Regardless of how long you’ve been involved in social media, chances are you have some questions that you’d like answered.
Questions such as, “What are the best social management tools?” or “What are the best ways to engage my audience with social media?”
These and many more questions were answered in the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, which surveyed over 3000 marketers with the goal of understanding how they use social media to grow and promote their businesses.
Here are some interesting findings from the survey:
#1: Marketers Want Most to Learn About Blogging
When asked what social media platform they wanted most to master, 62% of marketers said blogging, putting it in first place slightly ahead of Google+. This answer is consistent with other studies, which show that the appetite for blogging education is growing.
An important trend to consider is that 28% of marketers now have mobile-optimized blogs. This is highly significant when you consider that the number of smartphone subscribers in the world has broken the 1 billion mark.
The power of blogging to reach huge audiences and prospective customers cannot be underestimated. If you want your voice to be heard on the social web, you need to have a blog.
If you’ve just started blogging for business, focus on consistently giving your audience helpful advice that solves their problems. If you’re not 100% sure what kind of content to offer, survey your customers and ask them to tell you. Asking your customers not only gives you valuable insights about what they find useful, but can help to promote your blog as well.
Here are more tips about blogging for business.
#2: Blogging Highly Valued by the Pros
Most marketers (49%) selected Facebook as the single most important social platform for their business, followed by LinkedIn (16%), blogging (14%) and then Twitter (12%). But for the Pros (marketers with three or more years of social media experience), blogging jumped to second place!
Similarly, a recent Technorati report on Digital Influence also indicated that 86% of influential marketers blog consistently, and a majority of them do not produce much content outside of their blogs.
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Consumers are looking for “trusted digital friends” to give them advice on what to buy and where to go. Experienced marketers know that offering valuable advice on their blogs generates trust and influences consumers’ buying decisions. If you produce compelling articles and useful advice on your blog, you’ll become a trusted source of information, and people will start to spend more time there, eventually becoming your customers.
#3: Podcasting Finally Growing Up
Marketers were asked to indicate how they plan to change their social media use in the near future. While only 5% are currently using podcasting, a significant 24% plan on getting involved this year. That’s a nearly five-fold increase!
The report shares three reasons why interest in podcasting is growing: Apple’s introduction of a dedicated podcasting mobile app, smartphone subscriptions topping the 1 billion mark, and major car manufacturers such as BMW and Ford starting to integrate podcasting technology into new cars.
Marketing expert Seth Godin says it’s not a good idea to try to sell anything to a stranger. It’s true. But when the right people connect with your voice through podcasting, they gradually become engaged and start to pay attention.
Pat Flynn often says that other than meeting face-to-face, podcasting is probably the best way to interact with your prospects. So if you’ve been thinking about breaking into podcasting, here are the technicalities of setting up, as well as some tips for building a successful podcast with a loyal audience.
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#4: Only 1 in 4 Marketers Able to Measure Social Media ROI
When asked to rate their agreement with the following statement, “I am able to measure the return on investment for my social media activities,” only 26% of marketers agreed! What’s interesting about this survey is that social media is clearly a core strategy for businesses, yet measuring it remains a mystery.
Research shows that for many businesses, measuring social media ROI is still too basic—focusing on likes, followers and mentions.
During Social Media Marketing World 2013, Nicole Kelly, author of How to Measure Social Media, said business executives and funders of social media campaigns are looking for real business metrics such as sales, revenue and costs. The challenge for marketers is to learn to speak their language by showing how social media fits into the sales funnel and how it impacts the bottom line. Here’s a great piece from Nicole that explains how to measure social media.
#5: Two-Thirds of Marketers Uncertain About Facebook Marketing Effectiveness
Perhaps the most surprising finding in this study was that most marketers don’t really believe in Facebook! Sure they use it, but they don’t really think it is effective. Only 37% agreed with the statement “My Facebook marketing is effective.” Specifically, 44% of B2C marketers agreed with this statement, while only 29% of B2B marketers concurred.
Make no mistake, Facebook IS an effective marketing platform and there are numerous case studies to prove this. It’s possible that some marketers who participated in this survey hadn’t actually tracked their Facebook marketing campaigns and were uncertain about their own efforts.
However, research also indicates that Facebook seems to work better for B2C than B2B. If you have a B2B brand, don’t be discouraged. Here’s some advice from Marketo, a B2B company that has been very successful on Facebook.
Other Significant Findings
Tactics and engagement are top challenges for marketers.
When asked what top social media challenges they are facing today, marketers said that tactics and engagement strategies were at the top of the list. No matter what kind of company you have or what products you sell, you can improve engagement with your audience on any platform including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Here are some great tips to improve engagement.
Increased exposure and traffic top benefits of social media marketing.
A significant majority (89%) of marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses, while 75% said that increased website traffic was the second major benefit. Social media is essentially a word-of-mouth tool. It’s where friends discover and share interesting ideas, including the ones on your site! Here are some tips to drive traffic to your site using social media.
More time spent on social media equals greater benefits.
If you’ve ever wondered whether more time invested in social media produces better results, the answer is “yes.” According to the survey, with as little as six hours per week, 92% of marketers indicated their social media efforts increased exposure for their businesses. More than half of marketers who spent 11 hours or more per week saw improved sales. Do you think you could put a little more time into social media marketing every week?
Fascinating differences between B2B and B2C.
As expected, Facebook dominated among B2C brands, though it was interesting to see LinkedIn and Facebook tie for first place among B2B brands. Only 5% of B2C marketers said LinkedIn played an important role for them. Twitter and blogging are also valuable platforms for B2B marketers. Another surprise was that B2B marketers showed zero interest in Pinterest.
What do you think? How does your own experience compare to these findings? Please share your comments in the box below.
Image from iStockPhoto.
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