Lessons gleaned from the state of social media

By Patti Rowlson
Contributing Writer

Only 37 percent of recently surveyed marketers felt their Facebook efforts were effective. Does that number surprise you?

Would you also be surprised to learn that 86 percent of those same marketers said that social media in general was important to their businesses (up from 83 percent in 2012), and 69 percent said they planned to increase their overall social media presence in the coming months?

The experts at Social Media Examiner released their fifth annual Social Media Marketing Study last month. The goal of the study was to better understand how marketers use social media to grow and promote their businesses.

The data compiled was the result of surveying more than 3,000 marketing professionals, more than half of which were self-employed or worked in a small business with 2 to 10 employees.

Challenge of gauging impact

While 97 percent of those surveyed use social media to market their business (up from 94 percent in 2012), only 26 percent felt they were able to actually measure their social activities.

So why do they continue pushing forward without being sure of the results?

It seems that small businesses may struggle with measuring social media success, but they keep pushing forward because they feel social media marketing does generate extra exposure. Of those surveyed, 89 percent reported increased exposure, so it seems they are willing to look past the value of measurability.

Interesting, right?

The marketing study was filled with many fascinating statistics. Here are some additional tidbits to take note of:

– The top five social media networks used by marketers are, in this order:  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging and YouTube.

– Sixty-two percent of businesses with 10 or fewer employees felt social media reduced their marketing expenses.

– Business-to-consumer companies were more likely to develop a loyal fan base (71 percent) than business-to-business companies (58 percent).

– Sixty-seven percent of business-to-consumer marketers select Facebook as their platform of choice, followed by blogging at 11 percent.

– Fifty-seven percent of business-to-consumer marketers plan to increase their use of Pinterest.

– Business-to-business marketers are split, with 29 percent choosing Facebook and 29 percent choosing LinkedIn as their platform of choice.

– Geo-location services such as Foursquare dipped in usage, from 17 percent  in 2011 to 14 percent in 2012 to 11 percent in 2013.

– Fifty-three percent of businesses plan to increase their use of Google+ (down from 67 percent in 2012).

– Eighty percent  have no plans to use daily deal sites like Groupon in the future.

Marketers push video, blogging

So, if people are pulling back marketing on sites like Foursquare, Google+ and Groupon, where are they going to focus their energies instead?

According to the study, many intend to ramp up their use of YouTube and blogging in the coming months.

Business-to-consumer marketers plan to spend more time on Facebook while business-to-business folks are going to ramp up efforts on LinkedIn.

Armed with this new information, you may want to reconsider jumping into daily deal marketing and instead look at beefing up your presence on Facebook and LinkedIn or integrating YouTube and blogging into your marketing toolbox.

What are your thoughts about using social media to market a local small business? Do you feel like your efforts increase visibility for your company? Is measurability important to you?

Feel free to leave any comments below—I’d love to hear from you.

Patti Rowlson of PR Consulting Services is a publicist and marketing consultant in Whatcom County. Connect with Rowlson on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for additional marketing tips, or visit her website at www.pattirowlson.com.

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