Social Media Grows Up [Research]

5 Factors Reveal Social Media Maturity

As social media grows up, business use matures. Early business pioneers on social media continue to hone their strategic approach to these venues based on their hard-earned experience.

It’s no surprise that the social media big three, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn continue to be the top social media platforms used by organizations in 2012 based on Awareness research. Further, usage of these sites remained flat since last year’s survey.  

YouTube, which gained five percentage points to 71%, and blogs, which gained seven percentage points to 64%, had the biggest increases. These two content options are key to an effective social media strategy. As an easy-to-share, search-friendly publishing platforms, blogs should be at the heart of your content marketing strategy. Even though quality video is expensive to create relative to other content formats, YouTube is the second biggest social media entity after Facebook and the second biggest search engine after Google. Further, blogs and YouTube support the sales process.

Interestingly, Google+ was noticeably absent from Awareness’ research. This reveals an under appreciation for Google+’s potential power. While Google+ appeared like a meteor last year and seemed to fizzle out, roughly 60% of the Interbrand 100 have created a Google+ page, roughly 40% post at least three times per week, and over 20% have circle counts of over 100,000. (Here’s more data and actionable marketing tips on Google+.)

Mature users of social media, while only a small percentage of Awareness’ respondents, leveraged content-based social media formats in greater numbers. Specifically, their YouTube usage was 83%, twelve percentage points higher, blogs usage was 76%, twelve percentage points higher, and Pinterest usage was eleven percentage points higher. This finding makes sense since these social media platforms require require a continual stream of fresh content; not just commenting and curation. This affects budget and resource allocation.  Awareness 2012 research

Further, as firms become more adept at using social media, they target their audiences and their related engagement resulting in more accounts per firm per social media platform. 

Here are five elements businesses need as their social media usage matures. Don’t forget that like the rest of your marketing, your social media requires goals.

  1. Monitor the social media landscape. With 24/7 social media engagement and media entities, it’s critical to know when there’s an issue brewing for you or a competitor. Further, you must be able to understand how current events are evolving so that you can respond appropriately. (Of course, it helps to have a PR Crisis plan ready!)
  2. Engage on social media platforms in real time. This means having dedicated staff who know your company, product offering and brand.  Further your representatives must be trained and capable of communicating in text format (versus phone or in-person). It’s not enough to have a college student who has a Facebook account. You need social media managers and customer service staff.
  3. Create content marketing to fuel social media. Social media needs a continual stream of fresh content. To develop strong engaging content requires resources to create a variety of content formats, especially text for blog posts, images for Facebook and Pinterest, and videos for YouTube. (Here is an infographic explaining how to choose the right content for your social media efforts.)
  4. Measure social media efforts. Once your social media plans get beyond the testing phase, you have to track results to make a case for increasing your budget for staff and related marketing. Even if your early attempts use crude, easy-to-measure metrics, they provide a base from which you can improve. A contextually relevant call-to-action and a tracking code are critical.
  5. Integrate social media into your overall marketing and business. Incorporating your social media into your marketing plans enables you to promote your efforts via your owned media such as your blog, website, emailings and other offline campaigns.

As social media continues to mature, your business must adapt its marketing approach to improve its effectiveness to achieve your business goals.

Where is your business on the social media adoption curve?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://www.etsy.com/listing/97513363/social-media-addict-decorated-cookies

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