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econsultancy-importance-of-social-media-strategy-sept-2012.png73% of companies with annual revenues of less than $150 million agree that social media is integral to their marketing mix, while two-thirds of companies with revenues of more than $150 million agree, according to [download page] an September 2012 report from Econsultancy, produced in partnership with Adobe. Social media’s importance extends beyond just marketing, though: three-quarter of company respondents from the smaller businesses agree that a social media strategy is integral to their business strategy, while 66% of larger businesses agree.

Just 11% of client-side respondents from businesses with annual revenues of more than $150 million disagree that social media is integral to their business strategy, although an additional 24% are neutral on the topic.

But those who do agree that social has value tend to agree strongly, found Forrester in a March 2012 survey commissioned by Facebook. 59% of senior marketers responding to that survey either agreed (39%) or strongly agreed (20%) that companies that do not fully embrace social media will not survive. 71% of senior marketers agreed that companies can gain competitive advantage by leveraging social media, and 60% agreed that social media enables businesses to be more successful.

Social Media Primarily a Branding Channel

Details from Econsultancy’s “Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: Managing and Measuring Social” indicate that social media is being primarily looked upon as a brand awareness channel. When asked to choose the top 2 roles for social media, client-side and agency respondents were in general agreement, with 64% of the former and 61% of the latter choosing social as as a brand/awareness channel. Among clients, social media as a marketing channel was second (44%), followed by social media as a content marketing strategy (37%). For agencies, social media’s role as a content marketing channel (38%) and as a marketing campaign channel (37%) were more on par. Agencies were more inclined to see an important role for social media as a customer service channel than clients (30% vs. 25%), while lead generation and sales were top-2 choices for fewer overall.

Comparing the responses by larger and smaller companies reveals a general agreement on these roles, save for 2. 74% of respondents from larger companies chose brand/awareness as one of their top-2 roles for social media, compared to 59% of smaller companies. By contrast, smaller companies are more likely to see an important role for social media in lead generation than larger companies (19% vs. 6%).

Half Believe Social Media Impacts Customer Service

Asked on which business areas or functions social media has an impact, 69% each of clients and agencies named web analytics, matched by the proportion pointing to PR and communications (69% of clients, 68% of agencies). 51% of clients and 48% of agencies view social media as having an impact on email marketing. Of note, despite just one-quarter of clients saying customer service is a top-2 role for social media, 49% of company respondents said that social media does have an impact on customer service (half of the agency respondents agreed).

A May 2012 study from American Express found social media to significantly heighten both customer service opportunities and risks.

About The Data: The 6th Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing is based on an online survey of more than 650 client-side and agency respondents, carried out in August 2012. Econsultancy and Adobe promoted the survey to their respective databases of marketers. 57% of respondents are based in the UK, 32% in the US or Canada, and the remainder in other regions.

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