In the half-dozen or so years since Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other interactive platforms were introduced to the general population, several questions related to the efficacy of social media have consistently vexed the advertising community. These range fromóHow do I advertise in social media vehicles and how should I allocate an ad budget for that purpose? to What metrics spell success and how do they compare with those that I use for other media? Earlier this month the BtoB Intelligence Center released a comprehensive report entitled: Emerging Trends in B-to-B Social Media Marketing: Insights from the Field. The data outlined in the report are based on a representative sample of 577 business-to-business marketing professionals who were surveyed from mid-January through mid-February of this year. Respondents from companies of all sizes were interviewed. Following are some of the more pertinent highlights from the survey.
Approximately 46% of marketers in the b-to-b space today indicated that they were less than moderately involved with social media as an advertising or promotional tool. Conversely, 54% of the Social Media 577 are moderately or heavily involved with one or more of the social media platforms mentioned above. Seventy-two percent of business-to-business marketers cited that LinkedIn was the most important social site they have used to communicate on a b-to-b level. However, they also felt that Facebook (71%) and Twitter (67%), by virtue of their size, were highly important in getting corporate messages across. Other b-to-b social media methods mentioned include: YouTube (48%), blogging (44%), customer community (22%), Flickr (11%), Digg (8%), Stumbleupon (5%) and Tumblr (3%).
Those who have implemented social media campaigns have used one or more of the platforms mentioned above for approximately 20 months on average. Primary uses to-date include: product or event promotion, branding and/or generating website traffic. Marketers experimenting in this arena generally have not measured the success of social media campaigns relative to return-on-investment. Rather, performance has typically been gauged by using website traffic as the metric of choice.
When questioned regarding the obstacles to adoption of social channels, 70% of marketers cited lack of resources necessary to implement social media campaigns. Inadequately defined success metrics and KPIs were identified by 57% of those interviewed, while lack of knowledge about social media was mentioned by 44%. Other lesser obstacles include: management resistance, confidentiality, legal and regulatory issues and company policies prohibiting use of social media.
Social media marketing programs tend to mirror those in general media marketing in that they tend to be cross-platform. For example, a typical campaign may use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and selected blogs in a synergistic manner. LinkedIn might be used to generate leads and website traffic. Twitter may be used for short and concise marketing promotions, to generate social buzz or to identify who might be talking about you. Facebook might be used for branding and event promotions while selected blogs may be used for search engine optimization, business and/or ideology-related written content.
The state of social media marketing today is decidedly cross-channel. Marketing information and event promotions are generally distributed across multiple social media vehicles such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others. Nevertheless, marketers considering the use of social media for messaging purposes are highly advised to first develop a concise social media marketing strategy prior to taking the plunge and implementing a campaign.
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