Archive for the ‘Marketing strategy’ Category

The state of social media 2011

April 8, 2011

This week I took part in a webinar hosted by Hubspot and presented by Michael Steizner from Social Media Examiner that revealed and explored some of the key findings from a new report: the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report was compiled following a survey of 3,300 social media marketers who were all asked what question about social media marketing they wanted answered. 2,200 people provided responses, all of which were qualitatively analysed and grouped into the top 10 questions.

The report also looks at the time invested in social media marketing, how social media marketing is being used by different types of companies and – crucially – the main benefits offered by social media marketing.

Although the report is very US-centric (only 6% of respondents were from the UK), I’ve always found that the Americans are often ahead of the game when it comes to digital marketing trends such as these. I therefore wanted to write this post to highlight some of the findings that really stood out for me and will hopefully provide you with an insight into what social media marketers are thinking and where their priorities lie in 2011.

Key findings

• 73% of businesses are planning to increase their use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging in 2011

• The top three questions social media marketers want answered:
#1 – How do I measure the effect of social media marketing on my business?
#2 – How do I integrate and manage all of my social media marketing activities?
#3 – What are the best ways to sell with social media?

Half of marketers have less than one year of social media marketing experience, with B2B companies using social media longer than their B2C counterparts

58% of marketers are using social media marketing more than six hours a week, whilst 34% for 11 hours or more. And the longer people have been using social media, the more time they are investing in it on a weekly basis

• The top three benefits of social media marketing:
#1 – Generate exposure for the business
#2 – Increase traffic/ subscribers
#3 – Improved search rankings

It takes time, patience and commitment to see the financial benefits of social media. Those who take the time to learn about social media and use it consistently will see the greatest benefits

Facebook (92%), Twitter (84%) and LinkedIn (71%) are the most used social media tools, with blogs fourth in the list with 68%

• The top areas of focus for 2011:
#1 – YouTube/ video
#2 – Facebook
#3 – Blogs

People want to learn about Facebook (70%), blogs (69%), social bookmarking (59%), Twitter (59%), LinkedIn (55%) and YouTube/ video (55%) the most in 2011

46% of people want to learn about geo-location marketing (FourSquare, Facebook Places etc), although the report found that geo-location is most likely to be used by larger companies (501-1,000 employees)

My thoughts

There wasn’t a great deal in the report that surprised me in terms of the findings. It’s clear that marketers want to begin seeing financial rewards and return-on-investment from their social media activities. The ‘buzz’ is beginning to die down and I’m sure financial directors and business owners are now demanding to see tangible results from their social media efforts.

Facebook is the tool most people want to learn more about and use in 2011 with Twitter not far off in second place. Although I was surprised to learn that blogs are only fourth in the list of the ‘most used’ social media tools, it’s nevertheless encouraging to see them the third top area of focus and the second most important priority marketers want to learn about in the year ahead.
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What did you think of the report? What stood out most for you? Is there anything else you’d have liked the report to have looked at?


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What’s behind the numbers?

March 26, 2011

Facebook's Domination by infographiclabs
Last week I spoke with the managing director and marketing director of an online publication company looking to use social media as part of a digital expansion programme. It was encouraging to speak with two senior managers who have clearly recognised the opportunities and benefits that social media can offer and are prepared to use new media channels as part of their company’s marketing mix.

However, one of the things that concerned me during our meeting was when they said one of their main social media objectives was to boost the number of ‘likes’ on their Facebook page from around 9,000 to 1 million within a four to six month period and that ‘scale’ was of particular importance to them.

Bigger is not always better

A large following, whether that be through ‘likes’ on Facebook or followers on Twitter, is a perfectly legitimate social media marketing metric. Amongst other things, a large following will give you a fantastic opportunity to market to your existing customer base and help you establish credible social capital. But when this is one of the only social media marketing metrics, one begins to worry. It may be a cliché , but quality really is more important than quantity when it comes to (effective) social media marketing. You may grow your following and boast over a million ‘likes’ on Facebook, but so what?

Social media is a paradigm shift from traditional marketing techniques and requires a different type of thinking. It involves bringing the audience into the marketing process by including them in conversations, engaging with them and starting a dialogue. Social media marketing will not be effective if you build up a following only to broadcast messages and advertisements to them in the traditional one-to-many fashion. You need to proactively target your key social media audiences and give them a compelling reason to connect with you.

It’s not just the size – it’s what you do with it that counts!

One million Facebook ‘likes’ would be great, but what if only 25% of the Facebook following really liked you and the majority were disengaged with the brand and unresponsive to the discourse you’re trying to generate? Surely it would be better to aim for 20,000 Facebook fans who are interested and enthusiastic about your product or service and form part of a community that regularly interacts with your content and spreads it organically across their social graphs. Only this way will you begin to see increased conversions, be it actionable clicks over page views, enquiries, leads or sales. These are the metrics that really matter the most.

What are your thoughts on social media marketing metrics? What do you use to measure success? What does good social media look like?

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Photo credit: Inforgraphic by Infographiclabs. To view the full picture click on the picture or alternatively click here.

All or nothing

March 21, 2011

All or nothing
All too often I speak to individuals or companies who are considering using social media as part of their marketing efforts and yet they haven’t got a clear idea as to how it will fit into an overall plan or strategy.

I truly believe that social media marketing can be a very valuable part of a company’s marketing tool kit. But as with any other tactic or communication channel, it needs to be integrated into the overall business or marketing strategy effectively, with clear goals, objectives and milestones in place. Creating a one-off Facebook page or Twitter steam without an endgame in mind is simply using social media as a marketing ‘add on’, separated from from the core values, personality and image the brand is aiming to portray. Consistency is key and social media plays a vital role in generating brand awareness across both the traditional and social web.

Unless you are prepared to commit to social media entirely and use it as a genuine part of your marketing plan then I would recommend that social media isn’t used at all. Many may say that this would be far too drastic and that not participating in any social media channels would be a backwards step. However, the consequences of poor social media implantation has the potential to be much more damaging, with the possibility of frustrating followers or even customers through inconsistent participation and tone of voice.

A social media strategy doesn’t have to be a weighty tome, but it does have to coherently map out why you want to use social media, how you are going to use it and with whom. If you’re not prepared to take the time to put a simple plan together, I doubt you’ll have the time to consistently engage with communities using social media. It’s better to focus on the channels you can use really well (whether they be online or offline) and add value, rather than spread yourself – and your brand – thin across a variety of social media sites where you rarely turn up and join in.