I’ve been having a blast exploring Marketing Profs‘ State of Social Media Marketing report for 2010.
Marketing Profs is a go-to web resource for business leaders and marketing professionals. I’ve found it an incredibly deep reservoir of hands-on help, from case studies and seminars to online project management tools. They’re doing their darndest to idiot-proof the profession.
The State of Social Media Marketing report is put out annually, and SOSMM 2010 is hot off the virtual presses (downloadable HERE.) Marketing Profs used a random sample of slightly over 5,000 of their members to survey for the study.
Some highlights from the research:
- For purposes of the study, the definition of social media was: “Media designed to encourage dialogue between consumers and marketers, or those otherwise speaking on behalf of a corporation.”
- 75% of survey respondents were CEOs, Marketing VPs, or Managers, 25% specialists, administrative staff and entry level professionals. 85% worked directly in marketing.
- And look at this nugget, quoted directly from the source: “Most efforts at quantifying social media usage dealt with marketing budgets, not the time spent by paid individuals. We feel this is a very inaccurate metric for measuring the true cost of social media. As it turns out, the majority of marketers using social media on behalf of their companies are not paid specifically to do so. Many social media marketers are spending a large amount of time blogging, tweeting or otherwise using social media, and these individuals have a surprisingly high average salary—about $100,000 per year. In other words, the true cost of social media is mostly going unaccounted for and is high.”
- “Social media may just become “media” as all media allows people to take their networked identity with them.”
I asked Tim McAtee, Director of Research at Marketing Profs, about surprises in the data they collected. One of the big surprises was tactical. Regarding corporate culture. McAtee says: “I went in with the hypothesis that uptight, overly-litigious companies would find failure [in using social media tools] and the more open, honest, tech-forward companies would be seeing success. What we found is that both kinds of companies are seeing success, but with different tactics. Yes, all these different kinds of companies should, for instance, be using Twitter to engage with customers, but how they should do so is largely a function of culture and the type of target they seek to engage.” So companies that value secrecy did better with tactics like PR and managed communities. Those for whom secrecy was less an issue found success with tactics like unmonitored blogging.
One of the big topics of conversation this past year around social media was ROI. I asked McAtee about findings in the study. He responded “ROI is a function of spend. Social media is so cheap (though not free) that ROI isn’t really much of an issue for most practitioners.” This response, coupled with the finding that employee’s time spent in social media on the job was not measured, leaves a lot for next year’s report to clear up!
McAtee did offer some helpful clues around measurement: “If you want to [use Twitter] as a measurable broadcast medium, all you have to do is invest in really great analytics using a combination of measurement tactics such as Google Analytics, Omniture, Radian6, bit.ly click tracking, etc. and run control-exposed effectiveness studies, effectively creating an entire environment of measurement just like you would with a major TV or print campaign.” That’s solid advice for the big brands with dollars to plow in to analytics. Perhaps the coming year will see an increase in the common knowledge of and access to analytics tools specifically geared toward smaller businesses.
Some predictions about how social media will change in the coming year made by experts invited to prognosticate:
- “Facebook is gunning for Twitter. Facebook is going to grow in importance, Twitter will wane. Video will continue to flourish. Many more presence-based social applications will take root as more GPS-enabled phones are purchased.” – Jason Baer, President, Convince and Convert
- “It will grow. However, as more big orgs get on board, I sense conflict between the engagement aspects and the high-profile acquisition aspects. Challenge will be to preserve authenticity and transparency.” Christine B. Whittemore, Chief Simplifier, Simple Marketing Now
- “More people will continue to find it easier to express needs/issues about a company using social media vs. calling them/writing an email/visiting them. Competitors who embrace this form of communication will have the opportunity to capture market share from those who don’t.” David Alston, Vice President of Marketing & Community, Radian6
There is lots more to unpack in this 242 page pdf. Suffice it to say that social media marketing continues to play an increasingly game-changing role in the marketing mix. This year, there will be less need for convincing that these tools are valuable. Your boss knows you’re on to something!