Social media, initially a curiosity, is an increasingly important avenue for marketing interaction between marketers' brands and their customers and prospects, according to a new study from BtoB.
The study also contains a number of surprises about which platforms are favored by marketers and social's impact on legacy channels.“Social Media Marketing: A Surge in Adoption”
found that this year, 32% of marketers are “very” or “fully” engaged in marketing through social channels, compared with 21% surveyed by BtoB
in 2011. For 2013, the study projects that 53% will be intensely engaged in social media marketing, with 97% of all marketers involved with social media to some degree.
Marketers view LinkedIn (83%), Twitter (80%) and Facebook (79%) as their key channels, with YouTube (60%) and blogging (50%) trailing. However, blogging rose to the No. 2 spot behind LinkedIn when marketers cited their most important channels. That doesn't surprise Bryan Brown, director-product strategy at marketing automation company Silverpop.
“Marketers should build their company's brand page—create a strong overview of their offerings, highlight products and services, update their status and include recent blog posts—to generate the most interest and leads for their company,” he said. BtoB's
study also highlighted social media's impact on traditional channels. Almost three-quarters of marketers are moving as much as 10% of their budget allocations for traditional media to the social side.
For example, Christa Carone, CMO at Xerox Corp., decided to use social media alone
—no PR releases involved—to distribute information about a recent rebranding move.
“Today, every conversation in marketing takes place within the social element,” Carone said. “Of course, there are other tools in the PR toolkit, but social is the predominant one right now.”
Another channel taking a social-budget hit is paid search: 56% of marketers plan to reallocate marketing dollars from paid search to social.
“It's subtle, and it's coming from marcom groups where social is located,” said Erin Estep, service director-strategic community management at marketing consultancy SiriusDecisions.
But Estep said the move is indicative of continuing marketing refinement in coping with new channels.
“A lot of organizations are trying to figure out how to shift to a center of social media excellence,” she said. “Marketers are realizing it's not about just setting up a Twitter account; it's really beyond training, governance and enablement. This isn't just another thing; it's a better
A significant portion of marketers, however, remain wary of social media marketing: Last year, 46% of marketers surveyed considered the channel not worth pursuing; today, 35% still have little or no involvement.
“We've seen social marketing being a huge pain point, and it's linked inherently to content,” Estep said, citing the concern that many marketers have about feeding the social channel with compelling white papers, videos, product fact sheets and other compelling “lead bait.”
Nevertheless, marketers found the ability to network and collaborate an essential benefit of social media, cited by 30% of respondents to the BtoB
“People have been socially communicating for decades; it's called trade shows,” said John Mannion, exec VP-director, client relations at marketing agency Doremus, San Francisco. “What's different about social is, those conversations we used to have in the hallways are documented and searchable. Now, companies are publishers and wrestling with the obligations that come with it.” BtoB
's study, conducted online in March, garnered 622 respondents. Companies of various sizes were represented, with small businesses predominating—64% reported annual revenue of $25 million or less.
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