Top Trends in Social Media Marketing

Michael A. Stelzner, founder of SocialMediaExaminer.com, has issued his third annual report of how marketing professionals are putting social media to use and how they plan to do so in the future. The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report reveals a number of interesting facts and trends:

  • Of the more than 3,300 individuals who participated in the study, 93% have incorporated social media into their marketing activities.
  • A greater percentage of B2B companies (52.6%) have been using social media for a year or more than their B2C counterparts (46.2%).
  • 58% use social media for six hours each week, 34% spend more than 11 hours weekly, and 15% spend more than 20 hours each week.
  • 88% said their social media work has generated more exposure for their companies, while 72% reported that they have improved traffic and subscribers to their web sites.
  • 52% said that their lead generation efforts improved by spending as little as six hours a week on social media initiatives.

These bullets represent the mere tip of the iceberg of information the report offers. It’s well worth a read.

One of the things I found most interesting about the report is that it asked marketers to identify the single most important question they’d like answered regarding marketing with social media. Here are their top five responses:

  1. How do I measure the effect of social media marketing on my business?
  2. How do I integrate and manage all of my social media marketing activities?
  3. What are the best ways to sell with social media?
  4. How do I improve customer engagement with social media?
  5. How do I master the use of specific social media platforms?

These are exactly the questions I’d expect marketers to ask. After all, social media marketing is relatively new. And I suspect that there are some generally applicable answers—answers that the “experts” would widely agree upon. But I also suspect that, given the very nature of social media, the answers will vary strikingly based upon a company’s industry, size, target market, marketing strategy, culture, etc. Further, these variations will be more pronounced for social media than they would be for most other marketing tactics/channels.

In other words, I understand why marketers want these particular questions answered … but I hope they don’t wait for so-called social media gurus to provide the answers. They’ll be far better off putting in the time and effort to answer these questions for themselves.

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