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7 insights from a social media marketing study

The Social Media Examiner is out today with its 4th annual survey of social media marketing; 3,800 marketers answered the survey.  Thanks to Adam Sherk for the tip.

Statistically valid?  Perhaps not, but it’s an impressive number of respondents and provides a solid indication of how things are shaping up.  To that end, some of the outcomes are equally impressive. Several things jumped out at me:

1. Social media remains important to business.  No surprise here that 83% of marketers agreed or strongly agreed that social media was important to business.  What was surprising is that 54% of solo business owners strongly agreed with this statement.  That is small shops, with limited time and resources, see the most opportunity in using social media tools.  Is that because they are low cost, or because they are valuable?

2. More experienced professionals spend more time on social media.  Just 38% of marketers spend 1 to 5 hours a week on social media; 26% spend 6 to 10 hours and as little as 15% spend 20 or more hours each week on social media.  That amazes me because it strikes me as too little time.  Maybe that’s because experienced professional have social media all figured out – everyone is an expert now – but I doubt it.  It takes both a lot of time, and a long time, to build engagement on social media.  Marketers and PR pros must be disciplined and committed to daily engagement, or you are wasting time.  This survey found that “by spending as little as 6 hours per week, 61% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media.”  If there’s a proof point for spending more time on social media – that’s it!

3. Despite the critics, Google+ has potential. 40% of respondents are using Google+ and another 70% said they wanted to learn more about the tool.  The Google+ naysayers are out in force, but with tight integration and sharing across Google’s web, it’s certainly an opportunity worth watching.

4. Email marketing still prevalent; opportunity for social integration.  87% of those surveyed are still using email and makes a good case for integrating social media with email marketing.  It also explains the rational for ExactTarget acquiring CoTweet, and why my employer, Vocus, recently acquired iContact.

5. B2B marketers have been using social media longer than B2C marketers.  It’s marginal number with great weight – 18% of B2B marketers versus 14% of B2C marketers saying they have used social media for three or more years.  This fascinated me given the plethora of blog posts and questions on networks like Quora that examine this issue begin with the premise that B2B marketers question the value of social media marketing. The fact remains that social media is social, which means it’s about people connecting, and even B2B companies are made up of people.

6. YouTube is the top area to increase investment.  76% of marketers said they’d increase their investment in YouTube marketing – the second year in a row that YouTube topped the charts.  Maybe it’s that “Charlie bit my finger” video made $500,000, or that if pictures are worth a thousand words, than video is worth a million.  Greg Jarboe is great person to follow for YouTube marketing tips; he literally wrote the book on how to spend an hour a day marketing on YouTube.

7. Creative marketing.  Aside from the numbers, a couple of creative marketing ideas I took from the report itself was the bold move of advertising the Social Media Examiner’s social media summit on page 9 – and the ease at which the document itself provides social sharing tools.  Nearly every page has working share buttons for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.  It’s a nice touch to facilitate content promotion for what is in essence a white paper.

You can read the full report here: 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

Photo:  screenshot of “commonly used social media tools” from page 21 of this report.

4/9/12 Note:  An earlier version of this post stated incorrectly that more experienced professionals spent “less” time on social media than those with less experience. I have corrected the post today, but my point remains:  it’s not enough time.

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