With social media marketing evolving at a rapid pace, it’s essential to stay current on the latest industry trends. Here are some interesting findings from recent social media studies:

#1: Social Media Engagement Big Challenge for Many Businesses (Deloitte)

Survey results from a recent Deloitte study (2009 Tribalization of Business Study), point to some key challenges that organizations are facing as they move toward integrating online communities into their social media strategy.

Here are the top three areas respondents identified as obstacles:

  • Keeping visitors engaged:  30%
  • Getting people to join:  24%
  • Encouraging return visits to the online community:  21%

In addition, the majority of respondents agreed that the following are key business outcomes for their online communities:

  • Increase word-of-mouth:  38%
  • Increase customer loyalty:  34%
  • Increase brand awareness:  30%

#2: Social Media Used as a Discovery Tool by 18% of Online Population (Nielson)

With the recent integration of Twitter and Facebook with Microsoft’s Bing, there is no doubt that social media has become a top player in the world of search.  A recent study by Nielson Company examined the relationship between social media and user search options.  The report compared social sites to search engines and portals like Yahoo! Of those surveyed, 18% reported social media sites as core to finding new information.

Jon Gibs, VP Media Analytics, reports, “While still a smaller percentage than those who use search engines or portals like Yahoo! or MSN, it is a significant figure. And as social media usage continues to increase I can only expect this figure to grow.”

It is speculated that the amount of information on the web, especially on social sites, contributes to the increase in content discovery on these sites.  The report goes into much more detail and is worth a read.

#3: Businesses Slow to Incorporate Social Media Into Practice

Although numerous recent reports show how businesses plan to incorporate social media into their 2010 marketing mix, a recent study by BIA/Kelsey reports that many small- to medium-sized businesses are slow to incorporate the strategies into their plans today.

When asked about their current social media experiences, results showed many businesses are slow to adopt social media:

  • Have used Twitter to market in the last 12 months:  9%
  • Have used social sites in the past 12 months:  23%
  • Have incorporated video into their website: 16%

In addition, according to the survey results, adoption of social media by small- and medium-sized business is more prevalent among younger businesses:

  • Businesses 3 years or younger: 16% report using Twitter
  • Businesses 11+ years:  2% report using Twitter

What are your thoughts? What effect, if any, do the constant changes and shifts in social media have on your overall marketing strategy?

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  • Thanks for the update, Amy! I am starting to hear people say that the feel behind on social media, but this shows that there is still an astounding opportunity for businesses to get involved and develop their niche. Furthermore, content and consistency continue to be crucial components. I advise people that it is not enough to simply have a profile; they must actively engage readers on a regular basis. In other words, put yourself in your reader’s shoes and be creative. It’s definitely an exciting time! Thanks again!

  • Hey Misty – For sure there is plenty of time to get in early on the social media marketing game. Thanks for your comment! – Mike

  • Most biz owners I talk with “get” that social tools are a big deal but they want to know how to use them to see results without watching the hours of their day slip into a social media black hole.

    These stats confirm that there’s a lot of room for teaching strategies that get results – something I just happen to love doing 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • David Shirey

    I really feel that this is an emotional issue for many business owners. It’s not just a question of teaching business leaders about how to use Social Media, they must be made to feel comfortable that by having employees involved in this that they won’t spend half their day on Twitter or Facebook. The focus in many businesses today is having everyone focused on their job and nothing else. That’s not possible, of course, but there are a lot of business owners who are not going to be excited by something that takes people’s focus off their jobs (and as Misty notes above, it’s something you have to put some work into, you can’t just have a profile). Nor am I sure that many businesses will opt to create a staff position for someone who just does social media for the company. For many, many companies there’s just not that much payback.

  • The use of Social Media in business is whatever you choose to make of it I believe.
    Businesses that embrace it and truly engage with others correctly, will benefit from opportunities to reach audiences they would never have otherwise reached and benefit from solutions to problems they didn’t even know existed.
    Those who resist it will always view it with doubt and miss those opportunities and solutions.
    As with anything in life really.
    As to the last part of your comment David, don’t be so sure! It’s the new PR and marketing… payback is hard to quantify but it definitely has had much payback for my new company already.

    It’s not necessarily about tking people’s foxus off their jobs

  • David Shirey

    I certainly agree that social media is ‘whatever you choose it to be’, but it is also ‘whatever it can be’. If I am running a specialty foods store of some sort, there is no doubt that effective social media, especially with the food bloggers, is going to help me. But if I am making fuel tanks for GM, Toyota, and Honda, then there is just no point. My future business with them is solely dependent on whether I can get them the tanks they want today first thing in the morning and meet their quality standards. If I do I can get away with having no web site and dial telephones and they won’t care a bit. And who else am I going to sell fuel tanks to? Now if I expand my business and start making Scuba air tanks, then I have a different situation.

    Social media is like any other tool. It will be helpful to some companies and not to others. And each has to decide if it makes sense for them.

    And I especially agree with what you say about doing it well. There’s nothing like doing something poorly to choke off sales.

