social media researchSocial media networks are fields of dreams for marketers.  With over 500 million active users on Facebook today, there’s no doubt that Facebook is a social media powerhouse.  And although Facebook is a social networking favorite, it’s not alone.

Marketers are taking note of many different social media opportunities and beginning to implement new social initiatives at a higher rate than ever before. Here are 3 new studies that show social media is still on the rise:

#1: Small Business Doubles Social Media Adoption

One positive result from the economic downturn is the rapid growth of social media marketing.

A recent study, “The State of Small Business Report,” sponsored by Network Solutions, LLC and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, points to economic struggles as the catalyst for social media’s rapid popularity.

The study results show that social media usage by small business owners increased from 12% to 24% in just the last year, and almost 1 out of 5 actively uses social media as part of his or her marketing strategy.

Here’s a breakdown of what the small businesses reported as the main uses of social media marketing:

  • 75% have a company page on a social networking site
  • 69% post status updates or articles of interest on social media sites
  • 57% build a network through a site such as LinkedIn
  • 54% monitor feedback about the business
  • 39% maintain a blog
  • 26% tweet about areas of expertise
  • 16% use Twitter as a service channel

According to the study, different industries are adopting social media marketing at different rates, and while many industries have started using social media marketing in their efforts to reach more customers, many still have not positioned it as their top priority.

According to the survey, “Professional services firms, real estate businesses and entertainment/food/lodging businesses rely more on email marketing than other types of small businesses.  Firms in the education/health/social services sector rely more on social media marketing and direct mail.  Not surprisingly, retailers depend more on print and broadcast advertising.”

The report also measured small businesses’ expectations of social media. While 58% feel that social media “met expectations,” 12% feel it has “exceeded expectations,” while 25% feel social media has “fallen short of expectations.”

Some of the reasons given for social media’s shortfalls were:

  • 50% feel it has used up more time than expected
  • 19% believe social media has lost them money
  • 17% feel social media has allowed people to criticize their business

Here’s a breakdown from eMarketer that shows the performance of social media tactics, according to U.S. small businesses:


Overall, social media use by small business is a major growth area.  The report says it best: “This dire environment has not stifled innovation.  The most successful small businesses are competing by offering superior service and creativity and small businesses are rapidly embracing social media as a way for keeping engaged with customers and tapping knowledge resources.”

#2: Nearly 20% of Marketing Dollars Will Go to Social Marketing in 5 Years

In just the last 6 months, marketers have shifted their attitudes toward social media marketing spending. This was recently affirmed in the new study, “The CMO Survey”, from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association.  A key finding: Social media marketing budgets continue to rise. According to the results, businesses currently allocate 6% of their marketing budgets to social media, an allotment they expect to increase to 10% during the next year and 18% over the next 5 years.

Back in August 2009, marketers had already planned on devoting more money to social media.  However, in February 2010, marketers reported that they plan to allocate one-fifth of their marketing budgets to social media marketing in the next 5 years.  This is a definite increase from the 2009 projections.  The study features the following comparison from August 2009 to February 2010:

Current marketing budget spending on social media:

August 2009: 3.5%

February 2010: 5.6%

Marketing budget spending on social media in the next 12 months:

August 2009: 6.1%

February 2010: 9.9%

Marketing budget spending on social media in the next 5 years:

August 2009: 13.7%

February 2010: 17.7%

As stated by the director of the survey, Fuqua professor Christine Moorman, “Even though many are still experimenting and learning how best to use social media tools, these results indicate that marketers think social media marketing is here to stay and will play an increasingly important role in their work in acquiring and retaining customers in the future.”

#3: Mastering Social Media: A Top Goal for Marketers


Anderson Analytics and Marketing Executives Networking Group recently released a report titled “Marketing Trends 2010” with some interesting insight into the minds of marketing executives.

When marketing executives were asked to choose the most important trends and buzzwords to pay attention to in 2010, marketing ROI (getting a good return on marketing efforts) was number one, with 58% saying it was the most important trend to keep an eye on.  But what’s even more interesting is that social media made the top 10 list, with 42% choosing it as one of the top trends to watch.  In addition, 72% said they work for companies that are planning social media initiatives in 2010.

The study also explored social media presence and reported some very interesting findings when comparing personal social media use among marketing executives and their company’s social media use. The table below, courtesy of Anderson Analytics, shows how personal and company presence are not very similar and highlights the key differences. Individual executives are most likely to use networking tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, while companies are more likely to keep a blog than individual executives.

anderson analytics

Equally interesting is the consensus on how to carry out the social media initiatives. Marketers turn to internal employees, social media consultants and interactive agencies for support and are less likely to use PR and ad agencies.

When selecting a vendor for social media initiatives, marketing executives focus on the influence over a target market and the extent of a consultant’s network as major deciding factors. The table below shows the total breakdown of the importance of specific criteria when choosing a social media consultant:

anderson analytics

These three surveys are great indicators that we will continue to see social media marketing rise and perhaps over time see less of the traditional marketing strategies.

We want to hear from you:  Have you seen a major shift to social marketing initiatives in your company? Is there still a hesitancy to make a substantial leap to this new way of marketing or has the shift been an easy transition?  Tell us about your experiences below.

