The Inside Scoop On How Marketers Use Social Media [Research]

Marketers’ Views of 7 Social Media Platforms

What's the inside scoop on social media marketing? ResearchSocial media provides an array of marketing options to achieve your business goals. If you’re like other marketers, you’re curious as to what your peers are doing with social media, what works best for them, and how to get your organization to the next level cost effectively.

Social Media Examiner’s 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report provides insights worth studying. (Here’s another view of social media’s evolution.)

At a top level, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn continue to dominate marketers’ social media tools. This is no surprise since marketers have followed their customers to these sites based on size. (For additional analysis of the Social Media Examiner Research, here’s Social Media: Where are the business results?)Most Commonly Used Social MediaTools 2012 - Social Media Examiner

B2C companies tend to focus on Facebook while B2B companies tend to focus on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. This makes sense since people use Facebook primarily to connect with family and friends. By contrast, they use LinkedIn to connect with business colleagues and job contacts. Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2012 -Social Media Examiner - B2B vs B2C

Both B2C and B2B marketers looking for opportunities to break through should contemplate using blogs and videos, particularly YouTube, since these platforms enable marketers to present their products and services more fully. At a minimum, use video to give customers a 360-degree view of your product and to show them how it’s used in the proper context. Rejecting these content rich formats because they require more time than other types of social media is a short sighted approach. Well planned content creation could be classified as other forms of marketing to allow for a larger budget and headcount. Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2012 - Social Media Examiner

As you reassess your 2012 marketing plans, here’s how your fellow marketers anticipate modifying their social media usage. The top seven platforms marketers plan using based on the survey are:

  1. YouTube/Video. Video is top on marketers’ list for expansion. Consumers, both B2C and B2B, are accustomed to viewing video whether it’s at the movies, on television, on their computer or other device. YouTube is the number two social media platform in the U.S. after Facebook as well as the number two search engine after Google. Further, with good planning, marketers can incorporate video creation with other activities such as commercial creation, television and movie development or other live events such as conferences and meetings. What’s interesting is that it’s taken marketers so long to put it at the top of their list. This means that video has more room to grow as a marketing platform.
  2. Facebook. Since Facebook consumes roughly one out of every five minutes online, marketers feel pressure to have a Facebook presence. From a competitive perspective, Facebook may be viewed a necessity for many B2C businesses. The challenge for many marketers is the ability to translate Facebook likes into bottom line results, particularly when most consumers associate with businesses on Facebook to get discounts. B2B marketers need to assess whether their target audience is willing to engage in obviously business-related activities on Facebook. This requires talking to your audience to find out what they want.
  3. Twitter. Roughly seven out of ten marketers plan to expand their use of Twitter, particularly enterprise businesses and small businesses. This makes sense since Twitter is similar to a chat function and enables professionals to reach out to each other based on other engagement. Twitter can be useful for solopreneurs to build their position in their field by engaging with others and leading Twitter chats. It’s very useful for time sensitive information that reaches a smartphone savvy audience such as airport announcements.
  4. Blogs. The granddaddy of social media. 68% of marketers plan to increase blogging activity. Since blogging requires continued support and content creation, this result is probably overstated. This is an area that’s highly used by solopreneurs since it also supports search optimization and sales.
  5. Google+. Despite being the new kid on the block, Google+ is already used by 40% of marketers. They aren’t willing to wait on the sidelines while Google and their competitors figure out how to maximize the return. For those watching the marketing tea leaves, what are you doing on Google+ was the buzz at SES New York and it’s the subject of Guy Kawasaki’s latest book, What The Plus.
  6. LinkedIn. Often considered a job hunter’s ghetto, LinkedIn has continued to expand and enhance its services since its IPO last year. While it provides lots of entryways for content marketing, LinkedIn tends to be used by B2B more than B2C marketers. Regardless of the business you’re in, make sure you’re monitoring LinkedIn as it can give you insights into what’s happening within your company and business area.
  7. Photo Sharing Sites (Including Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram). Despite the fact that this survey was fielded before the big increase in attention to Pinterest, almost two out of every five marketers plan to use photo sharing in some way. This should be a no-brainer for marketers since every consumer has a camera (and often a video camera) in their mobile or smartphone, some of which, namely the iPhone 4S are very good cameras. Taking a photo is easy. Users don’t need to think about spelling or grammar. They just need to point and shoot. Why take notes when you can snap a photo.

As a marketer, while it’s useful to assess what your peers are doing in terms of social media marketing, understand that what works for them may not work within your organization or for your target audience. Further, it’s important not to tradeoff using popular options like Facebook without building your own internal media such as a blog.

Where do you plan to expand your social media usage and what’s your rationale for your initiatives?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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