  • Hey Dave, I would advise you not to underestimate the importance of
    social medi for business-to-business applications. In your example,
    the tank company could use social media to build a relationship with
    key decisionmakers. That could be the tiling point for two similar

  • Dave Shirey

    It could, but in most cases like that the decision to make you a supplier is not up to an individual, it’s based on the quantitative score you have in terms of quality and delivery. No one is going to go out on a limb just because they’re your buddy. Especially since there is a tremendous cost in switching from one supplier to another, or even adding a new supplier. It’s not as simple as just saying, OK send us stuff.

    All I’m saying is that for some businesses social media is going to be an asset, but there are many others where there is not enough of a chance of it making the difference that most executives, who are already suspicious that their employees are goofing off with their computers, are going to feel comfortable with it and support it.

  • Anonymous

    The ‘social media’ (is there any other kind?) is a new field and changing rapidly with the expectations and conventions still being established. And so it (at the very least) very difficult to incorporate into a strategy.

  • Great discussion, and these statistics are fascinating. I live in a rural area where very few small businesses are using social media, though when I ask them about it, they feel vaguely guilty that they might be missing something, but mostly it seems to them like too much trouble and too time-consuming. It’s incumbent on those of us who have grasped the power, potential, and absolute coolness (okay, that’s not a very professional way to put it, but that’s how I feel) of using social media to keep educating. That’s why the Social Media Examiner’s mission is so important!

  • David, you make some good points. For most businesses I think this is the biggest step to take. I wonder how things will evolve as more professionals use social media for their own personal branding. It’s easier for businesses to trust employees who know how to use social media.

  • Rowdyboy

    My own viewpoint is pretty close to David’s, but my experience also reinforces what Riverwood wrote – firms that don’t use SM as a marketing tool feel they probably should. I have found that fluency with SM is rapidly becoming a job requirement for marketing professionals. My situation is a case in point. After being out of work for 7 months following a recession-caused layoff, I got hired in Oct by a 40+ year old small manufacturer. The fact that I had SM marketing experience was a huge plus for me. They were looking for that experience because they want to use SM for marketing but don’ have a clue how.

    Now I don’t believe for moment that SM will ever be more than a relatively small percentage of the company’s marketing mix. But management’s perception that “we need to be doing this (SM marketing) now” is, to some extent, driving strategy, and thankfully providing me a livlihood.

  • Blogidy

    I am currently making a case study on how well twitter can perform in driving trafic to ones blog. Hope it peeks someones interst:

  • @Amy great article! Was there any research done about the size of companies that used social media? My guess would be the smaller companies social media more than large ones. Any thoughts Amy or Michael?

    @David yes I agree that many companies are hesitant to mix ‘business and personal’ on social media.
    Is there any good way to monitor this?

  • David Shirey

    Jessica – I honestly don’t know if you can monitor for Twitter use or not. Certainly you can block access to the Twitter site but if you are using an other Twitter client I don’t know if that works around it or not.

  • Great info Amy, especially all the stats!

    I met with a business owner today and discussed why she would want to engage in Social Media. She has lots of business, is a regular go to person but had not considered how her absence on the big three Social Media sites might affecting potential new clients impressions when someone refers them her way.

    If you are not present are you considered not relevant?

  • Lisa,

    You make such a great point here. I believe that having a presence on social media sites is great social proof that you are relevant and also flexible to changes in the the market. The business owner you met with might also consider how her competitors are using social media. If they have a solid presence, not only could they be attracting all of her potential customers, but also luring in her existing ones with new ways of building connections and showcasing their abilities. I hope she reconsiders and tests out the social media waters.

    Thanks for sharing, Lisa.

  • I love your term “absolute coolness” to illustrate your view of social media. Perfect 🙂 I could not have said it better myself!

    The people I come across who see social media as too time consuming and too much trouble are also those that tend to want to outsource the majority of it. Too much outsourcing and your message can get lost in translation. I hope we can get to a point where social media tools are even more streamlined to save us time and resources and therefore companies outsource their social media communications less. I am curious to see what the coming year will bring!

  • Misty,
    It is an exciting time for sure! I like what you said about engaging readers on a daily basis. That is something that many find difficult because it is time consuming. I have noticed that when I make my social media activities a habit, something I partake in daily, I get momentum and I am much more consistent. Thanks for the reminder of the importance of showing up.

  • Rowdyboy makes a great point, and as someone who writes resumes, I have already started encouraging my job-hunting customers to get a few of these skills under their belt. My father always preached that someone’s Perception becomes their reality, whether or not it’s correct, and right now many small business owners perceive that they need to jump on the SM bandwagon. This is a great opportunity for those who jumped in earlier.

  • Amy,

    Thanks for the reply! I look forward to reading more articles by you.


  • Thanks for the great post. To me social media marketing is so dependent on the policy changes i.e. the recent change of Facebook Promotion terms. However, the power of it is undoubted and it will only grow more phenomenal.

    For Malaysia, my observation tells that many are still wearing the hat of old marketing while adopting social media marketing in their marketing mix, so it is interesting to watch the changes.

  • @amy Super post. I think businesses should embrace social media, but with a grain of salt. Right now it’s integral to adopt this level-playingfield communication but nobody can be sure what’s to come in the future.

  • Jim

    Fantastic lots of good ideas here.


    Very insightful entry you got there. I agree that the internet allows a lot of people to become detectives and investigators on their own and use the anonymity in stalking and searching people.