respondents believe that Twitter’s potential for generating new leads is outweighed by the constant need for new content
  • 51% of respondents overall (41% in B2B) find that most LinkedIn members are more interested in career networking than business issues
  • 44% of companies surveyed feel that the new Facebook Timeline format has had no impact on their Facebook marketing effort

Despite the high usage levels, many companies find Twitter and LinkedIn problematic as marketing channels.  When asked what they thought about Twitter as a marketing platform, respondents noted that, “while they value it as a way to reach new customers, Twitter has the drawback of requiring a constant stream of new marketing content to draw and engage those prospects.”  In short, it takes a lot of time to “work it.”  Similarly, although companies regard LinkedIn as a good way to engage with a professional audience, many believe that LinkedIn members rely on the network for career-building far more than as a source for business solutions.  Given that focus, LinkedIn may not be the strongest venue for marketing messages.

What is the most frustrating about Social Media?

  • 56% say it is hard to calculate a true ROI
  • 55% find it hard to link social engagement to sales
  • 39% believe that managing social content is too time consuming
  • 35% believe the constant need for fresh content is overwhelming
  • 25% say it is difficult to manage multiple social platforms

Those are the top 5 frustrations among social media marketers.   As expected, more than half of the respondents focused on the financial metrics, citing the difficulty of relating social media marketing activities to sales results and return-on-investment.  However, several other answers are actually more telling and provide important insights.  A lot of companies are finding that despite social media’s inherent value, effective marketing programs are proving difficult to create, manage, control and sustain.

So what’s the take-away for small and medium-sized companies pressed for both time and results?  We have a few thoughts.  First, remember that successful – and recurring – engagement with your audience does depend heavily on the quality of your content.  Customers and prospects need to feel that every visit to your site was worth the trip.  So focus on updating your website content frequently.  If you have a blog – and you definitely should by the way – post often.  Once a week is fine, two or three times is even better.  Fresh content will improve your search rankings and bring new visitors to your primary site as well as providing a stream of content for your social media marketing effort.

Second, don’t be afraid to seek outside help.  Unless you or your staff has time on their hands, work hours might be better spent on your core business.  Social media marketing is not an insurmountable task but it does require a consistent activity level and can be time-intensive.  A marketing firm with researchers, writers, graphic artists, web developers, and media strategists can help you generate content and manage your social media program effectively.

Finally, don’t let the results of any survey – including this one – put you off.  The social media environment is still very much a frontier that is anything but settled.  Step out boldly and explore!

You can download a PDF of the Chief Marketer 2012 Social Marketing Survey right here. It’s informative and loaded with helpful graphics that clearly tell the story.  Well worth a read!


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