Commentary

The Power of Social Marketing Grabbing Marketers

According to the 2011 Chief Marketer Social Marketing Survey, 73% of respondents say they now incorporate social messaging into their campaigns, up from 64% who said the same thing last year. A further 15% say they expect to launch social initiatives in the coming year, leaving only 10% who say they will not be social 12 months from now, or who are not sure.

78% of respondents representing B-to-C companies say they now use social to reach their audiences, and another 13% say they plan to incorporate social in the next year.

68% of B-to-B respondents also say they now use social media in their marketing, with 15% planning to do so soon. Those levels are still higher than the overall figures, B-to-B and B-to-C, recorded last year.

Current Social Marketing

 

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% of Respondents

Social Marketing

2011

2010

Currently integrate into campaigns

73%

64

Plan to integrate in coming year

15

22

No plans for next year

8

10

Don’t know

2

2

Source: Chief Marketer, October 2011

The ability to reach customers at multiple touchpoints rather than simply through one channel remains the most often cited benefit of social marketing, according to 85% of this year's respondents (81% in 2010). 60% of those polled say they're involved in marketing through social media because their target customers are spending increasing amounts of time in those channels, compared to 59% who said the same last year.

The viral effect of social media as one of its key benefits is important; 59% named it as one of the three key assets of social marketing.

Other reasons for including social in the marketing mix include a transition to one-to-one messaging, customer expectations, cost efficiencies and the chance to reach previously untapped audiences.

Reason for Social Campaigns

Reason

% of Respondents

Reach customers at multiple points

85%

Customer on social networks more

60

Take message viral

59

Conversational marketing

47

Customers expect presence

46

Cheaper/cost effective

46

Reach new demographic

45

Segment customers

19

Corporate leadership expectation

15

Source: Chief Marketer, October 2011

Facebook is the most common channel for social marketing among the total response group; 91% of those who say they do social marketing run campaigns there, either on their brand pages or via apps or ads.

In 2010, only half of total respondents said they were currently using Twitter as a marketing channel to reach their audience, with another 15% planning to incorporate it in the next year. This year's survey found 77% of marketers claiming to tweet for marketing purposes.

After LinkedIn and YouTube, channels turn niche, with only 15% of those polled using location-based or geo-social services such as Foursquare and Gowalla, and 13% using social bookmarking platforms such as Digg. MySpace captures 4% of the social marketing usage.

Among B-to-B marketers polled, LinkedIn edges out Facebook (86% vs. 85% of respondents in the category). Twitter use is more widespread than the overall average (81%), while YouTube is slightly less important to B-to-B marketers than to the response total (59%).

Social Channels Used

Channel

% of Respondents

Facebook

91%

Twitter

77

LinkedIn

68

YouTube

61

Source: Chief Marketer, October 2011

The most often cited strategic aim for social marketing is simply to drive traffic to a brand website or other microsite. Two-thirds of respondents named that among their top-three goals for social marketing in 2011, compared to 56% in 2010. On average, respondents to this year's survey get 15% of their web traffic from social media, compared to only 7% a year ago.

Interestingly, a larger proportion of those polled cite “generate leads or sales” as a strategic goal compared to last year. At the same time, amassing total followers fell off as a stated aim, from 34% in the 2010 survey to only 26% this year, behind driving opt-ins and monitoring brand reputation. Fan counts is giving way to more hard-edged indicators of social marketing success, especially those that drive to the bottom line, says the report.

Social Marketing Goals

Objective

% of Respondents

Drive traffic to website

66%

Generate leads/sales

48

Address brand fans

47

More targeted messaging

29

Monitor brand reputation

27

Amass total followers

26

Source: Chief Marketer, October 2011

60% of those polled in the 2011 survey say the number of fans, followers, friends and likers they can get to sign on still counts as their top metric, virtually the same proportion that cited head counts as the primary measurement tool last year. “Even in social media, you need an audience before you can start marketing at scale,” one of the respondents noted.

39% of respondents say they gauge success by keeping watch over the rate at which their social content gets shared or retweeted, followed by qualified leads coming from social channels, user engagement, and incremental sales attributable to social.

While 42% of respondents cited brand awareness/favorability in 2010 as a way to evaluate their social efforts, this year it was named by only 18% of those polled.

Social Marketing Measurement of Success

Measurement

% of Respondents

Numbers linking

60%

Sharing, forwarding, retweeting, posting

39

Qualified leads

35

Visits with branded content

30

Incremental sales

25

Brand awareness/favorability

18

Source: Chief Marketer, October 2011

Marketers are aware that their efforts to measure the impact of social marketing fall short of their aims. About 13% say they (or their agencies) are “very effective” at measuring social success; just less than half say they are “somewhat effective,” but 40% admit that they are either “not very” or “not at all” effective when it comes to figuring out how well their social marketing is delivering results.

Measurement Effectiveness

Effectiveness

% of Respondents

Very

13%

Somewhat

47

Not very

28

Not at all

12

Source: Chief Marketer, October 2011

Problems of measurement figure prominently in the list of top social marketing pain points, says the report. Respondents cite the difficulty of calculating an accurate return on investment (ROI) as their main problem, with the inability to track sales or attribute other conversions to any engagements customers might have had with their brands' social content.

Social Marketing Pain Points

Difficulty

% of Respondents

Accurate ROI hard to calculate

52%

Tracking/attributing results

42

Too much staff time

38

Inadequate content

28

Inadequate followers

20

Unsure of what content to create

18

Source: Chief Marketer, October 2011

Complaints aside, spending on social marketing is on the increase for a plurality of marketers, though those increases come on fairly small numbers. The average respondent to the 2011 survey reportedly will spend about $166,000 on social marketing this year. Almost half say they expect their outlay for the year to be under $5,000; those low levels are offset, however, by the 11% who say they will spend more than $100,000 in the channel this year.

Social Marketing Budget Change in 2011

Budget vs. 2010

% of Respondents

Increased

45%

Same

36

Decreased

1

Don’t know/NA

18

Source: Chief Marketer, October 2011

For additional information about the report from Chief Marketer, and access to the PDF file with charts, please visit here.

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