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  • Its nice to have some stats to back up what we know in our gut 🙂

  • Thank you for the stats. I think the rise in smartphone sales will increase social media site users and frequency of use in coming months and years. It may also alter the way effective social media is applied. For one thing, smartphone screens are smaller. For another thing, smartphone users may want social fast-food rather than sit-down PC meals. The social media post that works may need to be shorter than a blog post. Or blog posts need to get shorter.

  • Overall very positive numbers. Taking a slightly contrarian viewpoint, the adoption rate among small businesses seems still very low at only 24%, although the growth rate is high. Future growth will depend on the performance of social media marketing efforts. Key here is to set realistic goals and objectives and make the commitment. Reading that 50% mention that it has used up more time than expected, tells me that was not the case. If anything, for social media marketing to succeed requires a constant effort and allocation of resources, both in time and money. It cannot be short term oriented with immediate result expectations.

  • Another reason we (small biz owners) should all spruce up our professional profiles on LinkedIn!
    Thanks, Amy for bringing these stats to our attention.

  • ElizL

    Great post! As a social media specialist for a small business it excites me to see other companies jumping on board!!

  • It is finally nice to see some numbers regarding the effectiveness of social media. Social media is a cost effective way for small businesses and nonprofits to grow their business and it should be a tactic in a solid marcomm plan.

  • My favorite aspect of this whole post is the statistic that social media marketing dollars are expected to triple over the course of the next 5 years! Personally, I have seen clients increase their marketing dollars in the social media realm of their businesses ten-fold already (and that’s just since October 2009)! The more you promote it, the more they will come – isn’t that the truth with social media too!?

  • Interesting about the 20% piece and how many businesses (most notably large corporations in particular) do not even invest fractions of a % towards it. I actually see more of my small business and solo practice (self employed, etc) already working on their social media presence. Wonder why?

    @ Dino Dugan: I’m right there with you in that.

  • This is really surprising studies about social media marketing growth.We can say that social media is very popular for small businesses also and there is a good effect for business.I really like that you have shared such valuable information to us.

  • lisapetrilli


    Thank you for referencing the MENG/Anderson Analytics study in your post!

    I too found it interesting that social media made the Top 10 List for the first time. I wasn’t surprised by it though, and I found it fascinating that mobile marketing debuted above it in the survey. I think that says a lot about the trend for 2010.

    I agree with you that we will continue to see social media rise, and expect that those who are most successful using it will be those who best integrate it with traditional media and across organizations. Beth Harte has a great post about this on her blog, The Harte of Marketing…

    Thank you again and please let us know how we can be of help to you at MENG.
    All the best,

    MENG Program Director

  • Dino: I agree! It’s hard to argue with good, solid stats!

  • Peter: You bring up such a great point. I agree that we may have to alter our content to optimize the benefits of smartphone exposure. Those that get ahead of the game and start moving in that direction now will be the leaders in this area for sure. Thanks for stopping by, Peter.

  • You just hit on something that I think is extremely important–commitment. Social media takes time–it is a lot of work and those that are really getting it right are showing up daily and doing the hard work. For some reason there is an odd perception that it is supposed to be easy. To me, anything worth getting is worth working toward. Thanks for your comments–great insight!

  • So true, Rachel! Thanks for stopping by…

  • Good point–it’s all about exposure and relationships. It is exciting to hear that more and more dollars are being allocated toward social media marketing. Social media is only in its infancy–the more resources and dollars being put into it will really take it to a new level. I feel fortunate to be a part of this exciting shift!

  • Hi, Lisa! The MENG study was outstanding! And thanks for the great blog post above–I love anything that Beth Harte puts out there–she has a great eye for looking at trends and new directions in the social media space. Thanks again!

  • randyjames

    Great stats Amy, thanks for sharing!

    It would be nice to see some of the stats of small businesses using mobiles for social media marketing purposes and how that could be increasing compared to the traditional way. I think the time businesses spent there is fundamental. It shouldn´t be too much and social media should exceed your expectations if you know what you are doing and why. I´d like to see a post about how a social media plan would look like. I have already joined some conversations about that here which is a pretty cool site, though!

  • It’s nice to have a solid confirmation that numbers don’t matter as much as people would have you believe. Big fat surprise, right?

  • Hello Amy,

    The overall growth of social media and digital/mobile marketing are great news – also for the tourism industry (kinda my focus). I can also see great potential and opportunities for digital marketing.

    BUT, there would be even more. 10 times more opportunities with a free wi-fi access for travelers OR a ‘pay-as-you-travel’ mobile phone plan from ROGERS, TELUS, etc. Thats more or less a plea for free wi-fi for travelers around the world.

    I wanna start the discussion with a powerful article on my blog:
    Why I LIKE NEW YORK is better than I LOVE NEW YORK.

    How do you think about this topic? I would love to hear from you.

    Marc-Oliver . Digital Brand Strategist

  • It’s crazy to see how rapidly social media is playing a part in marketing and brand awareness

  • These statistics further solidify what we’re finding first-hand. Over the past six months, the number of requests from both our existing and prospective clients for social media marketing programs has increased more than 400%. While we’re enthusiastically responding to requests, we’re also cautioning clients against unrealistic expectations. Social media, like any marketing initiative, requires research, proper planning and established performance metrics.

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